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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Human Trafficking

Comment: I’m putting this on here as an informational purpose.  I hear very little about human trafficking here in the U.S., however it’s a bigger deal than what I thought.  This is something that we as National Socialists do not tolerate and need to get the information out there to be more vigilant with our children when it comes to strangers and such.  I know the media likes to frighten people, but I do have daughters and nieces whom I’m very protective of and I suggest we all should be the same way.

Meghan Olinger wants to make people angry.

That's exactly how she felt when she learned about the prevalence of human trafficking in the United States. She wants people to get angry and get involved in stopping human enslavement not just thousands of miles away, but in their own backyard.

When a friend told Olinger about the occurrence of human trafficking in the country, she immediately began researching the topic and was shocked at what she found.

Like many people, Olinger believed human trafficking wasn't an issue in the U.S., but a problem found in countries like China or Russia.

Olinger, coordinator of volunteers for the West Monroe AmeriCorps, said a wealth of information about human trafficking can be found through Polaris Project, an organization in the U.S. that combats all forms of human trafficking for both U.S. citizens and foreign national victims.

"It happens here a lot in the United States — not just foreigners being trafficked into the country and sold into slavery, but Americans buying and selling other Americans. That's just incredibly shocking because we're supposed to be the leaders of the free world, but we still have slavery here today," Olinger said.

"At least every state in the country has had a victim of human trafficking. In Louisiana, there's one report that says there were about 100 teenagers who were victims of human trafficking in the last two years."

Polaris Project lobbies for new laws to be put in place in states to convict traffickers and it also helps victims re-enter society after years of abuse and slavery.

In March, she helped put on a Zumba event to raise money for Polaris Project. The group raised more than $2,000 for Polaris Project to go towards housing victims of human trafficking while they undergo treatment.

Saturday a "Run for Freedom" 5k race will be held at Kiroli Park to help raise additional funds for Polaris Project. Registration for the event begins at 6:30 a.m. The race begins at 7:30 a.m. followed by awards at 9 a.m.

Registration is $25 through Aug. 24 and $30 on race day.

Olinger's main goal for the event is to spread awareness about the problems of human trafficking in the U.S. while raising some funds for Polaris Project.

"I hope we can bring some attention to this terrible situation that's happening in our country to the people in the Ouachita Parish community. I think we sometimes sit here in northeast Louisiana and we don't think about teenagers being sold into the sex trade and that those teenagers could be our kids, our cousins, our nieces. We live in a bubble, so for me the biggest thing this year is to raise awareness about human trafficking and get people upset and angry. That's what got me involved in it. I was upset and angry this was happening," Olinger said.

She hopes to make the Run for Freedom an annual fundraiser.

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