Western Slope residences need to act on human trafficking | AspenTimes.com

Western Slope residences need to act on human trafficking

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This multi-billion-dollar industry proliferates largely due to ignorance and policies that allow it to flourish.

There are many misperceptions about what constitutes human trafficking. This is due in large part to the images that Hollywood and other forms of popular culture have created. There are misleading stereotypes that include certain ethnic groups being the perpetrators and also certain demographics being the victims.

According to the Polaris Project, statistically, a trafficker can be from any ethnic group and his or her victims can also be both from the U.S. as well as from another country.

But one thing we should be aware of during this month and all year round: victims of HT are frequently those people who are marginalized due to various factors including poverty, having been involved in child protective services, being part of a marginalized group.

Traffickers are constantly changing their methods. They use ignorance about their crime to their advantage. That is why we at our local anti-human trafficking initiative, Western Slope Against Trafficking, and the Colorado Human Trafficking Council urge community members to get trained to recognize human trafficking and support efforts to remove conditions that contribute to the growth of this crime.

The exploitation of human beings for sex and labor trafficking has increased with the vulnerabilities created by displacement due to climate change and civil strife around the world. Lack of affordable housing also contributes to susceptibility to victimization.

As consumers, we owe it to the individuals that are being exploited by disreputable employers to know the working conditions of those who make the products we buy and the foods we eat.

Western Slope Against Trafficking is hosting events around the Western Slope. Go to WesternSlopeAgainstTrafficking.com to find out more and to request a training. Or go to Polaris for their online training at PolarisProject.org/training.

Thomas Acker

Grand Junction