AUSTIN (KXAN) — Earlier this year a University of Texas study found that 79,000 kids in Texas are victims of sex trafficking. One organization feels not enough has been done to educate the public in an effort to reduce that number, so they put up an art installation along W. Fifth Street and N. Lamar Boulevard on the windows of the West Elm store that aims to get your attention.
Seventy-nine thousand Post-It Notes, each with a name of a girl written on it, hangs from the large window display. Each name represents a young girl who has been a victim of sex trafficking.
Thursday night, a team of volunteers with the organization called The Refuge came out to put the display up that will be in place until Sunday.
The hope is the public will come in, take a name of a victim, and help donate to a brand new facility that will provide care to young girls who are victims of sex trafficking called The Refuge Ranch. It’s on 50 acres in Bastrop County and will provide long-term assistance to girls between the ages of 11 and 17.
The idea for the display came when there was little done following the release of the study.
“Imagine this — 79,000 is the size of the city of Temple or the population of New Braunfels, and if all of those people went missing one day the National Guard would be called out — but no one has called the National Guard,” says Steven Phenix with The Refuge of Austin.
Phenix says one reason you might not see a huge outcry is because 85 percent of the girls lured into sex trafficking are foster or homeless kids who have run away from home or an abusive situation several times. And, the people who advocate for them are typically non-profits.
On Monday, Huston-Tillotson University will host a panel discussion called Hidden In Plain Sight concerning human trafficking and domestic violence. It’s meant to increase knowledge and help spread awareness. The event is Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m., at the Huston-Tillotson campus in the Agard-Lovinggood Auditorium.