National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month - JANUARY 2017
Through Presidential Proclamation, Barack Obama recognized January 2017 as NATIONAL SLAVERY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING PREVENTION MONTH. In recognition of this month, the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont and the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Vermont join together to shine a light on the modern-day slavery known as human trafficking, a crisis facing the nation and Vermont.
Human Trafficking is the act of compelling a person by force, fraud, or coercion to provide labor or a commercial sex act. Coercion may be subtle and insidious, and traffickers often threaten serious physical and emotional harm. Human trafficking is a global, national and local problem. Vermont is not immune to this crisis. Drug addicts and other vulnerable people such as children, the disabled, and the undocumented are specifically targeted and recruited by traffickers for exploitation.
Vermont’s United States Attorney, Eric Miller, emphasized the link between human trafficking and the heroin scourge in Vermont, stating, “Human trafficking continues to be one of the most dangerous, but least understood, aspects of the heroin trade in Vermont. Drug dealers coerce addicts to perform commercial sex acts for the benefit of the dealers’ illegal organizations, deliberately perpetuating the victims’ addiction in order to exploit them for commercial gain. Trafficking in people compounds the damage that trafficking in heroin has caused our state. Our response to that epidemic must continue to bring the problem of human trafficking out of the shadows, get trafficking survivors the help and services they need, and prosecute the traffickers who prey on some of our most vulnerable Vermonters.”
Vermont’s Attorney General, T.J. Donovan, added, “We have seen, right here in Vermont, how human trafficking destroys lives. The physical and emotional scar survivors carry is immense. The only way to effectively combat this crime and to help those that have been victimized is for us, as a community, to bring this hidden scourge out in the open. As citizens we have a duty to be informed and to take action. That action may be contacting law enforcement with a concern, or reaching out to someone that you suspect may be being exploited. Remaining silent is no longer an option.”
Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, regardless of race, age, gender, nationality, socio-economic status, or sexual orientation. Trafficking victims are often manipulated via false promises concerning relationships, employment, lifestyle, or drug availability, and victims are lured into situations where they are controlled by the trafficker. Human trafficking does not necessarily occur behind closed doors. In many cases, the trafficker’s control over the victim is so profound that the trafficker can control the victim even when he or she is out in the community, interacting with people on a daily basis.
Perpetrators of human trafficking crimes also come from all walks of life, and they can be family members, acquaintances, or strangers to their victims. They may act alone or as part of an organized effort; their main motive is to make a profit. The damage done by human trafficking is a violation of the victim’s basic human rights.
Vermont’s Human Trafficking Task Force brings together federal, state, and local law enforcement; social services; state agencies; and community based organizations to coordinate efforts to combat this crime and provide help to victims. The Vermont Human Trafficking Task Force continues to prioritize training and awareness for professionals and community members. Anyone interested in such a training or awareness event should contact the Vermont U.S. Attorney’s Office at (802) 951-6725.
To make a report to law enforcement, call The Vermont Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-98HUMAN (1-888-984-8626).
If you become aware of an instance of human trafficking and would like to speak with a trained specialist who can help assess the situation and provide information and referrals, call: 211.
Information regarding the human trafficking of a youth (under the age of 18) should be reported to the Department for Children and Families by calling Vermont Centralized Intake: 1-(800) 649-5285.