SAGE leaders, staff testify at City Council hearing on trafficking

A July 10 City Council hearing on human trafficking heard from law enforcement officials and advocates, including prostitution survivors active with CCH’s Survivor Advocacy Group Empowered (SAGE).

Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) and Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) sponsored a resolution calling for the hearing, and 34 aldermen signed on.

“Survivors of the sex trade need services, and now is the time,” SAGE leader Glenda Sykes said. “They need a safe haven where they can turn for help. Chicagoans can no longer go on not having a way out for these young minors and women.” 

Also testifying from CCH were SAGE leader Leeanna Majors and Policy Specialist Jennifer Cushman.

“In a survey of women in Cook County jail who had been involved in the sex trade, 36% were first prostituted before the age of 18,” Ms. Cushman said. “Aldermen can lead the way for improved police protocols and coordination with service providers in order to prioritize protecting these most innocent and vulnerable victims and give them a chance at a better future.”

Themes of testimony included recruitment and victimization of minors in sex trafficking and prostitution, the need for housing and services for survivors, the importance of reducing arrest and incarceration of victims and needed improvements in the response of the Chicago Police Department. Witnesses included the Cook County State’s Attorney and representatives from advocacy groups and service providers such as the Salvation Army’s Stop-IT, CAASE and CLAIM.