LANSING (WWJ) – What is human trafficking?
“If you’ve been to a nail salon, restaurant, hotel, you have likely encountered someone who’s being trafficked,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Following the completion of a report by the Michigan Commission on Human Rights, the state legislature is poised to consider more than a dozen bills aimed at rescuing the victims and prosecuting the traffickers.
“People always tell me, ‘I didn’t know,'” said Theresa Flores, who was once a victim of trafficking in Michigan.
Flores said her parents were unaware she was being terrorized by a group of boys at her Birmingham High School who had obtained nude pictures of her after drugging her.
Bridgette Carr, founder and director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan, has seen hundreds of cases.
“They range from workers at restaurants and farms to young women forced into prostitution,” said Carr.
Most of the victims, according experts, are hiding in plain sight and it’s important to recognize it when we see it.
Conventions and large public events like the North American International Auto show often bring many traffickers to an area, she said.
For the last four years, Flores and a group of volunteers have distributed bars of soap with the phone number for the National Human Trafficking hot line printed on it: 888-373-7888.
What’s the thinking behind the soap strategy? Flores said victims are only left alone when they go to the bathroom, so it’s that’s where the phone number had to be.