January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit. In some cases, traffickers trick, defraud or physically force victims into providing commercial sex. In others, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions. It is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world. Types of human trafficking include labor trafficking, debt bondage, and sex trafficking. In the U.S., sex trafficking is the most commonly reported type of trafficking. In June 2019, The US Department of State published the 538 page Trafficking in Persons Report. The State Department report confirms sex trafficking as the most reported and prosecuted trafficking with the following statistic: “During FY 2018, Department Of Justice secured convictions against 526 traffickers. Of these, 501 involved predominantly sex trafficking and 25 involved predominantly labor trafficking.”
Included in the report is a message from U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. “Each one of us can be a champion for freedom and use our specific strengths to help eradicate human trafficking. Individuals can learn the common indicators for human trafficking and call in suspicious activities to the local or national hotline. Businesses can take meaningful steps to eliminate forced labor from their supply chains. First responders can enhance training and put in place screening to help identify trafficking victims. Government leaders can prioritize investigating and prosecuting labor and sex trafficking cases wherever they occur.
Alongside us in the battle are those who sadly know first-hand how depraved this assault on human dignity really is. We salute the brave survivors who have already become instrumental partners in the global fight to combat human trafficking.”
One of the individuals working on combating human trafficking on a local level is Bukola Oriola. Bukola is a Minnesota resident, former Alexandra House client, and a member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. Appointed by President Barack Obama in December 2015, Oriola is also an award winning journalist and a survivor of labor trafficking, who has dedicated her life to helping others by sharing her story and offering practical solutions to service providers, clinics, community members, and law enforcement on how to rescue victims of human trafficking. Watch her YouTube video Human Trafficking 101 and become a partner in the fight to end human trafficking.
Alexandra House works with clients who have experienced sex trafficking, and we as an organization are committed to working with other community agencies to support survivors and combat more instances of this abuse.