Human trafficking, or slavery of the 21st century, is one of the most disgraceful and lucrative crimes.

It is right up there with the sale of arms and drug trading. Human trafficking is more profitable for traffickers than selling one kilo of cocaine.

Human trafficking consists of tricking, recruiting and kidnapping vulnerable women, children and men and those who cross the borders to flee the conflicts of their home country. Victims are caught in a situation of degradation by sexual exploitation and forced labor.

Prostituting is not a lifestyle led by its own decision; it is forced upon those who have no choice. It is forced by constant threats of physical and emotional abuse and the carrying out of those threats on the victim or their loved ones.

Forced labor can be disguised and unclear. It can be long days of work without rest, very low wages, or non-payment of someone’s salary and the withholding of documents that would normally allow that person to be a documented worker.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Human trafficking does occur in Trempealeau County. There are people who need our help and understanding. My name is Lynda Crowley, I am from Colombia and I work with trafficked victims.

Lynda Crowley, Whitehall

Lynda Crowley is the anti-human trafficking advocate in Trempealeau County for New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Centers. She is originally from Colombia.

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