Study, panel addresses sex trafficking

Women's Fund of Omaha tries to raise awareness
Posted at 12:41 PM, Aug 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-16 13:51:06-04

At six years old, Rachel Pointer entered human trafficking.

“You don't walk out of something like that, especially something that framed really a good chunk of your childhood and suddenly you'll be like, 'Oh, I can really tackle this issue,’ says the 34-year-old.

But she is and has been for the last 18 years.

The healing process, she says, remains ongoing and speaking out helps.

“I don't have to be tied down to my victimhood anymore,” Pointer says. “That I can be a part of the solution instead of just a statistic.”

The outspoken crusader will speak at a panel discussion Wednesday, hosted by the Women’s Fund of Omaha and the Women's Leadership Council of the United Way of the Midlands.

The sold-out event also will feature former FBI Special Agent Anna Brewer; one of the authors of the study, Shireen Rajaram of UNMC College of Public Health; and project manager at The Salvation Army’s Fight to End Trafficking Program, Alicia Webber.

Women’s Fund recently commissioned a study to look into the problem in Nebraska from University of Nebraska – Lincoln and University of Nebraska Medicine Center.  Last month, researchers released the report.

Researchers spoke to 22 women who are survivors of human trafficking.

According to the authors, of those interviewed, 17 women live in the Omaha-Lincoln area and five live in rural Nebraska.

 “The report painted a complex interplay of drugs, sex and money in the hidden nature that really fuels it,” sasy Meghan Malik, trafficking response coordinator with Women’s Fund.

Malik will moderate the discussion which features,

The women say awareness has gotten somewhat better, shifting away from the idea that trafficking only happens overseas.

But awareness isn't enough, Pointer says.

There is realizing what is in front of you and recognizing the signs, according to the women.

“And the third thing is response, says Malik. “So we say realize, recognize and response. So what do I do if I see this happening.”

To read the report, click here.