Rowe raising awareness on human trafficking

Published 11:37 am Thursday, August 10, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

Catherine Rowe is using her journey to qualify for the Miss Alabama pageant as an opportunity to spread awareness and help fight human trafficking.

Rowe spoke about this opportunity during the Aug. 9 meeting of the Rotary Club of Chilton County.

Rowe has organized the Run for the Rescue 5K run/ walk to raise funds for The Well House and Blanket Fort Hope. The Well House serves those rescued from human trafficking in Alabama. Blanket Fort Hope in Shelby County serves child victims of human trafficking.

“Every seven minutes a child goes missing, and a lot of times the victims of human trafficking are runaways,” Rowe said. “Poverty stricken areas have a lot more businesses in human trafficking.”

Human trafficking in the United States often involves forced prostitution.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery through force, fraud, or coercion,” according to The Well House website.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing form of organized crime in the United States.

Rowe’s awareness of the issue of human trafficking began while volunteering with Service Over Self in Memphis.

“Our job was to roof houses, so we did two houses during the week and met a whole lot of people from all over America,” Rowe said.

One man began telling Rowe and her friends his story, and how Service Over Self helped him. The girls were interested in his story and got to know him better. The fellow volunteer then offered to show them another part of town.

“He took us down this street in Memphis and … he said, ‘I want to tell you before we get here that you are going to see a lot of girls and women walking down these streets. I can tell you that 99 percent of them are involved in human trafficking,'” Rowe said.

She said at that time, as a freshman in college, Rowe did not know what human trafficking was.

“Obviously, this was something that was bad, and most of these girls looked 12 or 13,” Rowe said.

Their guide told them he had been a part of trafficking before Service over Self helped him get off the street.

“We got back and I started researching about human trafficking,” Rowe said. “I got back from that trip and … I had been in the Miss America organization, but decided to change my platform because it made me very passionate about stopping that.”

Run for the Rescue, visiting Sheriff’s Offices and school visits to talk about this issue and prevention are all a part of her plan. For more information about Run for the Rescue, visit

Rowe said “over 150,000 in the U.S. alone are forced into sex trafficking every year,” and the average age of these victims is 12.  This illegal industry is said to generate $32 billion every year, Rowe said. The average victim only lives for seven years once they are being trafficked.

Rowe is a 2014 graduate of Chilton County High School.

In order to qualify to for competing in Miss Alabama, Rowe must win a local title. The scholarship funds awarded to the winner is her motivation for competing. Rowe is a student at Southern Union Community College and plans on being a nurse.