It doesn’t seem possible, but slavery still exists in the Land of Lincoln.
Every year, as many as 25,000 people in Illinois are trapped in the modern-day slavery of human trafficking, exploited for sex, drugs, violence, forced labor, or worse. Law enforcement, state and federal authorities, and independent groups are fighting back just as hard. This week at the state Capitol, Republicans and Democrats joined together to host an event to honor the heroes combatting human trafficking in Illinois, and raise awareness of this horrible crime.
The event featured more than 20 organizations that fight human trafficking. Among the featured speakers was Brenda Myers-Powell, Executive Director of the Dreamcatcher Foundation and a former victim herself. “I couldn’t stand being a girl who nobody was looking for,” said Myers-Powell. “My story is beautiful now, because I fight for girls like me.”
This event was the first in a series of awareness and advocacy events throughout Illinois, to shine a light on a crime that happens too often in the shadows. In an attempt to help fight back and confront the very real issues of human trafficking within our state, House Bill 2822 was passed unanimously through the Illinois House last month. This bill creates a Human Trafficking Task Force in Illinois to promote and improve coordination and communication between trafficking fighters. As it currently stands, this measure is working its way through the Senate.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline is 888-373-7888, and the Illinois DCFS Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is 800-252-2873.