Human trafficking expert visits Holt

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By Macaulie Fritz
Holt Journal staff writer

Taken 2 was probably one of the most anticipated movies of the fall. Many people were fans of the movie’s prequel, Taken, and expected it to be just as good or better.

Many people know Taken as an action movie where a father saves his daughter from foreign kidnappers. What people do not know is that the kidnapping becomes human trafficking.

Human trafficking is the exploitation of human beings for labor or in most cases for women and girls, sex. Most people who have heard about human trafficking know that this occurs in areas such as Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. What many people do not know is that human trafficking occurs right here in the United States, in our cities and in our towns.

On Oct. 9, the women of the Holt United Methodist Church hosted Jane P. White, who is the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force developer. The Task Force represents some 90 agencies at the federal, state and local levels according to Sharon Smith the co-chair of the United Methodist Women. White speaks all around Michigan because “Michigan has become a transit destination for these traffickers. That means we have people coming in, and people going out.”

Fifty percent of human trafficking is sexual. “It’s the worst at truck stops,” an elderly woman named Louann Jeffries said. “It happens here where women are taken, and women from other countries are brought here.” These women are usually coerced by being told they could be models, but they are also psychologically forced to comply because the people who take them threaten their families.

The other form of human trafficking is usually for cheap labor. People believe they are getting a better opportunity and then they find themselves in conditions not any better than they were before. Child labor is a huge form of human trafficking. According to White, Target used to buy silver that was mined by children. Also according to White, Hershey’s still gets its cocoa from companies that enforce child labor.

Human trafficking occurs in many forms and in many areas of the world. There are many  stories of people affected by human trafficking. Help raise awareness. If you see what you believe to be a form of human trafficking, call the hotline (where you can remain anonymous) 888-373-7888 or join the fight against trafficking with the Polaris Project.

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