From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY — In support of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Attorney General Steve Marshall addressed the issue and how it touches lives in Alabama.
Marshall noted the existence of the problem within the state of Alabama and how Alabama interstates provide a corridor for the practice.
“Not only is human trafficking a global tragedy, it is heartbreakingly present in our own state of Alabama,” said Marshall. “Human trafficking is only behind drug trafficking as the second largest criminal industry in the world, with an all-time high of 27 million victims enslaved today. It is hard for us to fathom that such a vile practice as slavery exists in our midst, but we must acknowledge it, be vigilant, and fight it. Right here in Alabama, our interstates — I-20, I-85, I-10 and I-65 — are major routes for human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a practice that employs victims for purposes of commercial sex or forced labor. Often times, traffickers target individuals that are vulnerable and seeking alternatives to their situations. Eventually those exploiting the victims use threats or torture to wear down their victims and make it very difficult for them to seek help.
About one-third of human trafficking victims are runaway children that are victimized within the first two days of leaving home, according to Marshall, and the average age of victims is reported to be 12-years-old.
“I want to remind human traffickers of the promise I made them last year: We are coming after you,” said Marshall. “This year, another promise: We will only become more relentless — until the day we end it.”
“My office is working with the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force in the End It Alabama project to fight this horrific crime,” said Marshall. “I am pleased that we achieved the passage of important legislation last session. Alabama law now provides better protection to our youth, provides prior victims convicted of certain criminal offenses (because they were trafficked) an opportunity to start fresh, and allows our office to not only go after those who commit this horrible crime criminally, but also civilly.”
Marshall asked that the public remain vigilant in combating this issue.
“We ask that you be watchful of those who may be in trouble,” said Marshall. “Please do not try to intervene, but instead, immediately report any suspicions to law enforcement. Together, we can save victims, one at a time, and reduce the terrible suffering caused by the trafficking of our fellow human beings. You may call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.”