This is More Common in Tri-Cities, and Washington, Than You Think
Today is one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of days marked on the calendar for us to make a note. Many of these days are to celebrate certain foods, items, or inventions. Some, like today, are meant to raise awareness about an issue that is arguably the biggest issue you don't hear enough about... today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Human trafficking is slavery, and worse. Human Trafficking impacts every State and every community in North America. in 2003, Washington State became the first to pass a law criminalizing human trafficking and have only toughened the laws since.
Even with some of the, if not the, toughest laws meant to dissuade human trafficking, Washington State is, according to the Office of State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a "hotbed" for human traffickers. That initial law in 2003 established the Washington State Task Force Against the Trafficking of Persons under the State Department of Commerce.
Why is This Such a Big Problem?
It driven by money...plain and simple. Whether it is for Labor or for Sex, Human trafficking is big business. It is one reason why so many have called for tightening security at the southern border. Sharing a border with Canada makes Washington state prime ground for traffickers. Add to that our need for agricultural workers and the number of ports around the State, and you have all the pieces that those engaged in the movement of humans can use. The National Human Trafficking Hotline has data up to 2021 for the number of reports and cases in Washington State.
Who are most affected?
Over 8,000 of the nearly 11,000 cases reported to The National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2021 involved women. That's roughly 8 times the amount of women to men targeted by human traffickers. While activist organizations and public safety entities continue to raise awareness, more needs to be done to impact the practice. Laws need to be strengthened and enforced to truly make a dent in human trafficking in and through our State and Nation. Until that happens... we will continue to have plenty of awareness with action still playing catch up.
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Gallery Credit: Rachel Cavanaugh