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Published on 24 November, 2008

Christian group reaches out to victims of the U.S. sex trade

USA (MNN) — According to the United States Immigration officials, 600,000 people are sold into human trafficking around the world. Many of them are under-aged girls, who are sold into sex slavery. It's happening in major cities all over the world, including the United States.

Food for the Hungry (FH) is getting involved, says the senior city initiatives director with FH, Pat McCalla. McCalla says their involvement in this came after he met with Phoenix city officials to find out some of the pressing needs in their own city. "I was actually horrified to learn that one of the issues was child prostitution, or what I call rape for profit — the sexual exploitation of under-aged victims. And I found out that the average age of a child prostitute in our city was 13 years old."

That's when leaders from all over the community met together to begin planning to eradicate this heinous crime. Part of that was creating a documentary called, Branded. "The purpose is to educate, motivate people to begin to speak out about this heinous crime and then hopefully advocate to change legislation. The end goal is to build a safe house that can work with these girls to restore them."

McCalla describes the problem in Phoenix. "Four to five years ago, when they would arrest a pimp, most of those girls were over 18. Today, when they arrest a pimp, generally most of those girls are under age."

He says the girls involved don't fit any one specific demographic. He says they range from lower class to upper class and many nationalities in Phoenix. Most of the girls live in the U.S. "A lot of times, they cross state lines. We find a lot of girls from California, Nevada and Texas."

McCalla says the safe house they're proposing will be faith-based. "What we mean by that is 'Christ centered,' that any girl that comes into this program would come in and hear the name Jesus throughout the day, and they would hear talk about that. So we've made it clear, even with government official, that it will be a Christ-centered home."

FH hopes that through this program, these girls will come to know Christ in a personal way.

The local church is the head of the spear on the project, and it's not going to be cheap. "The building of the safe home is probably going to be around 10-million dollars and then nearly a two-million dollar budget a year to run it. We're actually looking at a thre- tear attack. It's like a three-legged stool. If you take one leg out, it would fall over. And we're saying advocacy, prevention and rehabilitation."

McCalla hopes to begin breaking ground on the group home in 18 months.

While Food for the Hungry wants to see the safe home built in Phoenix, McCalla says other communities are already interested in starting a program.

While funding is needed for the project, McCalla is asking people to pray. "Tonight, in most of our major cities, there will be 12-, 13- or 14-year-old girls that will be raped repeatedly, and it will happen to them night after night after night. So we need to pray that churches will fight against this injustice."

If you'd like to get involved in this project, go to http://www.brandedPHX.com.

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Food for the Hungry1224 E. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ
85034

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