LANSING—People from across the state came to Lansing on Thursday to participate in the Shine the Light on Human Trafficking Day at the Michigan Capitol.
The event was hosted by Sen. Judy Emmons and featured special guest Theresa Flores, a Michigan native who is a survivor, author and renowned expert on human trafficking.
“I was proud to host the ‘Shine the Light on Human Trafficking Day’ as part of an ongoing effort to bring attention to a global, criminal industry that devastates the lives of thousands of women and children every year in Michigan,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan “One of the biggest issues in ending this heinous crime is that human trafficking is clouded in shadow. This event was about coming together as a light piercing the darkness — shining a light on this modern-day slavery.”
Participants were welcomed by Emmons and then heard from Flores and other human trafficking victims and prevention experts. The group then listened to personal testimony before a Senate committee concerning human trafficking and headed to the Senate gallery to watch session and meet lawmakers.
“It was good to see so many concerned Michigan residents show their support during a compelling committee hearing on this critical issue and participate in productive idea-sharing group sessions,” said Emmons, chair of the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee. “People were able to hear about the seriousness of the problem, see what we are doing to end human trafficking in Michigan and learn about what they can do to help stop the exploitation of women and children.”
Flores shared her personal story about how she overcame human trafficking and her efforts to end the crime nationwide. Last year, Flores joined Emmons in announcing a 19-bill, bipartisan Senate package addressing human trafficking in Michigan, including increasing penalties, training and victim support.
“Human trafficking is the second-leading crime in Michigan, and I know this because I was trafficked here over 30 years ago,” said Flores at the announcement. “Thank you to strong leaders like Senator Emmons, who say ‘we refuse to let this happen in our state.’”
Emmons and Flores spent Human Trafficking Awareness Day in January with S.O.A.P. (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) for its 3rd Annual Detroit Auto Show Outreach. Flores developed the initiative to publicize the human trafficking hotline number that can be called by victims or observers. S.O.A.P. deliver soap bars with the toll-free number to area hotels in advance of events like the Detroit auto show and the Super Bowl.
Emmons said residents can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline toll-free, 24-hours-a-day at 1-888-3737-888 to report a potential case of human trafficking.
“As the point person in the Senate on human trafficking, I know that we up against a criminal industry that is second only to illegal drugs,” Emmons said. “To be successful we need a comprehensive solution. We need more legal tools, increased support for victims and additional training for those on the front lines — but it all starts with raising public awareness.”
Editor’s Note: Print-quality photographs are available by visiting Emmons’ website at www.SenatorJudyEmmons.com. Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center tab.
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