(KLFY) – Governor John Bel Edwards has declared January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month in Louisiana. This comes as nearly 1,000 victims of human trafficking victims were reported in the state in 2021.
The most common type of human trafficking is sex trafficking, when a child is approached by a stranger or a family member and sold over and over again to engage in sexual acts. The governor’s office said that there are many other types of human trafficking happening right here in Louisiana as well.
“Familial trafficking is something else that we hear about. It’s where family members might take their own children and sell them or use them as sex services or labor services to gain money or wages to support a substance abuse habit or to support their basic needs like rent, food, clothing, and shelter,” Dana Hunter, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Human Trafficking Prevention, said.
She told News 10 that oftentimes, human trafficking is right under our noses. The latest statistics from 2021 show there were 932 victims of human trafficking in communities across Louisiana.
“We’ve heard from victims who have gotten teeth knocked out or beaten with pipes, all manners of objects shoved up private parts,” Hunter added. “We’ve spoken with victims who say, ‘Look, they told me they would kill my grandmother, who I’ve been raised by. They told me they would kill my little brother, and they know what school he’s at.'”
Hunter said that these are only some of the many methods that a pimp or trafficker will use to keep the victim in bondage.
“We’ve heard from victims who said, ‘I couldn’t eat unless I met a quota. sometimes that quota was $5,000.’ One victim shared with us their quota was $10,000 a night. If we can only imagine a victim, one person having to go and do criminal sexual acts and criminal acts to earn $10,000 in one night for someone else,” she said.
She also said that human trafficking awareness is important because traffickers are a clear and present threat.
“They are everywhere. They are in our schools. They are in our schools through other children, through other adults. We encourage everyone if you feel like something is not right, nine times out of ten, it is not right,” Hunter said.
If you suspect you or someone else is in immediate danger of a human trafficker, call 911. You can also call the human trafficking hotline for help at 1-888-373-7888 or text ‘BeFree’ to 233733. Louisiana also offers resources here.