In the span of a year, dozens of human-trafficking victims are expected to seek shelter at The Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence, Kansas. And soon, the link to help could be a city employee.
A new initiative will train city employees to recognize human trafficking, with the goal of improving the outcomes of the vulnerable youth who are typically victims. Leaders at the Willow Center give a possible scenario of what happens when girls age out of the foster care system, lacking family and resources.
“Let’s say you’re a girl or very young woman, and a man approaches you: ‘Well, I’ll buy you this, I’ll get your nails done, I’ll have your hair done, you’re beautiful’ — all of these things that she has never had before, and she becomes attached to this man,” said Willow Center Executive Director Joan Schultz.
“Then he starts to traffic her, and how is she going to get out, especially if he threatens her with her life?”
Human trafficking is often called a modern form of slavery. With millions of victims, human trafficking is believed to be the third-largest criminal activity in the world, according to the FBI. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to control victims, and crimes include forced labor, domestic servitude and commercial sex trafficking.
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