Washington Area Women's Foundation

Ahead of the curve in fighting human trafficking in D.C.

I wanted to share a story from a recent case of human trafficking in D.C. that Polaris Project handled to show the impact of the work we’re doing and how The Women’s Foundation plays a role in it. 

Like many others, Rosa* was struggling to find employment.  While at the mall, Rosa was handed a business card and told about the opportunity to become a waitress. Rosa called the number and set up an interview.  When she arrived, she was pulled into a vehicle and taken to a brothel.  Rosa was forced into prostitution and suffered horrific abuse and threats. Thankfully, she found a moment to escape, ran outside, and flagged down a moving bus.  The driver called 9-1-1. Once the police arrived and identified Rosa as a trafficking victim, they immediately contacted our on-call staff to provide emergency assistance.

We provided Rosa with her first meal in three days and clothing and accompanied her to the hospital for treatment.  Rosa is steadily recovering.  She secured safe housing and hopes to reconnect with her family members living outside of the United States.

The Women’s Foundation has been really ahead of the curve in recognizing human trafficking as a grave danger to women and girls in our community and across the country. 

I wish that the story I provided was a rare case, but we help people in similar situations on a regular basis.  With the support of The Women’s Foundation, Polaris Project has helped 50 trafficking victims locally in 2009 and provided more than 850 nights of shelter through our transitional housing program in D.C.

The support The Women’s Foundation has provided has been really important to our local efforts.

*Name was changed to protect the identity of the client.

Tayler Wilhelm is the Senior Development Officer with Polaris Project, a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation and winner of the 2009 Leadership Awards online vote.