Campus & Community

Student making a global difference

2 min read

Jewish magazine highlights sophomore Rebecca Kantar’s efforts to stop sex trade

In September, the Forward — a weekly publication widely regarded as the essential, independent source of news, arts, and opinion for American Jews — asked readers to nominate Jews, age 21 and younger, who are working to make a difference locally or globally. Forward pared the nominations down to 10 young people, including Harvard student Rebecca Kantar ’14.

Kantar is founder of Minga, a nonprofit organization that aims to combat the child sex trade in the United States. “When we were 14 and high school freshmen, my friends and I learned that the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States was estimated to be just 13,” said Kantar. “The fact that any teenagers were trapped in the sex industry sickened me.”

After raising more than $35,000 for an organization helping exploited teens in the Philippines through “small community events” like yard sales, the Newton, Mass., native and her crew decided to form their own advocacy group. Dubbed Minga — which means “the coming together of a community to work for the betterment of all” in an indigenous South American language — the nonprofit dedicated itself “to combating the child sex trade in the United States,” Kantar said. “We began speaking at local schools and encouraging students to hold awareness-raising events in their communities.” From those beginnings in 2007, Minga has grown into “the only nonprofit organization dedicated to combating the child sex trade by harnessing the power of teens,” she noted. Since its inception, Minga has raised $110,000 “to educate and empower 10,000 youth.” Next for Minga: a 2012 campaign aimed at enlisting the travel industry in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation of children.

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