By Tara Adamcyzk, Advertising Manager
On April 8, 2015 Senator Shelley Moore Capito hosted a Summit on Human Trafficking on West Liberty’s campus.
Over 50 people including students, professors, staff, Domestic violence shelters, and the FBI, flooded the Boyle Conference Room where six speakers gave short presentations on they many different criminal and social aspects of human trafficking.
Speakers included: Tara Tighe, U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of West Virginia, Anna Borsick a human trafficking survivor, Brain Morris, Department of Homeland Security, ICE Division, Dr. Jennifer Storer, Ph.D., Supervised Psychologist, KVC West Virginia, Sylvia Senften, Professor of Social Work at WLU, and Lieutenant Daniel Swiger, West Virginia State Police, Crimes Against Children Unit.
Human Trafficking can be described as modern day slavery. It involves the use of force, fraud, and coercion to get some type of labor or commercial sex act. Human trafficking brings in $150 billion annually and in the cases reported there are about 21 million victims of forced labor around the world.
Victims are often taken from their homes with false promises of well-paying jobs; instead they are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude, and other types of forced labor. “The problem with human trafficking is that there is more money in it than illegal gun or drug sales. You can sell a person multiple times, whereas with drugs and other items that can only be sold once. It also does not require traffickers to move or transport anything because it happens everywhere,” said Tighe.
It is hard to tell when someone is being trafficked because they can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Often times, their “pimps” make them feel safe and they become victims to Stockholm Syndrome where they believe they are not actually victims. Other times the victims are too afraid to get to safety because their “pimps” have beaten them or when they go to police they are not taken to safety but rather given back to their “pimps”. “There was one time I got arrested and at the police station I was hoping that I would be taken to safety and back to my family. Instead they called my pimp and he came and got me. It was at that moment I felt alone,” said Borsick.
Homeland Security and the FBI work together to prevent human trafficking, however in order to find who is be trafficked and who is making them do it, involves the community. “The Community is eyes and ears of law enforcement. However, we need to have the communities involvement in order to gain peoples trust, in order for them to feel they can tell you something,” said Swiger.
Communities need to work together in order to decrease the amount of people being trafficked. Knowing indicators are the first step. Victims are often scared, they show signs of physical or sexual abuse, are they being deprived of life necessities, do they try to avoid talking to people, and do they have little to no personal belongings.
The internet also plays a huge part in human trafficking. Victims are either being found in chat groups and convinced to meet with traffickers or they are being trafficked through sites such as backpage.com and Craigslists. This opens up the market for trafficking because they are a just a click and a phone call away. There is no need to send them to the street and hope that someone drives by looking for sex.
“Human trafficking is becoming a huge problem in the area. Ohio is ranked number four on the human trafficking list. We recently went to a training on how to handle these victims when they come in because they are often handled differently then most domestic violence cases,” said Jodi Scheetz, executive director of ALIVE in Steubenville, OH.
There are laws passed to bring human trafficking to light, including Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act, Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Car Act, and Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act.
Human trafficking is a global problem. Contact the National Human Trafficking resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 for confidential help or more information.