Voice of Hope educates LARW on human trafficking and how to help - FOX34 Lubbock

Voice of Hope educates LARW on human trafficking and how to help fight it

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Human sex trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal activity in the world. It's a $32 billion dollar a year business globally and has more profits than Starbucks, Nike and Google combined.

The south plains is not immune to it, as $6.6 billion of that profit is in Texas.

On Thursday, the Lubbock Area Republican Women learned to join the front lines against predators and help save lives.

"Today's program is one I didn't want to have but of course, we need to have it because it deals with sex trafficking," Deanne Clark, VP of LARW said. "I'm sorry to say that Lubbock plays a part in that."

Leslie Timmons was the guest speaker on behalf of Voice of Hope, Lubbock Rape Crisis Center. 

"Last year, we assisted on 456 cases and 60 of those cases involved sex trafficking."

Voice of Hope has fought trafficking since 2011, but Timmons said recent cases have more people talking about it than ever before.

"Certainly the Jeffrey Epstein case shines a spotlight on the issue," she said. "Everybody is just now realizing that it's a problem everywhere and not just in big cities, and here in west Texas we have to talk about it and educate people on what's going on here."

A 2016 study showed there are about 313,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas. 79,000 of those are minors, and Timmons says that number has not decreased. 

"The more I read about this, it just turns your stomach and there's so many vulnerable girls, and men and boys are apart of it also," Clark said.

As a society, Timmons said we must learn to speak up about this issue.

"If you see a young woman or male with an older, domineering, controlling person and it doesn't seem right to you, say something," she said. 

Other indicators may be tattoos or branding, inability to make eye contact and history of abuse.

"It's another one of those things that you learn about, and you hate, but you think what in the world can we do?" Clark said. "Lets be informed about it and lets go after it."

Sharing information about human trafficking on social media is one helpful way to bring more awareness to it. 

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