More than 150 people are victims of human trafficking in Wisconsin every year. January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Human trafficking isn’t a problem of the past. A modern day form of slavery, human trafficking is when a person coerces another to provide labor or services– often, sex acts. The coercion can be subtle or overt. Physical or psychological. In all cases, it is illegal and all too common. Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of trafficking victims living in the US. In 2019 alone, the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline fielded 11,500 calls from more than 22,000 victims and survivors.
In Wisconsin, 95 cases of human trafficking involving 166 were reported in 2021, with “reported” being the key word.
This January, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul launched a new program to help them.
What it is…
Wisconsin’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force will ensure that all trafficking victims are identified, their cases are investigated, and they can access support services. The goal is to build stronger relationships between police officers and victim service centers at the local, state, tribal, and federal levels so that victims are prioritized while their cases are investigated.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation and Project Respect will lead the new task force– which will also include federal, state, and tribal law enforcement and victim service providers.
Who’s paying for it…
A multi-year grant from the United States Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime. This money will be used to hire several specialists, including a Task Force Coordinator, a Program & Policy Analyst, a Human Trafficking Special Agent based at DCI, and two full-time Human Trafficking Victim Advocates.
Why It matters…
Working together has been proven to provide faster, more proactive, successful prosecution of human trafficking cases, as well as help people who’ve been victimized readjust to “normal life.”