Look Below the Surface

Poster from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry

 

An 8-year-old girl rides her bike through familiar neighborhood streets, her feet pedaling fast as the ground flashes underneath. She doesn’t notice the car that has been trailing her. It is full of men who were told by her father where and when they could find her. Her father sold her to them. The car pulls over and men grab her, pulling her into the vehicle. The little girl was Elisabeth Corey. When she was growing up in Northern Virginia, she said, her father would sell her to men and brothels for “entertainment.”

Human trafficking survivors like Corey and their support groups are speaking out and working with state legislators to combat the problem of human trafficking in Virginia.

Among all states, Virginia is No. 7 in the most reported cases of human trafficking, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline and the Polaris Project, a group seeking to address the problem. “A lot of international traffic occurs here. We have Dulles, Hampton Roads and a major route on the Eastern corridor with 95,” Delegate David Bulova, D-Fairfax said. “What makes Virginia rich for commerce also makes it easier for traffickers to operate behind the scenes.”

Until recently, another reason has been the lack of strong laws and coordinated law enforcement against human trafficking. But that’s changing as the General Assembly spent the past three sessions strengthening these laws, Sara Pomeroy, founder of the Richmond Justice Initiative, another anti-trafficking group said.

“We have a long way to go before we get rid of human trafficking, but we are ahead of the pack,” Bulova said.

Learn more at Jessica Dahlberg’s Virginia Commonwealth University Capital News Service article: Human Trafficking: Modern-Day Slavery.

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