Raise awareness

WILLOW CITY Georgia Rose of Willow City hopes to raise awareness of the evils of human trafficking with a 3,000 mile bike tour that will take her from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla., in January and February.

There will also be a training session at 4 p.m. Dec. 7 at Crossroads Baptist Church, 415-28th Ave. SE in Minot, to help people in the area learn how to recognize the danger signs of human trafficking locally. For more information, call the church at 838-1873.

Rose said she will travel on the bike tour with a cycling partner, Jenn Krusow, of Duluth, Minn., whom she met when she interned with the Source Annex, an urban ministry outreach art center in the Philips neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Rose, who grew up on an organic farm near Willow City, said her interest in the topic of human trafficking started about a decade ago when she saw a news segment on 60 Minutes. She attended a college near Minneapolis and later interned at Source Annex, which helps serve women coming out of sex trafficking find transitional homes. Rose served as a mentor for women in a transitional home model.

According to Rose, her ultimate goal is to open a transitional home and school at her farm for young women coming out of human trafficking. She currently manages the farm and works as a substitute teacher in the area.

She said sex trafficking is a huge problem nationwide and is becoming a larger problem in North Dakota with the increase in population here due to the oil boom. The rate of prosecutions for prostitution has doubled in North Dakota in recent years, she said, and some of those incidences may include forced prostitution. The average age for young people to be forced into prostitution is 13, said Rose.

The signs of human trafficking can be subtle, but Rose said people should keep an eye out for a lot of contraceptives located around someone’s personal space. Victims of sex trafficking may seem guarded or suspicious of others and may have unexplained physical injuries, such as welts, burns or bruises. They might act afraid of a boyfriend, who might actually be a pimp.

Youngsters may be led into trafficking through misleading friendships, false advertising, family connections or because they have been kidnapped, as well as by “sham lovers” who pretend to love them but really want to use them to turn tricks.

Most people involved in forced prostitution want to escape, she said.

Rose and Krusow will be updating people on their bicycle tour on the blog at (faithinactionblog.org). People can make donations at (indiegogo.com) and by searching Cycling for a Cause: Ending Modern Slavery. All money raised will go to benefit the Annex Network, a daughter program of Source MN. According to the website at (indiegogo.com), the program has a transitional home with three beds in one apartment for women getting out of forced prostitution. Mentor volunteers, young women between the ages of 20 to 35, work with the women getting out of human trafficking in spiritual, physical an social skills. The network also mentors other groups interested in starting their own transitional homes. Their goal is to have many small homes located across the midwestern United States that serve women who have escaped from human trafficking. Funds will be used to have a full time social worker who will serve several homes and for the expenses associated with mentoring and starting transitional homes, such as travel expenses, start up costs, and moving expenses for the women. Expenses might also include grocery bills, school supplies and art events or camping to help women heal.

Rose and Krusow have set a goal of raising $5,500 for their campaign.