COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It’s happening in every state across the country, including South Carolina.
Human Trafficking is a $150 billion industry, according to the International Labour Organization. Many view it as an international crisis, but it’s a big problem in our community, too.
According to Lighthouse for Life, a non-profit organization seeking to take steps to stop sex trafficking, more than 100,000 minors are at risk of being pulled into trafficking in the U.S. every year.
In South Carolina, there were 118 cases of human trafficking reported to the National Human Trafficking hotline in 2017 alone. According to the S.C.A.G’s Human Trafficking Task Force Year-End Report 2017, 41 percent of known trafficking survivors in S.C. were actually trafficked by a family relation.
The Lighthouse for Life says traffickers generally target those who are vulnerable, have low self-esteem, have previously suffered abuse or neglect. A victim can be male or female. The average age of entry into sex trafficking is 12–14, but victims can be younger or older.
Law enforcement officials say because human trafficking often exists alongside other criminal activities, it can be difficult to identify.
The Lighthouse for Life is partnering with agencies and organizations to raise awareness about human trafficking, educate the community about how to confront it and establish a network of support and resources to help the victims.
Lighthouse for Life is holding 3 key events in the Midlands for National Human Trafficking Month:
Jan. 11 - National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Join the South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and members of the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force as we meet to recognize Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The event will be located on the 2nd floor of the South Carolina Statehouse and will begin at 10:30 a.m. The 2018 Annual Report will be released and there will be a discussion of the many highlights.
Jan. 19 – “No More Silence Demonstration”
Richland County Anti Human Trafficking Task Force is sponsoring the “No More Silence Demonstration” from 9:30 am until 1:00 pm. at Soda City in Columbia, SC participants will be handing out flyers with information regarding human trafficking and what to look for/who to contact. Volunteers will be wearing black tape over their mouths to represent survivors and will be wearing all black.
If you would like to volunteer during this event please email Emma Rush, the Education and Awareness Committee Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Jan. 23 – Awareness Event
Lighthouse for Life is sponsoring The Economics of Human Trafficking – In Lexington County
If you are in a human trafficking situation or suspect a human trafficking situation, call local law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Hotline for help and support at 1-888-373-7888.