National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month


By Alex Garrison

Slavery has been a major issue throughout the world for centuries. As time has evolved, so has the way that such slavery has been used and seen. Human trafficking, although not made aware to many as a form of slavery, is that. 
Human trafficking is known to be one of the most difficult crimes to spot in the world. Because of this, it has become a major issue in today’s society, and although has decreased as the years have gone by, it still is something very current in today’s society. It has become a major issue even here in Raleigh. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, North Carolina ranks eighth on the list of states with the most occurrences of human trafficking.

Due to the dramatic increase in occurrence, human trafficking is an issue that needs to be more addressed throughout society, whether that be in ways of warning and awareness, or trauma and fear.

The hotline states that “Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit [using force, fraud, or coercion]…[and] it is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world.”

In current society, human trafficking can be anything from coercion for sex, labor, sex and labor, and more for any gender and race, and even citizenship. Such crimes can be found in all industries, but in NC, it is mainly hotel/motel or massage/spa business based, aimed towards adult females.

With all the notice that human trafficking has had in the past years, along with recent alleged trafficking of a minor in South Raleigh (The News & Observer), January was declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This movement was made not just in efforts to acknowledge those affected, but to also bring awareness, condemn the act, and to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

According to the U.S. Department of State, “The act provides the tools to combat trafficking in persons both worldwide and domestically [through the establishment of the State Department’s TIP Office and the President’s Interagency Task Force].”

Since the establishment of this act, made initially by President Clinton and continued to be reauthorized by following Presidents, Bush, Obama, and Trump, trafficking has received much more awareness in society, and especially in schools, through the use of many different awareness tactics. These include resources such as phone hotlines, programs, rehabilitation centers, treatment facilities, and panels that help those affected spread more awareness and share their experience. Schools around the country are even taking advantage of these resources in order to attempt to inform and prevent their students from like situations.

In the Fall semester of 2019, William Peace University offered a Special Topics course for upper-class Criminal Justice and Political Science majors, strictly on the issue of Human Trafficking. The goal of the university in teaching such information was to not only prepare their students who wish to pursue careers in the criminal justice system, but to also make them aware of the large and continually increasing rise of Human Trafficking in the Raleigh area, also all around the world, and how to spot it.

“I believe the first step to helping with the issue of human trafficking is becoming educated on the subject,” said senior Criminal Justice major, Ma’Kayla Ropchan. “It often goes unreported and unnoticed because people don’t know what to look for.”

Human trafficking is an issue that not only affects those being victimized but also their family and friends who have to witness or go through the trauma with them. The violence, fear, manipulation, and trauma that comes with this is something that no one should ever have to go through. The most traumatic part is the fact that those affected, are involved for longer spans of time.

“It never hurts to speak up, tell the proper authorities, when you believe you see something that looks like human trafficking,” said Ropchan.

For help or victim support involving Human Trafficking contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline. All information or concerns shared will be anonymous.
Please speak up and help! You don’t know how many lives you will be saving.

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