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ND advocates say more victims come forward, but human trafficking crimes continue to rise – KFYR

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – Since 2015, North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force members have investigated more than 200 cases of human trafficking in the state. Most of those cases have been for sex, with some reports of . and advocates continue to work to help the victims, prosecute the perpetrators, and educate the public. Your News Leader has more for Human Trafficking Week.

It’s dubbed ‘modern day slavery’ and it’s found across the globe, as well as right here at home. Human trafficking is a human rights violation involving a third party exploiting a person for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation.

Human trafficking doesn’t always look like you’d expect.

“It’s probably a little more underground in North Dakota than in some other states because we don’t have individuals engaging in prostitution, walking up and down the street, you know, the stereotypical movie thing where the car pulls up,” said Sgt. Mike Bolme, Bismarck Police Department.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions that it’s kidnapping. But to be honest that kind of trafficking is very rare here in North Dakota. Actually, what we see the most of right now is something we call familial trafficking, where it’s the family member that is the trafficker,” said Stacy Schaffer, executive director of 31:8 Project.

“A lot of times it starts with familial sexual abuse and graduates to trafficking,” added Sgt. Bolme.

Advocates say is also often used by traffickers to recruit the vulnerable.

Police say the issue hits close to home.

“We do have confirmed cases, I would say, weekly of this,” said Sgt. Bolme.

Just last month, a spa in Bismarck was shut down and two people were arrested after prosecutors say they engaged in human trafficking.

“The spa cases are tough because we run into language barriers, so it is difficult to get into back stories of what got them into that position in the first place,” said Sgt. Bolme.

Officers on patrol are always on the look-out for individuals being exploited for drugs or shelter.

“Our first goal as investigators and as a multi-disciplinary team is to get that person, the help they need to get out of that life. Part of the reason we do it that way is, A) it’s the right thing to do, but B) we need their help to prosecute the trafficker,” said Sgt. Bolme.

“A lot of the victims they feel like it is their fault, or they did something to deserve their situation when that’s not true at all. So, there’s a lot of fear that goes into it. Their traffickers put fear into them,” said Schaffer.

The public can also help by reporting potential situations to law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Line.

“The other thing we have been able to do is raise a lot more awareness on this topic, so we’re actually getting people coming forward more often than we had before. We know the crime continues to grow, but on the other side we know more people are being educated than before,” added Schaffer.

North Dakota has laws to address human trafficking, including laws that treat trafficked youth as victims and provide stricter penalties for traffickers.

North Dakota’s task force has served more than 650 victims of human trafficking since 2015.

For more information on the realities of human trafficking in North Dakota visit: Human Trafficking | Attorney General (nd.gov).

Copyright 2022 KFYR. All rights reserved.

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original location.

ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original online location.

ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials online course is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.

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