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End sex trafficking: Start by getting educated on the issue

I am writing to express my concern about the high rates of human trafficking in Minnesota, specifically in the Duluth area. As an undergraduate social work student at the College of St. Scholastica, I am working with a group to raise awareness about human trafficking in our region.

According to “Human Sex Trafficking In Duluth: A Study of the Current Situation, Contributing Factors, And Appropriate Adverse Action,” by Kelsey Fuhrman in 2011, “It is estimated that anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 women and children are in some way involved in prostitution on any day in the state of Minnesota.” There isn’t one specific type of person involved in trafficking and “victims come from all socioeconomic backgrounds; although drugs, lack of education, unhealthy family structure, residence in a foster home, and previous abuse history are high-risk factors associated with trafficking.” The report further stated that, “A Duluth representative whose organization tracks victims revealed that roughly 49 percent of women served by the organization could be considered trafficked.”

At 7 p.m. Monday at the University of Minnesota Duluth (Bohannon Hall 90), the keynote speaker on the problem of human trafficking will be Rachel Lloyd, who founded GEMS, or Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, in 1998. According to the GEMS website, “She was driven by the lack of services for commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked girls and young women and the incredible stigma and punishment they faced from service providers, law enforcement, the courts, their families and society.” She has made a significant impact in New York to change policy to support women and girls affected by human trafficking.

We encourage all community members to attend this free event to gain knowledge and awareness about this issue that affects Duluth.

Morgan Croft is a College of St. Scholastica student living in Duluth.