The Outer Banks Hotline Stands Against Human Trafficking
Amazing article featured in the OB Sentinel highlighting the efforts of the OB Hotline and other facilitators.
ARTICLE BY MICHELLE WAGNER | SENTINEL STAFF
OBX begins to mobilize against human trafficking
Outer Banks Hotline Executive Director Michael Lewis may not be able to offer hard statistics when it comes to the prevalence of human trafficking in Dare County. But he is sure of one thing.
“We know from some websites that human trafficking does exist on the Outer Banks,” he says. “We haven’t seen huge numbers, but I believe they are out there. We just are not seeing them because they are not being reported. Our community is ideal [for sex trafficking] because it’s so fluid…”
The National Human Trafficking Hotline defines the crime as “a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will.”
Getting a handle on the extent of human trafficking in the area is difficult, a challenge exacerbated by reluctant victims and a largely unaware public. But Lewis’s agency is one of a handful of local organizations beginning not only to acknowledge its presence, but to raise community awareness and provide training and much-needed resources to victims.
In 2016, North Carolina found itself ranked No. 10 in the country in reported human trafficking cases, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. As of June 30, 2017, the state climbed to number eight with a total of 118 cases reported, 81 of those involving commercial sex trafficking.
Among those most targeted are teenagers, runaways, college students, single moms and other vulnerable individuals, according to those with knowledge of the issue.
Experts point to the state’s location along the East Coast and major highways, such as I-95, as key factors that drive those numbers up. North Carolina legislators and officials have targeted human trafficking in the last year by enacting harsher penalties against traffickers, providing training for service providers and increasing awareness campaigns.
Addressing human trafficking locally
Categorised in: News