Florida ranks #3 in human trafficking states. Following California and New York, Florida contributes greatly to the 9-12 billion dollars in annual profits from forced labor or commercial sex, and considering the global annual profits reached 31.6 billion in 2013, this number proves staggeringly high for one state. Moreover, Jacksonville ranks close to the top of the list of human trafficking cities in Florida, and according to Terry Coonan, executive director of the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, “Human trafficking rivals Microsoft in what it makes annually in sheer profits. It’s one of the greatest growth industries that we currently have in the world, which is a sobering statistic for all of us.”
In light of these disgusting statistics, the issue of modern-day slavery resembles an unscalable mountain for small, resource-lacking nonprofits to challenge. However, one Jacksonville nonprofit has experienced considerable success in its three years of existence.
Rethreaded, an organization that combats human trafficking specifically in the area of the sex trade, employs victims, teaching them life skills, sewing, and providing the support they so desperately require. Their vision is better stated on their website:
“Rethreaded provides a four-month holistic training program for women in the Jacksonville, Florida area who are coming out of lives of addiction, violence, human trafficking, and prostitution. Many of these women leave prison with felony records, creating significant challenges to employment. Rethreaded is a safe place where women are paid a living wage to become artisan seamstresses and “upcycle” donated t-shirts into new creations for sale.”
In 2013, Rethreaded was voted one of the OneSpark winners, and this year, it expanded with a new retail store to display and sell their products, such as the most popular famous “Grace Scarf.” The proceeds of any purchase go towards facilitating the end sex trafficking and aiding these women in their journey to restoration. In the future, Rethreaded aims to develop a program that targets at-risk girls in order to help stop this vicious cycle.
With the development of social media, viral marketing, and a better public awareness of social issues such as human trafficking and the sex trade, organizations, such as Rethreaded, influence more immediate change. The industry of modern slavery has never been okay, but with the increase in awareness of the efforts from nonprofits through the city’s unique crowd-sourcing opportunities and powerful nonprofit community, Jacksonville may someday stand a chance against the statistics.