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Keeping an Eye Out For Human Trafficking

Keeping+an+Eye+Out+For+Human+Trafficking
Gabriella Lopez

Trigger Warning- This topic may be sensitive for some viewers. 

Human Trafficking is a serious and ever-present issue in America, and everyone needs to be aware of it. Human trafficking is human kidnapping and trading for exploitation, whether that be forced labor or sexual exploitation. According to wisevoter.com, as of 2023, Florida had 1,253 human trafficking victims. Our state has the third highest number of cases out of the entire country, and those are just what we know of.      

There have been multiple sex trafficking rings specifically in Southwest Florida, even in Fort Myers. This scares me so much, and it makes me so disappointed that these case numbers continue to grow. These rings are hard to track and very gradual as it’s hard to determine if people just went “missing.” 

Often, we think that human trafficking only occurs by random perpetrators, but human trafficking goes much deeper—and is much scarier—than that.   

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No one is safe from being trafficked, but some groups are more vulnerable than others. For example, people with unstable housing or trauma/addiction are at a higher risk of being manipulated into trafficking. It is important that we keep an eye out for others who may be brought into these situations and watch for signs asking for help.    

Also, traffickers can be anyone. This means family, partners and even bosses can be involved in human trafficking. We should remind ourselves that trafficking can happen to anyone, even us.   

Trafficking can involve someone being forced or manipulated into working long hours without breaks, poor lack of pay, being forced to do unusual tasks or sexual manipulation. It can happen in plain sight, so it is essential to always keep an open ear and eye.   

College students are vulnerable in their own way because they often go out alone, and most freshmen live on a public campus. According to un.org, women and girls make up 71% of human trafficking victims, making females bigger targets. This means that everyone, but specifically female students, should use the buddy system when walking home from a night class or through secluded trails. They should also stay aware of their surroundings. If you know you will be out alone, consider bringing mace and other self-defense weapons.    

If you ever notice unusual behavior or hear of someone who may be a victim of trafficking, contact the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.   

Hopefully, with time, we can combat this issue by protecting ourselves and those around us. 

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About the Contributor
Gabriella Lopez, Graphics Editor
Gabriella Lopez is a senior majoring in digital media design with a minor in marketing. She is from Fort Lauderdale and now lives on campus. She has been working with graphics for seven years and has multiple certifications including Adobe Photoshop and Premiere. She has been helping Eagle Media since her sophomore year and has held the official title of Graphics Editor for over a year now. When she is not making the Eagle News magazine, she can be found biking around campus or reading a new book.

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