Sulphur High freshman fighting to end human trafficking

By By Johnathan Manning / American Press

Bryttani MacNamara is passionate about ending human trafficking.

Twenty-seven million people are enslaved worldwide, she said.

MacNamara, a 14-year-old Sulphur High freshman, first began to learn about the problem of human trafficking while researching

a middle school social studies fair project.

She quickly became passionate about putting an end to stopping human trafficking and slavery — so much so that she is starting

a nonprofit group, Operation Hope, to spread the message.

“It’s not just the Third World

countries; it’s actually in the U.S., too,” MacNamara said. “What really

hit was we found that

two-thirds of the girls who run away from home between the ages of

13 and 17, within 48 hours they are captured and sold into

sex trafficking. I was 13 at the time, so that really hit close to

home.”

Modern human trafficking often revolves around sex trafficking and forced labor, according to information from the End It

Movement.

The issue came to light locally last

week when a man and woman were arrested at a hotel and charged with

human trafficking.

Authorities said they were attempting to force a woman, who had

traveled willingly with them to the area, into an escort service.

“As long as people don’t believe it’s here, we’re not going to stop it,” said Nicole MacNamara, Bryttani’s mother.

Rusty Havens, a local representative of International Justice Mission, has been reaching out to local motels and hotels offering

instructions on signs of sex trafficking to look for.

Some of those signs are abuse, dress that is provocative or not age appropriate, and a person who isn’t being allowed access

to their own identification, Bryttani said.

“A lot of the trafficking goes through hotels and motels because people don’t ask questions,” she said.

As Bryttani’s interest in stopping human trafficking grew, she decided she wanted to take action.

With the support of teacher Heather Mallett, Bryttani planned a walk to raise money for the cause.

Fifty people showed up and $500 was raised.

“It’s just blossomed since then,” Bryttani said. “This summer I decided I wanted to make it a nonprofit organization.”

A lemonade stand raised $200, but Bryttani has a far bigger goal. Before she graduates from high school, she would like to

open an area home for girls rescued from the sex trafficking trade.

She has passed out trafficking hotline

posters at local truckstops, motels and hotels; plans to pass out

trafficking information

at her high school on Oct. 18; and is helping plan a 2.7-mile

(representing the 27 million people enslaved worldwide) awareness

walk on April 25 and a seminar on April 26.

She’s gotten her family involved, too.

“She continually educates me,” Nicole said. “There’s only one reason that people are involved in human trafficking and it’s

the age-old reason that people are involved in everything. It’s greed.”

Human Trafficking Facts

Up to 27 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2013 Trafficking

in Persons Report.

Human trafficking generates annual profits of $32 billion, according to End It Movement

Most human trafficking victims are 18-24 years old, according to End It.

Most slaves are sold for an average of $90, according to End It.

Up to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States annually, according to End It.