An orphaned infant at age 3 who turned to prostitution for six years at age 13 now mentors others to help them start new lives after capture by pimps who prey on runaways.
“It’s a growing crime — an increase from three to 165 pending cases in Miami- Dade County, just over the past year and one-half,” declared Marilyn March, executive director for The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade County.
“Through a $1,500 donation, we helped establish an organic garden in Homestead where at age 26, this girl began working and now supervises others to begin a productive life, raising vegetable crops that are sold at farmer’s markets.
“She told me recently, ‘This is the first time in my life that I’ve sold something other than my body,’” March said.
March’s description of that single incident dramatized the intensity of a current postcard campaign undertaken through Community Partners for Change to alert the community to “Warning Signs” for sales of children for sex.
Established in 1993, The Women’s Fund has aided over 400 different programs, raising $3.1 million in grants for research, advocacy and education.
“We recently received a $36,000 contribution that provided funds to print a simple postcard that provides warning signs to parents who might otherwise be unaware of ongoing sex trafficking,” she told a West Kendall audience at the Oct. 30 meeting of the Citizens Advisory Committee at Miami- Dade Police Hammocks District Station.
“Few who live in our county may realize how serious this situation has become. One in seven children in Florida alone now becomes a runaway, and of that number, one in three is approached for sexual exploitation,” she said.
She estimated that with teen prostitutes “turning up to eight customers a day, a pimp easily earns $200,000 yearly on a single girl — and becomes a millionaire with just a few of these children under his influence.”
March urged recognition of Switchboard of Miami hotline (305-350-5567) to report or seek help in potential sex abuse cases occurring in a home or neighborhood area.
For details on the “Stop Sale of Children” campaign, visit stopsextraffickingmiami.org. For information regarding The Women’s Fund programs and contributions, call 305-441-0506 or visit womensfundmiami.org.