Advocates say the fight against human trafficking is progressing, but more work is ahead
For Kathy Wilson, she is currently living a dream. That dream is to end human trafficking. Wilson is the Chairperson of the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force, an organization formed in 2015 to raise awareness about human trafficking. Although the month of January is human trafficking awareness month, she and others feel that people need to be aware of it each day.
Wilson calls human trafficking a 'monster.'
"Our children across this country are being affected by this," Wilson said. "The demand for human trafficking is just unbelievable."
She said since the task force was created, the county has seen three cases of human trafficking. This month, she sees some hope in the fight as Shared Hope International, an organization aimed at ending sex trafficking, which falls under the human trafficking banner, released state report cards for 2018. For 2018, Alabama received an A, which was an increase from 2017's grade of a B. When the organization started the report cards in 2011, Alabama received a D.
Carolyn Potter is the Executive Director of the WellHouse, an organization that helps rescue and restore victims of human trafficking. In her work, she sees survivors each day that are working to overcome troubles in their life as a result of trafficking. She and Wilson feel that Alabama is progressing, but more work needs to be done in the fight against human trafficking.
"We need to address the issues of childhood sexual abuse that causes a victim to become vulnerable to trafficking, and we need to address the issue of demand," Potter said. "Make it really hard on the people who think it is OK to buy another human being, and that needs to be taken care of in our state."
If you know someone who may be the victim of human trafficking, you are urged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888
"The longer we hesitate about addressing the issue, the more it is going to grow. It is already difficult to wrap our arms around what is going on in Alabama, as well as nationally because it is a hidden crime. We need to tackle it while we can and while it is in reach."