A tortuous path to establish a safe haven for young women who have been forced into the sex trade may be nearly completed.

Chuck Fernandez, CEO of Catholic Charities of the East Bay, speaking to the February Catholics at Work breakfast said that he hopes to see Claire’s House in operation as soon as May.

But Fernandez cautioned he makes no guarantees. The project has been under development for several years and has overcome an intimidating number of the obstacles, related to the extremely tough problem it seeks to address.

Claire’s House is designed to provide a stable, secure living place for girls between 12 and 18 who have survived commercial sexual exploitation. Forced into the sex trade at such young ages makes the girls more vulnerable, less able to cope with it and less able to recover if they do escape.

Many other efforts to help exploited girls in the U.S. have failed, Fernandez noted. So planning for the Oakland safe haven has been a tortuous, difficult effort.

The problem Claire’s House will try to resolve is creating a place where trafficked girls can live safely, rebuild their self-respect and learn how to live a decent life after they become adults.

Overall, “we want to raise awareness of sex trafficking and decrease demand.”

If it fails? As simply stated by Fernandez, “the average life of a girl after the sex trade is seven years.”

Full story at The Catholic Voice.