NEW YORK, May 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Jennifer Kempton, a former sex slavery victim who founded the U.S.-based charity Survivor’s Ink to help other trafficked women, died on Thursday, an associate said, prompting a series on tributes on social media.
Kempton used tattoos to cover up those branded on her by sex traffickers and she founded her non-profit group in 2014 to provide grants so others could do the same.
Kempton, who lived in Columbus, Ohio, died on Thursday morning, according to Paula Haines, executive director of Freedom a la Cart, a catering and box lunch company that trains and employs trafficking survivors.
Kempton previously worked at Freedom a la Cart, and both organizations often worked with the same survivors, Haines said.
Local police said they received a report of an accidental drug overdose and took Kempton, unconscious and unresponsive, to an area hospital late on Wednesday night.
Police did not have official confirmation that Kempton died, and the hospital, Mount Carmel West, did not respond to a request for information.
Kempton, who often spoke publicly about her experiences, aimed to help survivors whose traffickers had tattooed or branded them to show ownership and control.
Globally some 4.5 million people are trapped in sexual exploitation, according to the United Nation’s International Labour Organization, generating an estimated $99 billion in illegal profits a year.
“It’s always amazing to see the look on their face when they no longer have to look at this dehumanizing mark of ownership and violence,” Kempton told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview last year.
“Sometimes I’ll get a call a few days later with someone just bawling their eyes out saying ‘Oh my gosh, I can actually look at my body. It’s my own again.'”
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