November 20, 2013
The Community Foundation of New Jersey today announced it is supporting a coalition of organizations utilizing the newest weapon in the fight against human trafficking: soap.
With the Community Foundation’s support, the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking will be distributing thousands of bars of soap on whose wrapping there is a crisis hotline for human trafficking. The bars of soap will be placed in hotels and motels in the vicinity of the 2014 Super Bowl, the type of large-scale event during which forced prostitution is most likely to occur.
The project, Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (SOAP), provides an opportunity for victims of sexual exploitation to get help. In addition to bars of soap, the project provides each hotel or motel with posters of missing children from the area and “Red Flag” brochures for housekeeping carts to help identify the signs of human trafficking.
“Our own research on human trafficking combined with our donors’ increased interest in the subject compelled us to support this coalition and shine a light on their work,” said Hans Dekker, president of the Community Foundation. “This summer’s FBI raid that rescued over 100 child victims across more than 70 cities put in perspective the pervasiveness of this horrible crime and the need to do something about it in our communities.”
New Jersey’s proximity to New York City and extensive transportation network make it a hub for all forms of human trafficking. The Polaris Project, one of the coalition’s member organizations, reports that the national hotline received roughly 800 calls about suspected human trafficking cases in New Jersey between 2007 and 2012. Major sporting events like the Super Bowl often trigger a spike in the demand for commercial sex trafficking.
“The SOAP Campaign provides direct contact and a form of assistance with the victims at the time of the incident,” said Sue Flynn, Chair of the Junior Leagues of NJ State Public Affairs Committee. “In addition, through the outreach we are educating and training the community and hotel staff. This enables citizens of New Jersey to fight against human trafficking beyond the Super Bowl.”
To learn more about human trafficking or report suspicious activity, call 888-373-7888 or text BeFree to 233733. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national toll-free hotline available to answer calls and texts from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
To learn more about SOAP and ways to help, please contact the Community Foundation at 973-267-5533.