Conference aims to combat human trafficking in West Michigan

Grand Rapids hosts human trafficking prevention conference

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Human trafficking continues to be a growing problem throughout the United States and here in Michigan.

An international group, based out of West Michigan, is working to help protect women and children from becoming victims. That group is Women at Risk International, also known as WAR.

Outreach and education are among the top weapons in WAR's arsenal.

Today, July 20, members are holding a one-day human trafficking conference at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown. During the day-long session, they're hoping to educate those in Michigan's tourism and hospitality industries in particular.

Data suggests, Michigan has seen a 16 percent in increase in the number of cases in recent years. Those numbers also have Michigan ranked number two in the nation for human trafficking, behind only Nevada.

According to WAR, hotels and motels, in both rural and urban areas, are prime locations for trafficking activity. This is especially true during prime tourism months and during events that attract large crowds.

Some of the things that will be discussed during the all-day conference, include:

  • What should hotel staff be on the lookout for?
  • Who to contact if it is suspected that human trafficking is happening?
  • Why we should people care about this growing crime?

One obvious response to that last point is the fact that 40 percent of human trafficking cases involve underage victims. In this country, between 100,000 and 300,000 children are sold for sex each year.

The conference will be held Thursday, July 20 from 9 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. Space is Limited. Cost is $35 per person and registration is required.

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