While working to end human trafficking in the Triangle, Salvation Army volunteer Amy Crouch noticed that most advocates were women. Seeking to see more men fighting trafficking, the stay-at-home mom of two called on her husband, a home brewer, and his beer-brewing community to participate.
On Friday, Crouch will help launch a casual event geared toward guys: the Brewers Against Brothels beer-tasting and information event.
Four local breweries will serve craft pints at the Visual Arts Exchange in downtown Raleigh. Volunteers will offer information and answers about human trafficking as a national and local problem.
Trophy Brewing Co., Raleigh Brewing Co., Big Boss Brewing Co. and Lonerider Brewing Co. donated kegs to the tasting. Chris Powers, co-owner of Trophy Brewing, said the brewers plan to repeat this event next year and have already heard interest from others.
“The brewing community is tight-knit,” he said. “We like to support each other through things we are passionate about.”
Project F.I.G.H.T. (Freeing Individuals Gripped by Human Trafficking) is a branch of the Salvation Army of Wake County that has raised awareness about human trafficking. In the past three years, the Salvation Army has cared for more than 109 victims of both sex and labor slavery. Each year, the organization expands and embraces more survivors.
Project F.I.G.H.T. wants to see men volunteer as mentors and provide a healthy model of masculinity.
“This is not just a women’s issue anymore,” said Jessica P., a training and education manager who cannot give her last name for safety reasons. “It is not just women caring about women; it is men and women caring about everyone’s issue.”
Amy Crouch agrees. “Most clients are women and girls and most of them have not had male interaction that is not either abusive or asking something of them in return,” she said.
Project F.I.G.H.T. reports that 28 percent of its program participants are minors. Last year, the state legislature passed “safe harbor” laws that qualify minors involved in prostitution as victims of human trafficking and therefore applicable for state services.
Raleigh is a hotspot for human trafficking because of its crossing interstates, said Jessica P.
Trafficking happens “wherever you can easily move people,” she said, adding that the number of universities and military bases add to the vulnerability in the state. Popular tourist areas, such as the Outer Banks, also often attract demand for traffickers.
In 2013, 623 individuals in North Carolina called the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, mostly from major cities such as Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh and Fayetteville, and in coastal areas such as Wilmington and Elizabeth City. This was the 12th-highest call volume of the 50 states last year.
Volunteers can participate in Project F.I.G.H.T. through mentorship, sponsorship of anonymous clients, financial support and specific services that lawyers, nurses or counselors can offer.
The highest priority
Case managers with Project F.I.G.H.T. say that even with many startup organizations across the state, actual prevention of trafficking needs to be the highest priority.
“I would like to see better statewide coordination and effort,” Jessica P. said. “We need to get people on the same page.”
To report a suspected victim of trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline: 888-373-7888. To get involved in Raleigh, call 919-834-6733 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.