World Day Against Human Trafficking is Friday, July 30.

Most people don’t realize or see it but, in Eastern North Carolina human trafficking is taking place right in front of them. Especially in the rural agriculture based area.

Melinda Sampson, Community Outreach Coordinator for NC Stop Human Trafficking, said, “Agriculture is the number one issue in this area with labor trafficking taking place.”

Labor trafficking or any type of human trafficking is not something people generally keep an eye out for simply because our culture has made it an acceptable practice. With most human trafficking but especially prostitution there is more than likely a third party compeller involved. Which means there may be another individual that is compelling someone to a commercial sex act.

What is labor trafficking?

Labor trafficking is actually a form of modern day slavery. It is when individuals perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion. Some common types of labor trafficking include people that are forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farmworkers coerced through violence as they harvest crops or factory workers held in inhumane conditions receiving little to no pay.

Approximately 21 million people are victims of forced labor globally, along with a significant number also being trafficking victims, according to the International Labour Organization.

Sampson also noted, “Human trafficking is not any different in this county or surrounding counties than it is anywhere else in Eastern North Carolina.”

Also in Eastern North Carolina domestic human trafficking is another act taking place out in the open in the area and the surrounding areas. Domestic human trafficking takes places when the entirety of the crime occurs within the country’s borders, and no international boundary is crossed.

The vision for the NC Stop Human Trafficking is to have a state free of human trafficking. But in order to do that they are working together to in the communities to actively abolish the produce.

The main way to help stop human trafficking is through education which is done by in person trainings. Education focuses on the citizens to start out with, because they are working together to abolish human trafficking. With training the citizens on how to identify a potential victim. They will then be equipped to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Next is training the professionals working in the fields of health care, education, law enforcement, victim assistance services, child advocates, counselors and the judicial system. If the workers in the fields know about child and human trafficking they can and will be more willing to report what they see to the hotline as well.

Community outreach then takes place after the education. By doing the community outreach, the NC Stop Human Trafficking teams go out in the communities with information on human trafficking, the hotline number, along with asking businesses, agencies and other individuals to join in on the anti-human trafficking movement.

Once the community outreaches have taken place then comes in the collaboration.

With collaboration the NC Stop Human Trafficking team works on building coalitions, so that the communities can build capacity to fight human trafficking more effectively and with more cohesion. Human trafficking is a multi-faceted and a complex issue that takes a network of service providers and advocates to come together to provide wraparound services to victims, improve community engagement and prevent human trafficking as a whole in the neighborhoods.

Legislation is change that begins with sound policy decisions. The NC Stop Human Trafficking team advocates for a stronger anti-human trafficking legislation on a state along with a federal level.

Whether it is from expansions of expunctions for human trafficking survivors to the improved funding for anti-human trafficking work to the Safe Harbor legislation that was passed in 2013, the NC Stop Human Trafficking team have advocated for a state and country that delivers compassionate services to human trafficking survivors along with proactively working to prevent human trafficking.

Last, but not least, is fair trading, which is when fair trade products are introduced into the local markets. The more people who demand products that are free of forced labor, the less human trafficking there is globally. When more people begin demanding ethically made products, the companies will then follow suit and change their exploitative business practices.

Locally, as a community, to help is to develop a social support group in the more vulnerable populations. The more social supports that are built the less vulnerable people in the those populations will be to acts human trafficking.

“There are a lot of different things that can be done to stop human trafficking or to decrease the prevalence of it, those are just a few,” said Sampson.

Anyone who would like to help there are different options. These options consist of internships, donations, a persons time, and a persons voice.

To find out how to get involved in any of those you can go to www.nc.stophumantrafficking.org.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.