Keep shining a light on human trafficking

Published 1:00 pm Thursday, January 16, 2020

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In 2011, President Barack Obama declared Jan. 11 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

The trafficking and victim’s protection act of 2000 (TVPA), defines severe forms of trafficking as sex trafficking, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or if the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.

The act also defines labor trafficking as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

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A victim does not have to be physically transported between one location to another for the crime to fall into this definition.

In the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released by the Department of State, it is estimated that 24.9 million people worldwide — about three times the population of New York City — are being stripped of their basic human dignity.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Alabama had 89 cases reported in 2018. Our neighbors in Georgia, however, had one of the highest number of cases reported in 2018, 375.

Interstate 85 is a major corridor for human trafficking and puts our communities at immediate risk every day.

This is not only a human rights issue but also a child abuse issue as not every case involves persons over the age of 18.

‘Human trafficking is often associated as a not sex crime and that is not the case, there are several forms of trafficking crimes including labor trafficking.

Labor traffickers use forms of coercion to force people to work against their will.

Just this week at the West Point city council meeting, Mayor Steve Trammel proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month as did many other cities in the area.

We applaud all that have taken an active role in fighting this battle against this heinous crime and we as a community should join in this fight and always be aware of your surroundings.

You can reach the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also text to 233733.