Kalamazoo targets human trafficking

Federal officials say more than 100,000 women and children fall victim to human traffickers in the U.S. each year. They’re often forced into prostitution or other sex work, or other jobs, against their will. A Kalamazoo woman hopes to make a dent in that modern form of slavery, at least in southwest Michigan.

Sara Morley LaCroix is a real estate agent by day. But last March she founded theKalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition. Morley LaCroix says she started the project after meeting three survivors of human trafficking, including Theresa, who became a victim of traffickers at her high school in Birmingham at the age of 16. Another was Melinda of Muskegon who was exploited by her mother from the age of five until she was in high school.

Human trafficking: Biggest misconception…

It happens across the nation but much of it goes unreported.

In fact, only 4 of every 1,000 human trafficking victims are identified, according to statistics from the University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic.

But that’s just one of the battles facing the Kalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition (KAHTC), an organization formed in May.

Human trafficking is when someone is forced by another person into sex or labor by threats, emotional abuse or physical abuse.

Sara Morley-LaCroix, co-founder of the coalition, says the biggest misconception about human trafficking in America is that it isn’t happening.