Human trafficking is considered a taboo topic—avoided not only because it makes us uncomfortable, but because the act of discussing the subject forces us to admit that it is real and happening right here in our own community. Junior League of New Orleans’ ABOLISH Human Trafficking Committee seeks to illuminate the problem and uplift the vital prevention and response work being done by local professionals such as Jennifer Ray, Coordinator for the Greater New Orleans Human Trafficking Task Force.
For those new to the subject of human trafficking, Jennifer refers to the Action-Means-Purpose (A-M-P) Model, which explains that human trafficking occurs when a perpetrator induces, recruits, harbors, transports, provides or obtains an individual through the means of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex or labor services.
“Traffickers deceive individuals who are poor, vulnerable and generally existing in an unstable environment, offering them false promises of love, a good job or a better life,” explains Jennifer. “They lure or force their victims into situations where they are made to work under deplorable conditions with little or no pay.”
Due to its coercive nature, it is difficult to pinpoint the reach of human trafficking. What we do know is that in 2019, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 11,500 cases in the U.S. By the end of 2020, 28 agencies in Louisiana provided data on clients served, confirming 759 prospective victims—a 18 percent decrease in victims identified in the previous year. Of the 530 juveniles and 198 adults reported, 94 percent were sexual trafficking victims, seven were victims of labor trafficking and nine were victims of both. For comparison, in 2020, the Greater New Orleans Task Force, Covenant House New Orleans, New Orleans Family Justice Center, Jewish Family Services of the Greater New Orleans and Eden House of New Orleans provided services to 227 clients.
“During the COVID-19 crisis, the lack of consistent and reliable data impacted service efforts and overall reporting of human trafficking in our country,” says Jennifer. “Without sufficient data, we cannot establish concrete trends, nor understand how victims are being affected. Survivors have given us some perspective through their shared experiences of increased isolation, job loss and financial instabilities—all threatening their individual safety and security.”
Becoming informed citizens is a necessary step towards eliminating human trafficking, and avoidance only perpetuates the problem. Jennifer Ray and ABOLISH invite the community to join the conversation in January, which is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Visit www.jlno.org/ABOLISH to register for free programming hosted by the Junior League of New Orleans. More information about the work being done by the Greater New Orleans Human Trafficking Task Force can be found at www.nolatrafficking.org.
“Stopping Traffic” Talk
Wednesday, December 15, 2021 6 –7pm, JLNO Headquarters
The community is invited to join Junior League of New Orleans in watching and discussing, “Stopping Traffic,” an inspiring documentary featuring heroes of the anti-sex-trafficking movement and bringing light to their efforts to raise awareness and provide solutions. Registrants should watch the film for free through Pluto TV or another online streaming service prior to the talk on Dec. 15. Participating in the online talk is Eden House founder and CEO, Kara Van de Carr, and moderator, Susan Dold, Systems Administrator for Truckers Against Trafficking. Additional speakers to be announced.