ATLANTA, GA. (WRBL) – Human Trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world.
A multi-billion criminal enterprise, human trafficking is an affliction that leaves no corner of the globe untouched, according to the office of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. It involves both commercial sexual exploitation and labor servitude.
It is estimated that there are 1.5 million human trafficking victims in the United States, of those victims, most are children.
Georgia is a hot bed for human trafficking because of the easy access to interstates and a major international airport.
Most people don’t know how prevalent human trafficking is, even when it’s happening in their own backyard. That was the case for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and his wife, First Lady Marty Kemp. “We didn’t even know it was an issue but we were moved by a family by this,” Gov. Brian Kemp.
“It’s modern day slavery, the average age is a 14 year old child. I mean it’s horrific what’s going on,” says Gov. Kemp, “We need people to be our eyes and ears to report to law enforcement.”
Governor Kemp has rolled out training for 80,000 state employees to look for key signs of human trafficking.
First Lady Marty Kemp is also taking action. The First Lady set-up the Georgians For Refuge, Action, Compassion, and Education Commission (GRACE Commission) in an effort to end human trafficking in the Georgia.
The GRACE Commission is comprised of public officials, law enforcement, for-profit and non-profit organizations, faith-based institutions, and subject matter experts to tackle human trafficking, seek justice for victims, and hold bad actors accountable.
The hearts of the Kemp family go out to the victims that have endured human trafficking. “She was robbed of her childhood, she never went to football games, homecomings, school, she had no normalcy” says First Lady Marty Kemp,”It just makes you want to hug them you are here to help.”
The FBI recently named Atlanta as one of the top fourteen cities with abnormally high rates of human trafficking. According to the GRACE Commission the issue is not limited to Atlanta, human trafficking is taking place in every corner of our state. “The research says its in 145 of 159 counties,” says First Lady Kemp.
A new study says 85 percent of victims are United States citizens, mostly runaways. Even more horrific, Georgia Cares says more than half of the victims are trafficked by the people they trust most, their family or friends.
According to Carr’s office an overwhelming number of human trafficking victims are runaways, 70-90% have been sexually abused, most come from troubled homes. Additionally abuse, neglect, parental crime and addiction are common, as are truancy and school problems.
While the goal is to stop human trafficking all together, those who have already become a victim to it need support and a way to reclaim their lives. First Lady Marty Kemp says Georgia needs more recovery centers in the state to help victims transition back into normal life. “We only have 70 beds in the state and have 700 calls or more,” says Kemp. “We owe to these individuals who have been treated so terribly to be able to acclimate into life”
If you do see something you suspect may be human trafficking related, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233-733.