Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Raising Awareness of a Hidden Problem

From the Star Tribune:

MINNESOTA, USA- Earlier this month, the problem [of human trafficking] surfaced close to home again when local and federal authorities uncovered a prostitution ring operating out of a Minneapolis massage parlor and a St. Louis Park apartment building. Several Asian women who had been brought into the United States illegally were involved, and a Chinese national was arrested for trafficking. Police say at least a dozen similar operations are scattered throughout the Twin Cities.

Those are examples of this complicated and somewhat hidden crime. However, thanks to the good work of Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) researchers and a state task force on trafficking, better information is being gathered about the problem and how to address it. Based on the data, it's clear that trafficking can be reduced through increased public awareness, improved training for police, health care and other providers, tough laws and expanded victim services.

In 2005, the state Legislature required DPS to staff the 24-member task force and produce annual reports on trafficking. What it has learned so far is that victims of labor and sex trafficking come from all over the state, nation and world. The same conditions of poverty, limited opportunity and alienation apply to victims from the Third World or rural Minnesota.

The study rightly suggests continued examination of the vulnerabilities that put people at risk. Once those are better understood, effective prevention strategies can be developed. Researchers also found that many who might be in a position to help victims aren't aware of the problem. Therefore, the study wisely recommends additional training for law enforcement, clergy and health professionals to help them recognize the signs of human exploitation.

Read the Full article

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