Advocate for human trafficking victims responds to latest Jonesboro case

Advocate for human trafficking victims responds to latest Jonesboro case

A Wynne woman was charged with human trafficking this week, and it happened at multiple motels in Region 8.

According to court documents, Amber Nicole Johnson, 28, forced two of her female relatives, 14 and 17 years old, to have sex with multiple men a day at various Jonesboro and Little Rock motels.

"I would think fear would be the driving force of these girls' everyday lives," said Audra King, a volunteer with Partners Against Human Trafficking. "It's easy to put a judgmental eye on them for seeing what they're doing but truly they're victims. They're not there because they want to be."

The two teens became victims of human trafficking after they ran away from their foster home. Police say Johnson prostituted the girls at multiple motels in those two cities for months. The victims told Jonesboro police they were forced to have sex with four to six men a day, while Johnson pocketed about $50 from each John.

"There is a huge threat," King said.

Johnson's threat to the girls: she and her children would go hungry if they did not have sex with the men.

"When you don't think there's anyone out there who cares other than this individual who's promised you this lifestyle, leaving is not an option any more," King said.

However, the two teens escaped. Police busted Johnson after one of the girls told them what happened.

"I just can't imagine what it's going to take for them for the rest of their lives to just every day move past that," King said.

Nonprofits, like Partners Against Trafficking Humans in Little Rock, can help. PATH's founder was trafficked herself. The organization offers safe housing, free medical exams, even spiritual assistance to girls 18 and older.

"Help these girls get their feet back on the ground, give them a start and give them the tools they need to be able to function again in society," King said.

She said there are too few of these organizations in the country. According to the Freedom Youth Project Foundation, 300,000 American children are trafficked every year, yet there are only 300 total treatment beds for them in the U.S.

King hopes to eventually put a PATH home in Jonesboro, especially after this local case.

"These are girls. These are daughters," she said. "We have our own girls here that we need to protect."

The victim's in Johnson's case were not protected, but now that they are free, King calls on the community to replace their fear with love.

"You are so much more than what that woman has seen you as," she said. "We should wrap our arms around them and love them and really show them that love is not giving your body away."

PATH currently needs volunteers. If interested, email or visit PATH's website for more information.

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