It’s a crime hiding in plain sight and it affects thousands of people here in our own backyard.
January marks National Human Trafficking Awareness month and there is a push to help raise awareness about the dangers here at home. Law enforcement and community leaders are putting the issue on the spotlight in hopes of saving lives.
Jane White, Executive Director of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force said, “I can tell you based on the work of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force that sexual trafficking has occurred in every county in the state of Michigan.”
Right here in Michigan men, women, and children are forced intro prostitution or forced into modern-day slavery. She said, “With labor and sexual trafficking, both genders male and female are represented.”
“Michigan state police is partnering with our surrounding colleagues so Ohio state highway patrol…Indiana state police…Illinois state police and tat which stands for truckers against trafficking,” said Lt. Brian Oleksyk with the MSP first district.
Human trafficking happens in many forms, but most often its through emotional coercion.
“Most of the time when it comes to human trafficking there’s very few cases of somebody getting kidnapped…they meet somebody online or its a relationship or they kind of know somebody that got into it, he said.”
White agrees and says trafficking happens because criminals abuse peoples vulnerabilities.
“The truth and the reality is that human trafficking occurs because of vulnerabilities of things happening in people’s lives,” White said.
The problem of human trafficking is complex and there are many myths, White said. But the biggest lie is that no one cares.
“There is the help for the community and there are people who care, it’s a long struggle,” she said.