Gale McKoy Wilkins

Executive Director's Message

September 2015

Guest Editors –  Nicole Scott and Nadine Parangi, 2015 NCCFW Summer Interns

Have a heart for victims of Human Trafficking

The N.C. Council for Women (CFW) is an advocacy agency housed in the state’s Department of Administration. Established by Executive Order in 1963 by Governor Terry Sanford in order to create an agency that would “advise the Governor, state agencies and the legislature on issues of concern to women”, the CFW has taken on many issues from women’s rights, sexual abuse and domestic violence to displaced homemakers and women in transition. Now the agency is choosing to build awareness of human trafficking.

N.C. resident Christopher Jason Williams obtained a 45 year sentence for forcing two teenage girls to provide sexual services to paying customers. In November Juan Gray-Somerville was sentenced 18 years in prison for the conviction of sex trafficking of a minor. Both men were held accountable for their crimes because of the time and efforts made by the Wake County Violent Crime Task Force; working with state and local law enforcement in which they executed a two-night undercover anti-trafficking operation. In those two nights there were multiple arrests as well as releases of several minors who were victims of sex trafficking.

Abusers involved in the human trafficking industry often seek out vulnerable people such as minors and illegal immigrants (migrant workers) who are forced to work in the $32 billion human trafficking industry. In 2014, North Carolina reported 603 tips on human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline (NHTRC). The number of substantive calls received from NC constitutes the 10th highest call volume of all 50 states and Washington DC in 2014. These statistics are solely based on the calls received by NHTRC Hotline and do not include cases reported to The Polaris Project.

CFW is launching a new project to combat trafficking; Project COPE which stands for: Collaboration, Outreach, Protection, and Empowerment. The purpose of the project is to assess and improve services to children impacted by trafficking. Over the next two years CFW, through Project COPE, will work with agencies such as the NC Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office (YAIO), State Youth Councils (SYC), Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), NC Center for Safer Schools, Department of Public Instruction, and other youth serving organizations to evaluate and share how trafficking can be combatted.

Get involved in spreading awareness and showing you care about human trafficking survivors. Take a photo of yourself and/or others forming the shape of a heart with your hands to post or share with the CFW’s Facebook and all of your friends. Let’s spread support and empower others to join the campaign. You can tweet and share your support on other social media outlets by using the hashtag #iGiveHope.