A group of panelists chosen by Eastern Michigan University’s Women’s Resource Center said human trafficking is a growing problem across the nation at a discussion Tuesday in the Student Center.
Cara Rose is a special agent for Homeland Security Investigations and a member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force. She said the cases of human trafficking are increasing steadily.
“We are seeing a lot more instances of trafficking victims for labor or sex. The majority are sexual cases,” she said. “There is not a lot of awareness surrounding this topic, and this includes law enforcement.”
Josie Khazouz is a senior at Stevenson High School in Livonia. She was a lecturer on the panel and said human trafficking is not only a global problem but also a serious national issue.
“More than 100,000 American youth enter into prostitution every year,” she said. “I became concerned because these are my peers that are the victims, and I can support them by letting others know that trafficking is happening.”
Panel member Danielle Hodgson raised over $10,000 to date for human trafficking awareness through her Hope for Freedom Walk. She has also visited Cambodia and Thailand to help the victims of human trafficking through missionary work.
“It’s hard to believe there are more slaves today than in the trans-Atlantic slave trade era,” she said.
Rose said many are trafficked into the U.S. under false pretenses, such as being promised a better life or opportunities to receive an education.
“Then they are often threatened, lied to, beaten and then exploited sexually,” she said.
The panel also said some prostitution falls under the umbrella of human trafficking.
EMU senior Kim Munzinger is a Marine Corps veteran and was an instructor in the Marines who specialized in human trafficking. She said human trafficking should be a huge concern for our nation.
“Even federal employees are involved with prostitution scandals. If they get away with it, how does that make the general population feel about the topic?” she said.
EMU sophomore Jeremy Sheppard said he wanted to attend the event to learn about how to notice if trafficking was occurring locally.
“I feel informed and now capable to conduct further research on my own,” he said.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and the Women’s Resource Center has more events planned.
Advocacy Day: Meet the Movement is Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Student Center Ballroom A.
It is a chance to learn about different organizations across the country dedicated to stopping human trafficking.
The film “Half the Sky” will be shown Tuesday in the Student Center auditorium at 6:30 p.m. The film addresses the changes needed to end the oppression of girls and women worldwide.
The human trafficking national hotline is 1-888-373-7888, and information can be given anonymously.
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