January Marks Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and the Montgomery County Council will declare the month of January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month on Tuesday, according to a Montgomery County press release. Human trafficking has been an issue not only in the county and state but pretty much worldwide.

Human trafficking occurs when traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Victims of human trafficking can be women, girls, men, and boys of different ages and traffickers often target the vulnerable. Trafficking impacts foreign nationals and/or U.S. citizens.

A virtual two-panel program will be held on Thursday,  Jan. 2o to gain insights from experienced government officials on recent developments in U.S. anti-trafficking policies and programs, and important international issues in the anti-trafficking field. Some of the speakers in attendance include officials from the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Labor, and more. Dr. Kari Johnstone, acting director of the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, will deliver a keynote address.

The Montgomery County Human Trafficking Prevention Committee will partner with the Prince Georges County Human Trafficking Task Force, the Homeless Persons Representation Project, and Amara Legal Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25 to host an online discussion called, “Know Your Rights: Tools for 2022.” The online presentation is free and begins at 5 p.m.

The committee will also sponsor a social media campaign throughout January highlighting human trafficking prevention. The goal of the campaign is to educate residents on the subject, knowing the signs of trafficking and how to seek help if needed.

In 2014 the Montgomery County Human Trafficking Task Force was created to increase understanding of the issue in the county and to develop interagency coordination of strategies for response and prevention. In October 2017, the task force became the Montgomery County Human Trafficking Prevention Committee.

Registration for the virtual panel on Thursday, Jan. 20 can be accessed here. For information on the Montgomery County Human Trafficking Prevention Committee, visit their website and for more information on resources in the county, visit the resource guide.

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