It’s a hidden crime. In fact, only 4 of every 1,000 human trafficking victims are identified, according to statistics from the University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic.
But that’s just one of the battles facing the Kalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition (KAHTC), an organization formed in May. Sara Morley-LaCroix, co-founder of the coalition, says the biggest misconception about human trafficking in America is that it isn’t happening. “People don’t want to believe that our society is engaging in this type of misbehavior,” Morley-LaCroix said. “They find it unfathomable that we would treat other human beings this way. I think we don’t want to see the ugly truth of what is truly happening around us.” Another problem facing KAHTC, Morley-LaCroix said, is that victims are being treated as criminals in the area of prostitution.
The coalition is working with state legislators on three bills that would help the cause. The first bill would establish “safe harbor laws” in Michigan, which would protect 16- and 17-year-old victims from being prosecuted for prostitution. Another bill would allow trafficking victims to have their records expunged, so “they can move on with their lives,” Morley-LaCroix said. The other bill would increase penalties against traffickers.
KAHTC is also providing training for nursing students at Kalamazoo Valley Community College to recognize signs of human trafficking. The coalition hopes to team up with local law enforcement agencies to help them in detecting trafficking situations. Looking to the future, the group would like to do street outreach to help locate victims of trafficking.
Learn more at Aaron Mueller’s mlive.com article: Human trafficking: Biggest misconception is that it’s not happening locally, says area anti-trafficking advocate.