Students run anti-human trafficking campaign

Hailey Steidle, Staff writer

Human trafficking occurs every year to millions of men, women, and children worldwide. This issue gets brushed over by many individuals every year due to it often being called a “silent crime” which no one speaks out about.

Because of this, many individuals do not even know what to look for regarding helping individuals who may have been trafficked.

Mercyhurst University students have stepped up to help resolve this issue by launching an anti-human trafficking campaign.

The campaign is currently spending its time hanging up posters around the Erie area to bring awareness to what human trafficking can look like.

Language barriers, fear of their traffickers and a fear of law enforcement often stop human trafficking victims from seeking the help that they may need.

Victims often do not even realize that they are victims in situations like this because traffickers convince them that they did it to themselves or that they chose this life.

These all play a part in making human trafficking a hidden crime that often is incredibly difficult to spot to an untrained eye.

By placing posters across Erie, the individuals within Mercyhurst’s anti-human trafficking campaign are stepping up to showcase just what to look for and how to help. Human trafficking often occurs in three main forms which are sex trade, forced labor, and domestic servitude. All three of these types use force, fraud, and/or coercion in order to obtain some form of forced labor for a profit.

The economic sectors that often profit the most from the trafficking of humans are agriculture, restaurant, manufacturing, domestic work, entertainment, hospitality, and the commercial sex industry.

Traffickers look for individuals who they decide are easy targets for a plethora of reasons.

The individuals that traffickers decide are easy targets are often facing economic and financial hardships, are psychologically or emotionally vulnerable, and lack social safety skills.

An individual’s surroundings can also lead to them being more likely to be trafficked, such as natural disasters and political instability. It is imperative for individuals to realize that this can occur in any community in the world and the victims can be of any race, gender, nationality, or age.

Traffickers use a plethora of methods in order to lure victims into situations that will then raise their risk of being trafficked.

The methods can include violence to the individual or to the individual’s family, manipulation by traffickers to trick individuals, making false promises of well-paying jobs, and romantic relationships to lure individuals away from their families and friends.

Traffickers also use the confusion that occurs during major sporting events to their advantage in order to silently move individuals from one place to another.

Specific major events increase the cases of human trafficking every year. These events are large-scale sporting events, like the Super Bowl and holidays, like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

Be on the lookout throughout Erie for the posters and for any signs you may see of trafficking in our community.