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Kalamazoo County. In November, the YWCA Kalamazoo announced plans to open the first and only shelter for victims of labor and sex trafficking in Michigan, as well as provide increased comprehensive services to all survivors, after receiving a grant from the U. A local campaign aimed at helping to stop trafficking in hotels was led by the Congregation of St.

Joseph, which put labels on bars of soap and Q-tips used in hotel rooms. Labor trafficking occurs in sweatshops, hotels, restaurants and factories, in domestic and custodial services, construction, agriculture and tourism.

Victims are not paid for their work, and often their proof of identity is taken from them so they are forced to stay with the trafficker. According to Polaris, an organization leading the global fight to eradicate trafficking, there were nearly 26, calls in to its National Human Trafficking Resource Center, with 7, known cases of trafficking.

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Then the traffickers take any money the victims earn and sometimes charge exorbitant interest rates so that the workers are trapped and cannot escape. Traffickers also take advantage of kids hooked on drugs or alcohol who need the money to keep up their habit. Last year Fuller created the Victim Services Unit, a group of trained volunteers who help victims and survivors work through the trauma prompted by a crisis or crime against them.

They usually lack any personal identification. She also contacted churches and several religious organizations including The Arka crisis intervention center for youth run by Youth for Christ; the Congregation of St. Joseph; and the Kalamazoo Deacons Conference. The U. State Department estimates thattopeople are trafficked internationally each year, with 14, to 17, trafficked into the U.

Of these, an estimated 50 percent are minors and an estimated 80 percent are women and girls. Encore Magazine is published 12 times a year. Even so, there seems to be some reluctance to address this issue in the schools, says Morley LaCroix.


A trafficker entices victims with bribes and promises and later threatens them through coercion or violence to keep them doing what the trafficker wants. In addition, some of the workers who come to Michigan each year to pick crops may very well be the victims of trafficking, Fuller says. At least 50 percent of the people trafficked are likely to be children, she says.

Sara Morley LaCroix. Istock photography. View in the magazine. Where are they?

Last year volunteers provided training in 10 health education classes at Portage Northern High School, one social justice class at Kalamazoo Central High School and two dance classes at Education for the Arts, a program that serves nine school districts in Kalamazoo County.

There are two types of trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Of these cases, 73 percent involved sex trafficking, 14 percent labor trafficking, 3.

Human trafficking

Many people believe that human trafficking occurs only in poor countries, but it occurs throughout the United States, including here in Southwest Michigan, according to local law enforcement officials. In Mayanother man was charged with forcing four women into prostitution out of a hotel in Oshtemo Township to pay off their drug debts.

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Trafficked children are usually runaways and are frequently picked up by traffickers within 24 to 48 hours of leaving home. Last Name. She says restaurants are often among the places where trafficked immigrant workers go to work eight- to hour days. We also know that vulnerable young people meet traffickers on the internet through social media.

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In October, a year old girl in Battle Creek was rescued by police after being held against her will by two men who sexually assaulted her and forced her to have sex with other men for money. Know what to look for Employees of hotels, airlines and airports are also learning how to spot victims.

Sex trafficking occurs in street prostitution, pornography and escort services and in massage parlors, brothels and strip clubs. Address. Most are 12 to 13 years old, says Moe who is not related to Angela Moe. They the traffickers may start a relationship with online chats on the internet, or a youngster who is already being trafficked goes into schools and looks for recruits.

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It also reports that New York City alone has 3, minors for sale. Someone may need your help to be freed from this horrendous problem. These volunteers go to a crime scene with officers and set up counseling and conduct a needs assessment, says Fuller. She believes that kids who know the consequences of trafficking and what to do when strangers approach them are going to be safer than those who remain ignorant of it.

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About Publisher Encore Publications, Inc. Stay up to date First Name. Olga Bonfiglio. Those most at risk for sexual assault are people ages 10 to 22, while younger children are more at risk for all forms of child maltreatment, she says. Kalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition.

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The labels offered help and a hotline to those who may be trafficked. In fact, 21 public acts deed to help human trafficking victims were ed into Michigan law in and took effect in January The FBI keeps statistics on all crime in the United States, but its human trafficking statistics are not very accurate because records have not been consistently kept over the long term, says Western Michigan University sociologist Dr.

Nonetheless, estimates by various national and international agencies illustrate the seriousness of the problem. Volunteers speak to teachers, counselors and staff, offering free prevention training for students. Then the trafficker demands payment for these services, money kids do not usually have.

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Because many victims are heavily drugged to perform the acts they are forced to perform, the volunteers may also take them to addiction specialists who can help them recover. The Kalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition is going beyond citizen advocacy in Lansing to bring greater awareness and training programs to people in the community, including those in public schools. Among them are health care workers at Borgess Medical Center, where Sister Sue McCrery, director of spiritual care, has conducted training on the topic.

Traffickers go into poor areas in Mexico, for example, and arrange for buslo of migrant workers to be taken to U. They promise these workers jobs, food, housing and transportation but later tell them they have to pay for these services.

The internet provides a whole other avenue for exploiting people across the world in complex networks. In Decembera man from Kalamazoo was convicted of transporting women from Michigan down to Kentucky to work as prostitutes during the Kentucky Derby.

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Morley LaCroix researched the issue, attended conferences, shared ideas with advocates in other communities and met survivors. The Michigan State Police are also trained to watch for s of human trafficking when they make legitimate vehicle stops for violations like a broken taillight or speeding, says McCrery.


Department of Justice estimates thatAmerican children are at risk to be trafficked and that the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 years old. Traffickers regard human beings as a huge commodity to sell. Publisher Encore Publications, Inc. View Current Contributors.

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One way of detecting victims, she says, is by asking them where they live or if they feel safe at home. Meanwhile, many professionals in the Kalamazoo area are being trained to recognize the s of trafficking. Cedar St. Search form. Labor trafficking is difficult to pin down because law enforcement has to respond to a complaint or discover such trafficking through an investigation before it can apprehend traffickers, says Fuller.

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All Rights Reserved. In this way, trafficking is considered modern-day slavery.

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Trafficking can happen to anybody, and we have to make it stop happening. There are now laws in Michigan mandating that certain professionals be trained to recognize s of trafficking and report it to law enforcement. It Happens Here. They then may connect victims with a safe house, a church or even help them find a job through Michigan Works. Traffickers see vulnerable children, approach them, buy them a meal, ask about their story and give them a place to stay, usually at a hotel, he says. They tend to be very trusting of adults and can be tricked, taken advantage of and easily restrained.

The CIA estimates that 40, to 50, people are trafficked throughout the United States each year. To pay off the debt, traffickers make them perform sex or labor.