By Dave Roseleip
Two years ago I took a group of leaders from Washington State to Cambodia to study the economic, government, and social aspects of the country. One of our visits was to a group called AIM which rescues people from human trafficking and helps rehabilitate them. We tend to believe that human trafficking only happens in third world countries.That is not the case.
I was so moved by the evil of this practice that when I came home I decided I wanted to get more involved in rescuing people from it and preventing it. Not to mention going after those who are the perpetrators of this unspeakable injustice to vulnerable people.
Upon doing some research in my own community, I discovered that human trafficking for sexual purposes and work exploitation happens in my own community. In fact, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the crime has been reported in every single state in the United States.
In my research, I needed to find out what human trafficking is. Rest assured, human trafficking is a crime under U.S. law. According to the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, “severe forms of trafficking in persons” are defined as:
- Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, coercion or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under 18.
- The recruitment, transportation, harboring, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion, for the purpose of subjecting that person to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
Our blog, Leaders for Integrity, will be doing more in the future to shed light on this human slavery. I have found and have become involved in the Coalition to Abolish Human Trafficking in the Inland Northwest, which is designed to share information among organizations working on this issue. I’m also learning more about the Inland Northwest Task Force on Human Trafficking, which connects law enforcement and government agencies to focus on the problem. I hope our readers will consider becoming involved.
Finally, I think it’s important for everyone to be informed of the National Human Trafficking Hotline which is 1-888-373-7888. To be more informed on the hotline go to http://www.PolarisProject.org.
In future blogs we will discuss how to recognize if someone is being trafficked and other sources of help to fight this tragedy in our communities.