Human trafficking awareness in Oregon

ISABEL VERDUZCO  The Mainstream

Oregonian Rebecca Bender on her website tells the story of how she was manipulated and sold for sex by a man she thought she was in love with. He convinced her that if she moved to Las Vegas from her Eugene apartment with him, she would get the family she had always wanted. She would be able to raise her 1-year-old girl properly. Right after they arrived, she was taken to an escort service and forced to engage.

Rebecca then developed a cocaine addiction, stuck in the human trafficking world for six years.

Rebecca’s story is not as unusual as it should be. The National Human Trafficking Hotline website recorded 33 cases in Oregon last year, 22 of which were for sex, five for labor and four for sex and labor.

The hotline also received 168 phone calls from victims or people that thought they knew a victim. Nationally, 4,460 human trafficking cases were reported along with 13,897 calls made to the hotline.

President Donald J. Trump declared on Dec. 29, 2017 that January 2018 would be recognized as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The White House’s website stated that “an estimated 25 million people are currently victims of human trafficking for both sex and labor.”

The White House website also states that, over the past year, an inter-agency task force was created to develop new anti-slavery policies, and Trump signed an executive order aimed at criminal organizations which have a record of trafficking humans.

Large organizations are putting in efforts to stop the human trafficking that is happening in Oregon, and a few are stationed and focused on Douglas County.

Oregonians Against Trafficking Humans (OATH), established in 2008, continues to put in the work to end human trafficking in Oregon specifically. Their goal is “to prevent the exploitation of men, women and youth, by educating and promoting practical community engagement by Oregonians in order to end the tragedy of trafficking”. They also aim to provide public awareness and education to everyone in the state.

Up2UsNOW, stationed in Roseburg, Oregon, also aims to educate the public. While they are more focused on child abuse, preventing human trafficking is part of the organization as minors are also forced into the sex world.

Abolition513 is a religious Douglas County group with the same goal in mind. Their website states that they are “a faith based group of local citizens who are passionate about doing something to combat the evil of Human Trafficking.”
They say they want to get the communities in the county to get involved and “do something” about the issue.

Not all UCC students are aware of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. “We are all human, and to not be concerned and disgusted about the issue of human trafficking is inhumane,” Matthew Stone, an AAOT student, says. “Becoming educated through the different organizations in Douglas County or even the internet can bring the awareness that is needed to prevent it.”

For more information on the organizations above and how to get involved, see the following websites:
www.oregonoath.org
www.up2usnow.org
www.abolition513.com

Additionally, if you or anybody you know is in need of help, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center asks that you call them at 1(888)373-7888 or text “help” to 233733.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are also able to communicate in over 200 languages. •

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