We see it on the news every week. Somebody disappears- maybe for a short time, maybe for a long time, maybe forever. Often, they are victims of human trafficking- modern day slavery of global proportions. RTA and other public transit agencies are committed to raising awareness of this problem, and joining in the fight to eliminate it.
So what is human trafficking? Basically, it is modern day slavery- a crime and civil rights abuse that affects millions of men, women and children around the world. Force, fraud, or coercion is used to compel someone into labor servitude or sexual exploitation. Every minor that is exploited for sex is a victim of human trafficking. You don’t always see it happening. But hopefully, we can begin to recognize the signs and symptoms in order to help stop it.
Human trafficking happens all over the world, but is also happening right here in Cleveland. Just a few short years ago, a nationwide case of missing persons was solved with the escape of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. These ladies are pulling from their horrendous experience to help make sure others don’t fall victim to the same thing.
You may think that Cleveland isn’t a hot spot for trafficking. With its easy access to I-90, a cross-country truck route, and other transportation options, there is more trafficking than we would all like to believe. RTA is taking a stand against human trafficking on our system and we have trained all 2,000 bus operators and all Transit Police officers to look for the signs of those who are victims.
In 2018 others have begun to take notice. Representatives from Ukraine and Oman have visited the United States, and met with Cleveland RTA specifically, to learn more about how to combat this worldwide issue. Working together, we can create a safer place for all.
RTA works closely with the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking on all messaging and active cases. For more information on how you can get involved, check out https://www.collabtoendht.org/.