New plans for Virginia's response to human trafficking - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

New plans for Virginia's response to human trafficking

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

According to local agencies, child sex slaves are currently being rescued from Richmond streets. Human trafficking has become such an issue locally, Governor Bob McDonnell plans to organize a committee to fight it.

At the annual Governor's Summit Thursday, human trafficking survivor Brook Parker-Bello was the keynote speaker. Bello was only 12 years old when she was forced into prostitution with a friend.

"We were beaten and thrown into a bathtub, stripped of our clothes, injected with drugs, hung over balconies with razor blades. We were told who were and what we were going to have to do to survive," said Bello.

For nearly a decade, Bello was forced to have sex for money. She finally escaped and now works with girls and women who have been rescued from the streets. Bello has even published a book.

"Whatever city and whatever state, it's there. They think it's not in that jurisdiction, they think it's in that other jurisdiction. It's not so. It will be in the wealthiest areas, especially on the demand side," she said.

Bello travels nationwide to educate the public on human trafficking. The $52 billion business leaves many victims in its wake, including here in Richmond.

Joshua Bailey founded the group "Gray Haven" in Richmond. It helps children, women, even men who have been forced into the sex trade or forced to work.

Bailey says he recently worked with a man from South America who was sold on the streets of Richmond for $1,800. He was then shipped to Boston to work for a restaurant. Bailey says, that story isn't entirely uncommon.

"The more we delve into the issue, the more we're seeing how diverse a problem it is and how it affects so many different people," said Bailey.

On Friday, the Governor will speak at his summit and also plans to sign an executive directive to step up Virginia's ongoing fight against human trafficking.

To learn more about Gray Haven, visit www.thegrayhaven.org. To learn more about Brook Parker-Bello visit www.moretolife.org.

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