S.O.A.P. (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution)
If you don't think human trafficking happens in your zip code, think again.
….an outreach program sponsored by the Boston Unit of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Brighton, MA: On Saturday, April 12, the Boston Unit of the LCWR Anti-Trafficking Coalition hosted a S.O.A.P Outreach Campaign led by its founder, Theresa Flores. This SOAP Outreach was a hands-on, action orientated initiative aimed at broadening awareness of hotel/motel managers and owners of the reality of human trafficking in the Boston Area.
How did the SOAP Outreach Campaign get started? On her worst night, being auctioned off to nearly two dozen men in a dingy, dirty, inner city motel, Ms. Flores recalled the only item that would have reached out to her, a bar of soap with which to clean up. With that in mind, she created SOAP-Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution. Since its founding, SOAP, an Ohio based group, has partnered with the non-profit, Be FREE Dayton to distribute thousands of bars of soap labeled with a red band that gives the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (888.3737.888) and key identifying questions to high-risk motels.
During the Boston area SOAP Outreach, over 70 participants wrapped thousands of bars of soap, prepared them for distribution, and traveled to approximately 40 area hotels. While participants packaged the soap, Theresa offered suggestions on how to approach hotel managers and shared her story as a survivor of human trafficking. 100,000 American youth are being trafficked right now. The average age of entry into prostitution in the US is 12-14 years of age. Theresa emphasized that there is no such thing as teen prostitution. If you are under 18, you are a trafficking victim. As the second leading crime worldwide and in US, human trafficking is an epidemic. To view a slideshow of the day, click here.
In visiting hotels, small groups spoke with hotel managers about human trafficking, offered posters with pictures of young girls in this area who are being trafficked right now, and asked that they make the soap available in their hotel. As participants returned from visiting the hotels, most reported that they were greeted with a combination of respect, concern, a desire to do more, and some disbelief that this actually happens right here. Before and after each SOAP Outreach, Flores compares calls made to the National Trafficking Hotline to report incidents of human trafficking. Usually there is an increase in reported incidents -- an indication that this initiative is making a difference.
SOAP Outreach offers those concerned about human trafficking an opportunity to do something concrete in the ongoing battle to end this crime against human dignity. SOAP is made possible completely through the generosity of supporters. Across the country, SOAP Outreach Campaigns are being offered by schools, churches, and other. For more information about SOAP or to learn how to host a SOAP Outreach Campaign visit: www.traffickfree.com.
PICTURED ABOVE: Theresa Flores, founder of SOAP Outreach, works on preparations with Mary Theresa O’Reilly, CSJ, of St. Joseph Preparatory School, Brighton, Marilyn Audit and Helene Higgins, CSJ, of Catholic Charities in New Hampshire, and Brenda Forry, CSJ, Brighton resident.
Anti-Trafficking Coalition of the Boston Unit of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious [LCWR]. Members of LCWR are Catholic women religious who are leaders of their orders in the United States. The conference has approximately 1500 members, who represent about 85 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States. The conference develops leadership, promotes collaboration within church and society, and serves as a voice for systemic change. Visit their website www.lcwr.org. The Boston Unit of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious includes sixteen Congregations representing over a thousand women religious in the greater Boston area.
SOAP is an Outreach that aims to distribute thousands of bars of soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number and key identifying questions FREE to local motels. Volunteers talk to motel owners and managers and provide them with a quick overview of what is happening to young girls in their hotels. Learn more about SOAP founder, Theresa Flores, and her plight to stop human trafficking by sharing her slave story in the book, The Slave Across the Street. Her human trafficking organization, Traffickfree is focused on building awareness through the S.O.A.P. outreach, speaking at colleges, churches, and more.