New facility to help human trafficking victims opens in St. Louis

(Credit: KMOV)

The Department of Justice has named St. Louis among the top 20 cities in the country for sex trafficking.

The Covering House is a non-profit in the St. Louis area and gives restoration to trafficked girls between 13 and 17-years-old.

The founder Dedee Lhamon said they’ve taken in girls as young as 7-years-old.

“I spoke with a detective out in the county and a couple of years and ago and he told me ‘Dedee if I had the resources I could rescue two-to-three girls a day,’” said Lhamon. “And I know one of the detectives that we work with over in the city will tell you that he rescues and picks up girls on a regular basis.”

Lhamon said the girls are often either lured in by strangers and promised a modeling career or rented out by their family members.

Lhamon told News4 there are three main reasons St. Louis ranks high: The international airport, trucking industries in Missouri and Illinois, and the clubs across the river in East St. Louis.

“The men doing them most say ‘listen this is just a business if people were purchases these kids, we’d sell something else, but this is what people are purchasing so this is what we sell,’” said Lhamon. “So the men who purchase are the ones driving the demand in this business. So we need to get to those men who are doing this.”

According to the Department of Justice, there are an estimated 300,000 children are at risk of being forced into prostitution in the United States each year and the average age of entry is 13-years-old.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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