January Is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
What Is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to compel someone to engage in commercial sex or forced labor or services. It includes all acts involving the recruitment, abduction, transport, harboring, transfer, sale or receipt of a person for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, slavery or exploitation.
“Because North Carolina is one of the top 10 states in prevalence of human trafficking, collaboration among disciplines, such as law enforcement, case managers, social workers, school personnel, nonprofit advocates, and others is critical,” said Pam Strickland, founder of Eastern N.C. Stop Human Trafficking Now.
“Awareness and education of the general public and of professionals who may encounter victims in the course of their jobs is also vital,” Strickland explained. “The more eyes and ears we have looking for victims, the more victims can be RESCUED AND RESTORED.”
Why Is Human Trafficking Prevalent in NC?
The geographic location of N.C., in part, contributes to the high number of victims and survivors living in the state. North Carolina lies in the center of the triangle between Washington, D.C., Charlotte and Atlanta, all of which are hubs of human trafficking. North Carolina also lies at the crossroads of several major interstates, including Interstate 40, which crosses the state from west to east, as well as several interstates running north to south across the state. These highways facilitate sex and labor trafficking.
What Can You DO?
The first step to ending human trafficking in the state is to raise awareness among North Carolinians that human trafficking is a problem that affects North Carolinians.
“All citizens can make a difference in preventing this crime, once we are aware, ” said Patricia Witt, co-founder of Partners Against Trafficking Humans in N.C. “After learning what to observe, we are then equipped to better protect our own family and community, as well as report potential situations of human trafficking.
Witt added that “the more reporting we do, the more difficult it becomes for this crime to remain low risk and hidden beneath the surface.”