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A21 Walk for Freedom brings attention to sex trafficking

Posted at 5:20 PM, Oct 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-17 11:28:18-04

TULSA, Okla — A21 is an organization that works to rescue sex trafficking survivors and raise awareness about the crime.

Tens of thousands of people across the globe, including here in Tulsa, took millions of steps as part of today's "A21 Walk for Freedom".

Co-organizer, Meg Weinkauf, says she hopes the event will give a voice to the voiceless, and get the community plugged into local organizations working to fight sex trafficking.

"This is much bigger than all of us and so what we are here to do is spur action in every single human being on this planet and that they can know that they can do something", Weinkauf said.

Sara Jane Vegas is a survivor of sex trafficking and has been working for nine years to bring attention to this crime.

She said the crime is happening all across the globe, including here at home.

Vegas told 2 News, "this is happening here in our own backyard. This is not happening just overseas and it's not women being shipped into the state. It is women from this state".

This is a cause she is passionate about because she was a victim of sex trafficking 13 years ago but she was able to escape from her traffickers.

One common misconception about sex trafficking is that victims always get kidnapped and taken into sexual slavery by strangers.

She said the victims are usually groomed and manipulated by people they know or people they build a relationship with.

Vegas said, "people have this idea traffickers come at Walmart and kidnap your child. That’s not what they do, now they have access to your children 24/7 on their social media.

She said they didn't kidnap her from day one, it took months of manipulation before they took her to another country and locked her inside a house.

After surviving sex trafficking, Vegas has made it her mission to advocate for and rescue those who are currently in the position she was once in.

She founded a non-profit called Stand 4 Justice that works to free victims trapped in trafficking situations.

"I want victims to know they are not alone, there is hope, I want victims to know there is a community behind them that we see and believe their stories", Vegas said.

Vegas says anyone can help the victims and help prevent sex trafficking.

"Everybody has a part to play, not everyone is called to the front lines. You can educate young people, help make gift bags for victims, help with cooking classes, there's so many ways you can make an impact in this fight", Vegas said.

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