January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness and encourage people to sound the alarm if they see anything suspicious. Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world, and it happens everywhere. That includes in Alabama.
”If someone is being victimized in certain ways, we can see it,” said Katie Beth McCarthy, Executive Director of One Place Family Justice Center. “But with human trafficking, you can’t, and I think that that is the most dangerous aspect of human trafficking. That’s the scariest part is that we don’t always see it and the perpetrators of human trafficking, they are very adept at being able to hide it to make it a secret.”
Human trafficking can occur in a number of settings, and the trafficker is not always a stranger to the victim.
“One of the myths is that it’s always a stranger or that it’s always someone that’s unknown to the victim,” McCarthy explained. “However, human trafficking frequently occurs within relationships, intimate partner relationships, but also outside of that with familial relationships.”
McCarthy says it’s important for the public to be educated and empowered to know the warning signs. Human trafficking includes sex and labor trafficking. Traffickers gain control of their victims through coercion, force or fraud.
“They seem kind of timid or submissive in some way. They seem to be manipulated by someone that is in a close proximity to them. That’s one thing about human trafficking is that the victims are not often allowed to be on their own,” said McCarthy.
If you see indicators of potential human trafficking contact law enforcement immediately.
“Human traffickers are very violent people, and so you do not want to engage and then therefore put yourself at risk, obviously put the victim at further risk or to put at risk the people that are in the vicinity,” McCarthy explained.
Over 70% of human trafficking victims are female. It is important to note men can be victims of human trafficking, too. Additionally, about 1 in 5 human trafficking victims, or around 20%, are children.
To get help or report a tip, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. You can also text HELP to BeFree (233733).
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