Last week, I participated in two breakout sessions on Human Trafficking sponsored by the N.I.S Women of the E.L.C.A. (W.E.L.C.A.) as part of the Northern Illinois Synod (N.I.S.), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, (E.L.C.A.) Congregational Resourcing Event at Kiswaukee College in Malta Illinois. Conference attendees of almost 400 traveled from throughout Northern Illinois. I was one of eight speakers including professors from three area colleges and other religious leaders including an Amman. I did not travel alone; our Traffick Teens, life size cardboard figures with short real life stories of trafficking, kept me company and were placed prominently throughout the building.
After the second breakout session, a woman approached me. After we briefly discussed the importance and difficulty of speaking about sex trafficking with our children, she told me she was raped as a sixteen year old and had not shared this information with anyone before, even her husband. We talked about how much it continued to affect her and the importance of seeking help.
While, the #MeToo movement is gaining momentum, this experience showed me how many are still living in its shadow. JCAST Chicago is focused on changing our culture of objectifying women and advocating for more services to support women and girls who have experienced trafficking and other forms of gender based violence. Only, together can we successfully demand and create this new society.
~ Gayle Nelson, JCAST Chicago Engagement and Development Director