January Focus: Human Trafficking

During 2014, Serve the City Baltimore will highlight a different issue facing Baltimore City each month.  Staffer Erin O’Brien writes about Human Trafficking for January:

Over the holidays I was talking to some family members about Serve the City Baltimore.  When I mentioned that we would be highlighting human trafficking in January, because it’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month, they were surprised.  They had no idea that trafficking was a domestic issue, let alone a problem in Baltimore.

What is Trafficking, and Why Should I Care?

Human trafficking is the trade of humans, often for sex slavery or forced labor.  It doesn’t require that the victim be moved across national or even state lines – if a person is coerced physically or psychologically to provide labor or sexual services, they have been trafficked.  And it happens in our own backyard, and it touches all of us:

I have driven down the street in West Baltimore where girls are dumped by their pimps after they reach the end of their usefulness as sex workers.  Last year I worked with other Serve the City volunteers at the opening of a center for trafficking victims in South Baltimore.  Even my local mall in Columbia has been targeted by traffickers looking to prey on pre-teen girls.  Human Trafficking is an issue facing all of us in the Baltimore region – one that crosses racial, geographic, and economic lines.  

Want to learn more?  Check out these links:

The Baltimore Sun has a number of articles about trafficking in Maryland

Article about proposal to change Maryland law regarding trafficking

Human Trafficking and the Super Bowl

What Can I Do?

Serve the City Baltimore has partnered with two organizations that are working to care for victims and bring change to the social structures that support this crime. The Samaritan Women (TSW) is the only residential program for women who have been victims of trafficking in the state of Maryland.  TSW uses volunteers to work on their farm, host events, and provide life training for their residents. This FAQ sheet will tell you all about volunteering with TSW. They are also looking to partner with churches, and you can read more about that here.

Safe House of Hope is another organization in Baltimore looking to end human trafficking. They offer classes, free HIV testing, and other resources for the victims of human trafficking. Some volunteers go out on the streets of Baltimore and try to befriend some of the victims. Safe House of Hope offers Human Trafficking 101 to educate people on Human Trafficking. You can click here to see the trainings that are offered. Volunteers are always needed no matter the skill, interests, or time commitment. 

Posted on January 16, 2014 .