BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Governor Edward’s wife, first lady Donna Edwards, joined a panel of legal professionals and survivors for a symposium on sex trafficking at the LSU Law Center.
The local leader’s goal is to improve the criminal justice response to victims of sex trafficking. Presented by the George W. and Jean H. Pugh Institute for Justice, the symposium took place from 1 to 5 p.m. in the McKernan Auditorium at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center.
“It is alarming to know that the egregious crime of human trafficking happens every day in our communities in plain sight,” said Donna Edwards.
While traveling to places to visit children, the first lady met an 8-year-old girl named Megan. Visiting Megan, Edwards asked the first lady if she can read a poem to her.
During Edward’s speech at the symposium, she tells her audience “Don’t drop your jaw, don’t drop your jaw ” repeating those words in her mind to not drop her jaw after reading Megan’s poem.
Edwards decided to read that same poem to the students, to understand the trauma of sex trafficking and how it can affect young children.
Edwards started to read the poem. “She was the girl who had anxiety at the sound of any man’s voice, she was the girl in first grade who already know about boys,” she said.
By the end of the poem, Edwards says, “She was the girl used for an example of what not to do, she was a girl who always hid, but didn’t play hide and seek. That was Megan.”
According to Human Trafficking Front, one in every nine young adults in America are victims of sex trafficking.
One victim, named Christina Young, started getting involved with the wrong crowd in high school.
“We have to be careful of who trust and call our friends,” said Young. From there, that led her on a different path in life.
“So, I became, a drug addict, and I prostituted myself, and years later, I found out I was being trafficked,” says Young. She describes her experience as a “nightmare.”
Young found her safe place in the Eden House, and now currently works there and gives back.
On Nov. 4, Young says she will be celebrating her 10-year mark of being sober.
” I just want to let the victims know that there is hope,” said Young. “There is someone out there advocating for them. I’m advocating for them. There are thousands more advocating for them. and that there is a way out.”
If you’re looking for a list of resources that could potentially help someone involved in sex trafficking, click here.