Michigan ranks in top 10 states for human trafficking

Michigan ranks in top 10 states for human trafficking
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 5:58 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan is ranked in the 10 top states for human trafficking. The National Human Trafficking Hotline said there were 295 cases reported in the state last year.

Wednesday, survivors, and advocates told lawmakers they want to see more done to stop it.

“I just wanted to survive,” said Rita O’Brien. “I was raped and sexually abused from the age of 3 to 13. I was sexually attacked at knifepoint by my father and other men in a secret society in the cult church. I thought it was normal. Like a setting on the drier that doesn’t exist anymore.”

Now, she wants state lawmakers to do more to help protect others who might be in a similar situation.

“I would love Michigan to be the state that traffickers run from,” said O’Brien. “Make it mandatory to have law enforcement trained and to have age-appropriate human trafficking in every school, home school, private school, catholic school, whatever, education everywhere.”

She also wants to see more money go toward programs to help get trafficking survivors back on their feet. This is something many agencies, like YWCA Kalamazoo, are trying to expand.

“To help stabilize their lives and to prioritize where to start and regain a sense of security,” said Jessica Glynn, YWCA Kalamazoo senior director of law and policy.

Glynn asked lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday to expand and look at all types of trafficking, not just those trafficked for sex.

“Very few cases involving labor trafficking ever, ever see the light of day. they’re not investigated, and they are not prosecuted. That is because we’ve remained solely focused on sex trafficking,” said Glynn.

This week, the Michigan State Police is also showing drivers, especially truckers, the signs of human trafficking so they can report it when they see it.

Related: Michigan State Police teaming up with other states to help fight human trafficking

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