Officers to Be Taught to Recognize Human Trafficking
The women and men found engaged in commercial sex work are treated as victims and potential sources of information.
“Everyone isn’t a criminal and locking everyone up isn’t a solution for everything,” said Lori Stee, public policy director for Breaking Free, an organization dedicated to helping women who’ve escaped forced prostitution and slavery.
She said the attitude shift in the United States has been slow and is only now beginning with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies discovering that combating the problem means going after the ones who collect the money and the ones who spend the money.
“A majority of women experience it as paid rape, and they’re not making the money,” Stee said.
As defined by law, human trafficking is forcing or coercing a person — sometimes, but not always, involving transportation across borders — to perform services such as sex work, housekeeping, agricultural labor and construction. It often includes psychological manipulation, isolation and threats.
The Natchitoches case — in which a woman was allegedly chained outdoors and fed once a day — was shocking, but people are rarely discovered in such condition on American soil. According to the Modern Slavery Research Project at Loyola University, there are no precise statistics on the amount and scope of human trafficking cases in Louisiana. As the organization highlighted in a report this year, human trafficking sometimes occurs within families, such as the case of a Bossier Parish couple charged last year with forcing two of their underage female relatives to have sex with men.