Sex trafficking, especially the sex trafficking of minors, has gained a lot of attention in recent months, and rightly so. This reprehensible crime against the most vulnerable members of our society must be stopped, and prevented from occurring in the future. Yet, there is another form of human trafficking that may be occurring in our midst, and it too is reprehensible. It too must be stopped.
This other form of human trafficking harkens back to the earlier days of our nation, when people became property and were forced to work for their masters. Legalized slavery in the United States stands as a blight that spanned nearly one hundred years of our history. Slavery was egregious and deplorable then, and it is egregious and deplorable today. Slavery is now illegal, but there is evidence that it is happening in South Dakota today.
Unlike sex trafficking victims, labor trafficking victims are usually immigrants, and they are often men. This creates a different set of challenges to helping them gain their freedom and restore their lives.
South Dakota currently has very few resources in place to help men, or immigrants, in a crisis situation. These people may not speak our language, and they may not understand our culture or legal system. They are victims of a dehumanizing and often brutal crime, and they need help.
They need emergency shelter, and the basic necessities. They need help to navigate the legal system, and they may need help with the language. They need caring people to come alongside them to encourage them, and to help them get on the path to a healthier and safer life. They need a reason to hope.
The Human Rights Division of the Family Heritage Alliance is working to identify the needs of all human trafficking victims in the state, and helping to find ways to meet those needs.
If you are interested in providing services to victims of human trafficking, or if you have any questions or comments, please contact:
Director of the Human Rights Division of the Family Heritage Alliance at: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Tess Franzen