Experts say that the term “human trafficking” does not always resonate with youth or women who have been trafficked, but it is important for its legal and punitive implications.
The federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act defines trafficking as any situation “in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.” Both Love and World-Patterson agree that giving trafficking a name has been an essential step in combatting it.
“There was no name for it, no identification for girls like me,” Johnson said.
One of the task force’s primary goals is to make the Milwaukee community aware of what trafficking is.
“There’s so much of it that it’s mind-blowing,” Janick said.
Laura Johnson talks about her experience as a victim of sex trafficking.
The task force has created marketing campaigns, presented at neighborhood associations, schools and churches, and trained law enforcement and care providers about what to look for in someone being exploited in the commercial sex trade.
Claudine O’Leary, a trafficking survivor, victim advocate and one of the original five members of the task force, works with youth who have been affected by the commercial sex trade.