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Human trafficking awareness supporters in downtown MadisonThe Wisconsin Conference Human Trafficking Task Force works to educate about and ultimately end human trafficking in our state. Here are a few facts about human trafficking and who it is impacting:

  • Human trafficking is a world wide issue that happens in our own backyards.
  • Human trafficking involves the deprivation of liberty of a person in order to exploit the victim for labor, services, and/or the sex trade.
  • Wisconsin State Law  defines trafficking as a means of knowingly recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining an individual without  consent of the individual, or attempting to do so--done by causing or threatening to cause bodily harm to any individual; causing or threatening to cause financial harm to any individual;  restraining or threatening to restrain any individual through extortion, fraud or deception, debt, or bondage; controlling any individual’s access to an addictive controlled substance; or using any scheme or pattern to cause someone to believe that any individual would suffer bodily harm, financial harm, restrain, or other harm--for the purpose of commercial sex acts or labor services.
  • Human trafficking is a hidden crime. Traffickers often operate behind a façade of legal activity and many victims do not self identify as being trafficked or are unable to report for fear of retribution. The available data vastly underestimates the magnitude of trafficking.
  • Characteristics of human trafficking in Wisconsin include clandestine and hidden; victims who do not self-identify; victims who are men, women, and children of every age, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, ethnicity, nationality, and religion; exploitation of  labor, sex and other forms; a disproportionate number of women and children from poverty stricken areas; operating in urban (especially metropolitan areas or centers of tourism) as well as rural settings (especially large farming communities); perpetrators who may be part of an organized crime group, or act on their own.
  • At risk/vulnerable populations include oppressed or marginalized groups, inhabitants of impoverished or disaster areas, individuals with drug dependency, runaways and at-risk youth, and migrant workers, temporary foreign workers, and undocumented immigrants. Not only are individuals in this group most likely to respond to traffickers’ methods, they are also the least likely to be protected by law enforcement. Impoverished women and children, women of color, and LGTB youth are the most vulnerable victims of modern day slavery.
  • Forced prostitution, according to the federal government, is the largest market for slave labor in America.
  • It is vital that minor victims of trafficking not be re-victimized by our criminal justice system. Very often, even after being rescued, the lives of trafficking victims are made more difficult by the presence of a criminal record, impeding their ability to find jobs, receive grants and assistance for education, or even regain custody of their children. Safe Harbor laws shift the paradigm away from the criminal justice system towards a child welfare response. This seems to be an obvious response, but only 11 states have passed Safe Harbor legislation. At this time, Wisconsin is not one of them.

Click here for a human trafficking poster/flyer.