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BRIGHTON -- The Boston Unit of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) Anti-Trafficking Coalition hosted a Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (SOAP) outreach campaign led by its founder, Theresa Flores, April 12. This SOAP outreach was a hands-on, action orientated initiative aimed to broaden awareness of hotel managers and owners of the reality of human trafficking in the Boston area.
The SOAP campaign takes its name from an experience Flores had as a teenage human trafficking victim. On her worst night in a dingy, dirty, inner city motel, Flores recalled the only item that she had access to; a bar of soap with which to clean up. 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 (888-373-7888) 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. In visiting the hotels, small groups spoke with 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.
Returning from their visits, several participants reported that they were greeted with a combination of respect, concern, a desire to do more, as well as some disbelief that this human trafficking is taking place locally.
Flores said that before and after each SOAP Outreach, she compares calls made to the National Trafficking Hotline to report incidents of human trafficking. Usually, she said, there is an increase in reported incidents -- an indication that this initiative is making a difference.
More information about SOAP is available at www.traffickfree.com.