Kylla Lanier, Deputy Director of Truckers Against Trafficking:
What are the most effective ways to combat human trafficking?
I think the most effective way to combat it is to prevent it in the first place...get involved in your community: mentor, tutor, help, befriend at-risk youth, support your local food banks...where there are vulnerabilities, traffickers are preying. So help lessen the vulnerabilities and you help prevent this heinous crime from ever happening. For the trafficking already occurring...on the sex trafficking side, we must go after demand while at the same time providing viable opportunities and education for those who would become the supply. Attack it from both sides. On the labor trafficking side, demand clean supply chains from manufacturers, buy fair trade and local as much as possible, examine your own purchasing habits and change them if necessary. No matter what you do to fight it, be specific. Be intentional. Be focused, and STAY THE COURSE! Don't try to be all things to everyone. Don't reinvent the wheel. Understand the topic. It is complex, and you need to keep learning.
What is your most rewarding or memorable experience combatting human trafficking?
Hearing the stories of victims being recovered based on truckers' calls to the national hotline and 911. Knowing that they are receiving help or are back with their families, and are now living free lives because truckers saw something, recognized it was "off" and made the call! I LOVE the trucking industry. They are driving change in this fight, and TAT is so proud to partner with them!
Was there an event or situation in your life that spurred your passion for this cause?
Back in 2007, my mom sent my sisters and I the book, Not for Sale by David Batstone....it opened our eyes to the realities of human trafficking around the world and here in the US. We were incensed, and we knew we had to do something!
What are some of the biggest issues leading to the continuing of human trafficking in your community?
There are a myriad of reasons human trafficking continues to thrive in our communities and around the world and it would take a book or two to elaborate...but in the end it all boils down to an abuse of power. When those of us with privilege and power, and by that I mean anyone who has any position of authority or relative power or standing in a community or more of a voice, etc. use it to exploit others either overtly or just through an acceptance of societal or cultural norms that deprive some of education or opportunities or value, we allow slavery to exist and grow. When my desire for a certain purse is more important than the exploited worker who made it in slave-like conditions, I abuse my privilege and power. When my desire for sex is more important than the person who is forced to sell it to me, I abuse my privilege and power. When I see someone who has some kind of vulnerability: addiction, familial instability, abuse in their background, immigrant status, youth, poverty, low self-esteem, and I seek to enrich myself by exploiting those things, I abuse my power and privilege. And when we as a larger society accept these acts and this imbalance of power and accept disposable classes of people as "inevitable" or "not our problem" or when we don't even think about it at all, this is why we have human trafficking.
How do you think the average person could get involved in combating human trafficking?
Educate yourself! Then look for already existing groups in your area and get involved. Ask them what they need, and get in there and tackle it. You are important to this movement. Ask your local law enforcement what they need when they encounter trafficking victims...do they need clothes, toiletries, etc. Do a supply drive for that. Work with your at-risk schools to tutor and mentor kids. If you want to start your own initiative, research what ISN'T being done, and plug in there. Donate to already existing groups that are making an impact. Raise awareness within your sphere of influence. There are so many things you can do...the doing is the most important. Get involved. It will take all of us!
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