SHREVEPORT La. -- January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, with today named National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Day by 2010 presidential proclamation.
Northwest Louisiana is home to a number of nonprofit organizations that serve victims of human trafficking. One is the FREE Coalition to End Human Trafficking in Louisiana, and its director, Laurie Mcgehee, said the day is significant.
“Just take a moment to realize that trafficking is an ongoing problem. It hasn't ended in our society,” said McGehee. “And in fact, it seems to be increasing getting worse during this pandemic. So we want to take a moment today, and remember victims and survivors and make sure that we honor them and support them.”
Another organization doing its part to stamp out human trafficking is the Purchased: Not For Sale ministry. Founder Cassie Hammett agrees that the problem has increased during the pandemic. She said one of the reasons might be due to the pandemic allowing trafficking to fly under the radar.
“When you go a long period of time without a lot of arrests happening, the volume is going to grow because word spreads that it's easier to get away with it right now,” said Hammett. “And so that translates into what appears to be a growing problem.”
Hammett said not only has human trafficking become more prevalent, it has also become more severe for victims.
“A lot of the victims of trafficking on the adult side that we've encountered this year are coming out of much stronger trafficking situations. Maybe they've been held captive and held in bondage. Several of them we have found hiding in different places around town. The abuse has been higher,” said Hammett. “We've seen an increase in the level of mental health issues of women coming into our program. And I think all of that is tied to the circumstances of 2020.”
KTBS will run several stories on human trafficking throughout January to bring awareness to the issue. If you are in a trafficking situation and need help, or think someone you know might be, reach out to one of the following organizations. They all work together to stop human trafficking in our area.
Purchased: Not For Sale - http://thehubministry.org/purchased/ ; 24 hour hotline – 318-230-7482
FREE Coalition to End Human Trafficking in LA - https://www.facebook.com/FreeNWLA/
The Gingerbread House – Bossier/Caddo Children’s Advocacy Center - https://www.gingerbreadhousecac.org/