To the Editor:
In 2014, President Barack Obama proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Although many assume that slavery no longer exists, there are more slaves today than at any other time in history. Human traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits by using force, fraud or coercion to trap people for commercial sex or labor.
In 2018, 102 human trafficking cases were reported in Iowa. Seventy-six were sex trafficking cases; 16 were labor trafficking cases; four were both; and six were not specified.
Runaway and homeless youth and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are most vulnerable to traffickers who employ a variety of control tactics, including sexual assault, confiscation of identification and money, and isolation from friends and family to name a few. Traffickers identify and leverage vulnerabilities in order to create dependency. They make promises to impose control. As a result, victims become trapped and fear leaving for many reasons, including psychological trauma, shame, emotional attachment or physical threats to themselves or their family’s safety.
Recognizing potential red flags and knowing the indicators of human trafficking are key steps in identifying more victims and helping them find the assistance they need. If you suspect someone could be a victim, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Or text HELP to: BeFree (233733).
For more information or to join the Sisters of St. Francisca Anti-Trafficking Committee, visit: www.clintonfranciscans.com.
Community Outreach Director
Franciscan Peace Center, Clinton