Human trafficking impacts all people -- but it’s more common in Colorado than many other states. The 93 cases reported in 2015, of which more than two-thirds involved women, make Colorado one of the states with the highest prevalence of human trafficking. Of the cases that were prosecuted, 30 ended with charges of sexual servitude or trafficking.
To fight back, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded Colorado a $ 1.4 million grant.
KUNC’s Kyra Buckley spoke with Sara Nadelman, a human trafficking specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services, for a better understanding of the issue.
Why is Colorado one of the states with the highest prevalence of human trafficking?
Sara Nadelman, Colorado Department of Human Services: Colorado being such a diverse state, having rural, urban, suburban areas, as well as being on major highways and having a major international airport — we have a variety of kinds of trafficking. We have labor trafficking, we have sex trafficking — all genders are affected, all ages.
How do children become victims of human trafficking?
Nadelman: Right now social media — Kik, Meet Me, the Chat Roulette sites, Facebook, Instagram, there’s even kids going on dating sites — and people see that there are young people on there and are looking to exploit them. And it starts out really as grooming, much like in child abuse, child sexual abuse. A lot of times, it’s really like filling a void for friendship, for love, and then kind of taking it from there to more nefarious means.
Where are predators meeting people?
Nadelman: The nature of trafficking, domestically particularly — it does happen, but it’s not sort of a person gets snatched. What it really is is there’s a vulnerability there, and there are people there to exploit it.
For example, with the internet, with social media, there’s promises of jobs, there’s promises of higher pay, there’s promises of relationships and love and acceptance in places where those things might not be in somebody’s day to day life.
The other area that we sort of talk about in the anti-trafficking movement is sexually focused businesses, and that sounds very broad, and is, and frankly these are not all places that exploitation is necessarily happening, but there’s a lot of massage parlors that people are kind of looking at as potential places to be, to have trafficked folks there, there’s strip clubs, erotic revues, those things. And again, while there are businesses that are in those areas that are on the up and up, there are others where those are recruiting grounds if not places out of which there’s some trafficking going on.