A Munith woman convicted of running a sex trafficking ring that employed several underage girls is going to prison.
A Kentwood woman has been charged with offering a teenaged girl for sex at a Grand Rapids hotel.
When the movie “Taken” was released, it gave audiences a scenario to link with their fear of human trafficking. This scenario has come to mind for plenty of people as the way human trafficking works: being dragged out of a home or off the streets into a van by a kidnapper. While it can’t be said for all cases of human trafficking, that isn’t how it generally takes place.
Shining a Light on Human Trafficking
We continue to see headlines about human trafficking cases in Michigan, most recently another pair of suspects were charged in Port Huron earlier this month. It’s a real issue in Michigan, with data showing our state has the second highest rate of human trafficking, only behind Nevada.
While we don’t have year-end data yet from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the latest numbers show that in Michigan:
There have been 470 calls from Michigan to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
There have been 136 reported cases in Michigan (January-June of this year). For perspective in 2016 there were 133 for that same time period.
109 of the reported cases were sex trafficking cases.
95 of the reported victims were adults, 47 were minors.
The reported cases were called in by a community member, a survivor, the family of a survivor, a representative from a nonprofit organization or a medical professional.
However, these numbers may not show the complete picture here in Michigan. As Jane White, director of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force told The Detroit News, there’s no comprehensive data collection for this issue, it’s hard to track and therefore hard to really know how many people are being affected by this hidden industry.
We continue to see more action around the state aimed at helping survivors.
MLive reports that next month the YWCA Human Trafficking Shelter is opening in Kalamazoo.
“In response to the growing needs of our community, we launched the only comprehensive services for human trafficking survivors in the area,” Grace Lubwama, CEO, YWCA Kalamazoo told MLive.
YWCA Kalamazoo states that it provides services for survivors of sex and labor trafficking all of genders, which includes offering shelter, therapeutic services, legal advocacy and more.
In Southeast Michigan, the Sanctum House, which is supported in part by CMF member the A.A. Van Elslander Foundation, was recently highlighted by the Detroit Free Press for its work in helping female trafficking survivors.
“I started to learn, and I joined task forces and I went to conferences and I did all these different things so I could become educated, see what was missing and do the best I could do,” Edee Franklin of the Sanctum House told the newspaper. “I came to find out there are less than 20 beds around the state of Michigan for long-term treatment of survivors of human trafficking. There’s less than 500 beds in the country.”
Earlier this year, a new requirement was put into place for medical professionals to receive educational training about this public health issue and hopefully identify and help survivors. Michigan State University’s College of Nursing recently shared that 138 individuals have completed their online course since the requirement went into effect.
Work continues around the state to get more people trained and educated about this issue, so they may detect and respond to these situations and help survivors.
Connect with the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force.
–Council of Michigan Foundations