Often when we hear news about something that is tragic we turn the other cheek, for those horrible things often happen in areas that are not near us or are removed enough that we feel we are safe. What happens when you find out that you and/or your loved ones may not be safe? Your sense of well-being is disturbed.
This is what happened when I found out about human trafficking in Michigan. I feel safe in the area where I live and was shocked to find out that human trafficking is a very real concern for this area due to our close proximity to the border. We always think something may happen to someone else, but not us. Horrible things happen in other countries, but not ours…at least that is what we want to believe.
I was shocked to learn that Michigan is one of the top spots in the United States for human trafficking. What was even more surprising was to learn that Michigan ranks no. 2 in the country for human trafficking in the sex trade. No. 1 is Nevada. Two of the things that make Michigan a primary spot is our close proximity to Canada and our waterways. They help make the exploitation of vulnerable persons in this state a lucrative business.
Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Force, fraud, and coercion to control are used to elicit commercial sexual acts, labor or service. Sex is conducted through brothels, escort services, fake massage businesses, and strip clubs. Labor is used in domestic work, small businesses, large farms and factories.
Human trafficking takes place in all fifty states and Washington DC. It is a highly lucrative trade. There are high profits and it is low risk. It is one of the most profitable criminal industries worldwide. As of June 30, 2015 there were 2,084 cases of sex trafficking nationally, and an estimated 1.5 million total victims of human trafficking in North America. The going rate for humans on the global market is $90.00. Humans are sold and re-sold, yielding a nice profit for those in the business.
Labor trafficking is found in agriculture, manufacturing and construction jobs. Victims work in fields, factories, are denied their rightful earnings and live and/or work in deplorable conditions. Sex trafficking is found at Michigan truck stops, hotels and special events. Victims are offered as sex toys at temporary brothels, sporting events, conventions, and large gatherings.
Teens and runaways are especially vulnerable. They are often enticed by promises of love, affection, and gifts. Guerilla tactics are also used, meaning violence, threats, and consequences if they do not comply with orders. We must protect our youth from becoming victims of this crime. Educate them on the risks. Make sure they are aware of the tactics used to lure them in. This is a very real crime taking place in our own backyard. We need to take control and eliminate the risk to save our youth.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week and can take calls in over 200 languages. They can be reached at 888-373-7888 or traffickingresourcecenter.org.