Human trafficking is the third largest criminal industry. Trafficking includes sexual as well as labor trafficking. Michigan had the first reported case of trafficking.
The Director and Founder of the Michigan Human Trafficking task force, Jane White, is in Marquette. This evening she was hosted by the Zonta Club. Recently appointed to Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking by Attorney General, Bill Scheutte, she is here to raise awareness that trafficking can happen to anyone at any time.
“Up here in the Upper Peninsula people want to believe that we are living in a safe zone. However, we are vulnerable because we are a border state to Canada, we are close to Duluth, there is a lot of trafficking going on there. Then we have the Mackinaw bridge that connects us to the lower Peninsula. We know that it comes here, it has gone through here and I don’t think we are going to be exempt from it,” said Kelly Laakso, Sexual Assault Advocate, Women’s Center.
Experts say movies paint an untrue picture of what trafficking is. 50 percent are kids, being used in labor trafficking and they are as young as three years old. Women are trafficked 80 percent of the time and even men are trafficked.
“Collaboration, no one person or entity can execute and rescue victims by themselves. Not law enforcement, judicial services, service providers, it’s the community sitting down and saying what do we need to do? What beds are available? what shelter? what language translation do we have?,” said Jane White, Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force Director.
If you would like to hear more about what you can do to keep safe, recognize a trafficking victim or get involved, you can hear Jane speak tomorrow at NMU, Mead Auditorum at 7 P. M. Wednesday she will be at the Women’s Center on Front St. at 11 A. M. for an open house. You can always call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at (888) 373- 7888, for more information or assistance.