Cullman’s Kathy Wilson reports from 2019 Alabama State Human Trafficking Summit

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Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force Chairperson Kathy Wilson with Alabama State Human Trafficking Task Force Chairperson Pat McKay.  (Photo courtesy Kathy Wilson)

MONTGOMERY – Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force Chairperson Kathy Wilson represented the Cullman area, sitting on a panel and discussing developing community awareness at the 2019 Alabama State Human Trafficking Summit in Montgomery on Friday.  She sent The Tribune this report:

The fifth annual Alabama Human Trafficking Summit was held today in Montgomery, Alabama, with record attendance of 296-plus participants.  Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall addressed the group with words of encouragement and praise for the efforts Alabama has made to combat human trafficking.

This year’s summit focused on labor trafficking.  Polaris Project provides the following information for labor trafficking:

Labor traffickers – including recruiters, contractors, employers, and others – use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, or other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will in many different industries.

Labor traffickers often make false promises of a high-paying job or exciting education or travel opportunities to lure people into horrendous working conditions. Yet, victims find that the reality of their jobs proves to be far different than promised and must frequently work long hours for little to no pay. Their employers exert such physical or psychological control – including physical abuse, debt bondage, confiscation of passports or money – that the victim believes they have no other choice but to continue working for that employer.

U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, children, and LGBTQ individuals can be victims of labor trafficking. Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers. Immigration status, recruitment debt, isolation, poverty, and a lack of strong labor protections are just some of the vulnerabilities that can lead to labor trafficking.

Labor trafficking occurs in numerous industries in the U.S. and globally. In the United States, common types of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farmworkers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions. Labor trafficking has also been reported in door-to-door sales crews, restaurants, construction work, carnivals, and even health and beauty services.

Key Statistics

  • Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.1 million people trapped in forced labor in industries including agriculture, construction, domestic work and manufacturing.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 148 goods from 76 countries made by forced and child labor.
  • Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline, operated by Polaris, received reports of more than 7,800 labor trafficking cases inside the United States.

For more on the Polaris Project, visit www.polarisproject.org.

For more on human trafficking in Alabama, including how to recognize and respond to the problem, visit www.enditalabama.org.

For more on the Cullman County Human Trafficking Task Force, visit www.facebook.com/Cullman-County-Human-Trafficking-Task-Force-870585096352748/.

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