Speaker: Human trafficking can happen anywhere

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 11, 2018

By Maggie Blackwell
For the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — How many times can you sell a drug? The crowd calls back, “One!”

How many times can you sell a woman? The crowd calls back, “Over and over!”

It’s easy to think human trafficking happens in other, faraway places. Just two weeks ago a man was arrested here in Salisbury for trafficking, rape, kidnapping and sexual assault. Police discovered he had nine arrest warrants in Davie County.

A local social worker at the Department of Social Services recently counseled a woman dealing with PTSD from having been trafficked.

About 40 local folks attended a Human Trafficking Forum on Saturday in Stanback Auditorium at the Rowan Public Library. The forum was presented by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Salisbury Alumnae Chapter.

Deltas have five “thrusts” to fulfill each year, with International Awareness Issues being one of them, according to Club President Natalie Rivers and committee co-chairs Catherine Rivens and Ella D. Woods. This year’s forum fulfills that thrust and may become an annual event.

Debra Glass Garner from Charlotte presented the program, identifying the types of human trafficking, whom it affects, why victims rarely come forward, indicators, myths and misconceptions, and how you can help.

Trafficking is no less than modern-day slavery, Garner said, involving men, women and children used for profit. It’s an exploitation of human rights. Thousands of human trafficking cases are reported every day, and it happens here in the U.S. and abroad.

There are three types of human trafficking, according to Garner:

  • Sex trafficking, where victims are held against their will to provide sex for money;
  • Forced labor, where victims are forced to work for little or no pay;
  • Domestic servitude, where travel documents are seized and the victim must work as a maid, nanny or other servant.

Victims rarely come forward for help for a number of reasons, including language barriers, fear of the trafficker and fear of the law, she said. If a victim is over 18 years of age, she must prove that she is not willingly working as a prostitute.

Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to lure their victims. They look for people who are susceptible psychologically, financially or emotionally.

Trafficking affects many sectors, Garner said. Women can be lured with the promise of work or education. Children who are orphans or live in poverty or homelessness can be lured. About one of every five victims worldwide is a child. Other children can be sold by parents or others.

Women who are widowed due to war, famine or HIV/AIDS may be forced to sell themselves to support their children or elderly family members. Men are usually trafficked for manual labor.

Here at home we can watch for signs of human trafficking. Garner said victims may disappear or become estranged from family, friends and community. Victims may become fearful, timid or submissive. Young people with gifts they obviously cannot afford may be in contact with a trafficker who is attempting to lure them.

Victims can be any age, gender, race or immigration status, and live in cities, suburbs or rural areas, she said. Traffickers relentlessly canvass ways to take advantage of people who find themselves in circumstances of extreme adversity, violence, discrimination, economic straits or dependence. Communities that experience these hardships are especially vulnerable to human trafficking.

Lilypad Haven is an organization based in Charlotte that provides a home for victims to recover. Salisbury has a local home sponsored by Haven Lutheran Church and St. John’s Lutheran Church.

There are several ways you can help. You can donate supplies or volunteer for Lilypad Haven. You can mentor at-risk children. Most importantly, report cases of human trafficking.

For more information please see www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign

For more information on Lilypad Haven, see lilypad-haven.org

If you see known trafficking taking place, call 911.

If you see suspicious activity, call 1-800-DHS-2-ICE.

If you are a victim of human trafficking,

text this easy number for help: 233-733  [BEFREE]