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I want to bring more awareness to the major human trafficking problem in the United States, in hopes to find a way we can all help.

As community members, we need to raise awareness of human trafficking. It’s a widespread problem through the U.S., and approximately 50,000 people are trafficked into the country each year.

Human trafficking does not just happen on the streets, predators also seek victims online. An estimated 71% are women and young girls, while 29% are men and boys that are being trafficked.

There have been many articles this year regarding human trafficking in the Bay Area.

A Bay Area man was convicted of human trafficking through multiple international sex trafficking websites that included ads featuring children and earned $21 million. “Martono set up websites allowing users to search for sex workers in more than 14 U.S. cities and on five continents, according to the indictment,” said NBC Bay Area.

A 45-year-old man, a bay area resident, “was convicted of kidnapping a woman, raping her in the yard of an abandoned Richmond home, then subjecting a 12-year-old girl to a similar ordeal days later,” the Mercury News reported. He was convicted of 7 life terms, and 300 years for human trafficking.

There also was a couple in Danville, my hometown, who were arrested in 2017 for taking part in a national human trafficking ring, according to The East Bay Times.

These are just a few of the thousands of cases yearly. A lot of people don’t think it happens close to home, but it’s happening everywhere.

I was not aware of the implications and severity of human trafficking in the United States until the pandemic hit at the beginning of the year, and I want others to know how widespread the issue is.

But, how can we put an end to human trafficking?

We need to be more cognizant of the trafficking that is occurring online, and around our own towns. There are multiple documentaries about human trafficking that one can watch to educate oneself. When you are out and about you may come across suspicious behavior and it is a good idea to know how to tell if someone is in danger. It is never too early to ask questions, but it can be too late.

Human trafficking won’t be fixed overnight, but there are things that people can do in their day to day lives to stop humans from being trafficked. I ask you to be more cognizant of things going on and know that people each day are at harm.

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