Community Discusses Sex Trafficking Problem

Gathering focused on raising awareness and finding solutions to trafficking in the Northland

DULUTH, Minn. – January is human trafficking awareness month, when organizations across the country shine a light on causes and effects of the sex trafficking epidemic.

It is estimated that more than 20 million adults and about 2 million children are trafficked worldwide.

Sex trafficking is happening in the Twin Ports region, not just in far away places. Because of this growing problem, the Duluth Trafficking Task Force is working hard to raise awareness and come up with possible solutions.

“A lot of Duluthians, a lot of neighbors and friends shake their heads and think, ‘Gee in this quiet little community, we really have to be concerned about trafficking?’ But yes we do,” says task force member Adele Yorde.

It’s a crime many people don’t see even when it happens in front of their eyes.

“A lot of these young people and vulnerable adults get trafficked across the U.S. going through our neighborhoods,” says Yorde.

So community awareness is key for citizens to recognize the signs of trafficking.

Examples would be that somebody comes in and the pimp is finishing their sentences for them, the person might not be willing to leave their side,” says Essentia Health Executive Vice President of Operations Jeff Korsmo.

And for at-risk adults to avoid criminals waiting to take advantage of them.

“The man they are living with, who’s forcing them to have sex in exchange for that apartment is actually not a boyfriend,” says Yorde. “That’s a trafficker.”

Most trafficking victims access health care, so trained health professionals can be bey in identifying the problem.

“There’s a line of questioning to ask them about do they feel safe, have they been threatened,” says Korsmo. “And to help them process that they’re actually in a situation they need to get out of.”

Making victims feel more comfortable coming forward and reporting their abuse is one of the big ways to stop trafficking.

“We have to lessen the demand, we have to bring to justice the buyers and sellers, and we have to make it safer for those potential victims,” says Yorde.

PAVSA, Life House, Lutheran Social Services, and North Homes Children and Family Services are several resources victims have in Duluth to receive care.

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