Monday, January 11th, is National Human Trafficking Awareness day and one local community is bringing attention to a crime that often that’s often going on in plain sight.
Damascus road is an organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking since 2009.
Terra Koslowski is the Outreach Director for Damascus Road and describes human trafficking as, “the exploitation of a person for commercial sex or forced labor and it usually involves force, fraud or coercion and if the person is over the age of 18 one of those elements has to be present for it to be considered trafficking but for a minor it would always be considered trafficking.”
Dozens of volunteers from Damascus Road along with the Oshkosh Police Department rallied for the 11th Annual ‘Stop the Traffick – Make Some Noise’ for Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Sgt. Brandon Ansell with the Oshkosh Police Department says, “The city of Oshkosh Police Department has in fact investigated incidences of human trafficking in the city of Oshkosh so it does exist in our community.”
Damascus road held a rally to give voice to a crime that often goes unnoticed.
Koslowski says, “It’s considered silent because you can’t visibly see it out on the street, especially here in Oshkosh we don’t have people walking out on the street like you might in bigger cities.”
Sgt. Ansell says, “It’s something to look for and a lot of times when the acts do happen again there is a victimization process to it rather than a voluntary process.”
Human trafficking is often called the silent secret because its victims often feel trapped.
“Esther” a victim of human trafficking describes her experience, “I’ve had men texting my phone and telling me I need to work for them that they’re going to come to pick up money and if I don’t they’re going to find me. So I mean it just comes and I’m in a little town in Wisconsin.”
Organizers hope that by getting people to honk their horns, they can bring attention to a crime that often remains hidden.
Koslowski says, “A lot of people think that it doesn’t happen here and its really important for people to know that it does.”
Damascus road’s outreach director says they’ve helped more than 75 victims in 2020, escape human trafficking in Wisconsin.
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