Dozens walk to bring awareness to human trafficking

Dozens gathered for the Walk for Freedom in Kearney on Saturday.
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 4:54 PM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KNOP) - Dozens gathered at the New Life Church in Kearney for the Walk for Freedom event on Saturday.

They joined hundreds worldwide to take a stand against human trafficking.

Members of North Platte’s News Life Church Book Club made the trip to the Buffalo County community to walk 3.5 miles in solitude.

The walk is sponsored by A21. Organizers said while this is a global issue, it’s also very much a local issue that too often gets overlooked.

“One of the things that really hit me hard is that right now in the world today, in 2021, there are more people enslaved in the world today than have ever been in human history,” said walk organizer Abby Richards. “When I heard that statistic it broke my heart and that’s part of the reason why I have been passionate about this work for a while and felt compelled to bring this here to Kearney to kind of help everyone understand the need that’s there to help stop this injustice across the world and locally.”

Advocates said human trafficking can present itself in many forms such as domestic abuse, trauma, and manipulation by people close to you. They say the heartbeat behind Saturday’s walk is if you see something, say something.

If you or loved one needs help or resources to escape a harmful situation, call 911 immediately or the national hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Slavery by the numbers:

*There are more people enslaved today than any other time in history.

*$150 billion dollar industry

*40.3 million people enslaved

*71% women 29% men 25% children

*Slavery happens in every country

*5.4 out of every 1,000 people are enslaved in the world

Know the signs:

CONTROLLED BY ANOTHER PERSON: They are accompanied by a controlling person, and do not speak on his or her own behalf, but instead defer to another person.

CONTROLLED MOVEMENT: They are transported to or from work, or live and work at the same place. They show signs that their movements are being controlled.

LACK OF EARNINGS: They are unable to keep his or her earnings: it is “withheld for safekeeping.” In many cases, the person owes a debt they are working to pay off.

FOREIGN, UNFAMILIAR WITH THE LANGUAGE: They have recently arrived in the country and do not speak the language of the country—or they only know sex-related or labor-related words.

OVERLY FEARFUL, DEPRESSED, AND SUBMISSIVE BEHAVIOR: They are frightened to talk to outsiders and authorities since they are closely monitored and controlled by their trafficker(s). They may be fearful, anxious, depressed, overly submissive, and may avoid eye contact.

BAD HEALTH AND MALNUTRITION: They may have signs of abuse or signs of being denied food, water, sleep, and/or medical care.

LACK OF OFFICIAL IDENTIFICATION: They are not in possession of their passports, identification, or legal documents.

SIGNS OF PHYSICAL ABUSE: They may have bruises, scars, and other signs of physical abuse and torture. Victims of human trafficking are often beaten in areas that will not damage their appearance, such as their lower back.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE: They may show signs of drug use or drug addiction. They can be forced or coerced into drug use by his or her traffickers, or turn to substance abuse to help cope with his or her enslavement.

LACK OF TRUST: They may be distrustful and suspicious. A victim of human trafficking may act as if they distrust any person who offers them assistance or attempts to converse with them.

LACK OF PERSONAL BELONGINGS: They may have few or no personal possessions.

SIGNS OF DEPENDENCE: They may demonstrate affection, attachment, or dependence toward their abuser.

DECEIVED BY A FALSE JOB OFFER: Their actual job is different from the advertised job they had accepted.

FEELINGS OF BEING TRAPPED: They feel that they are unable to leave their current situation.

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