ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Old bras are giving women and children sold into sexual slavery new life. It's a charity called "Free the Girls," and that's exactly what its doing. A single bra donated by a woman in St. Louis can provide a woman in Africa half a days wages.
You normally don't see bras hanging from the ceiling of a gift shop store but they're everywhere at Rosemary Grove in Kirkwood. "So many women have that bra graveyard in their drawer where it doesn't fit right or women lose weight or gain weight and they have alot of extra ones." said Rosemary Grove Owner Sarah Wood.
27 million men women and children around the world are forced into sexual slavery. 80 percent of them are women and children. The donated bras are going to women in Mozambique to sell on the streets. These women are able to break away from sexual trafficking as a way to feed their families and sell the donated bras instead.
Tanishinya was just 15 years old when she was trafficked for sex in Mozambique. "Someone will take you and promise they're going to give you money but they just beat you. When you go to the hospital you are left there to die because you are nobody. You are a slave." said former prostitute Tashinya.
Kimba Langas wanted to help Tanishinya and other girls like her. The first year she started a Facebook campaign for used bras. She collected 20,000 bras. Two years later Kimba will send 70,000 bras from all over the country to Africa this year.
"They sell for about $1 a piece so one bra provides half a days income. That's pretty powerful and gives a woman a lot of flexibility." said Free the Girls Executive Director Kimba Langas. "Its something I've worn on my body, close to my heart, that's going to change the life of a woman half way across the world that I've never met."
Back in Kirkwood Rosemary Grove wants to free girls in Africa and here in St. Louis. part of the proceeds from their store will go to Covering House, A local organization helping children who escape sexual trafficking in St. Louis.
"St. Louis is one of the top cities in the United States for trafficking of minors. I think that is surprising for most people." said Martha Ward of Covering House. "Our ultimate goal is to provide a safe home for them. The statistics say up to 300,000 children in our country are being trafficked and there's no place for them to go."
Rosemary Grove is looking for gently used bras in all sizes. You can drop them off at their store located in Kirkwood through the end of June. You can also donate new undergarments in girl's sizes. Those bras will be donated to the Covering House.
Donate Gently used bras:
Free the Girls Drop off:
101A W. Argonne
Drop off runs through end of June