North Dakotans Work to End Human Trafficking

Bismarck - Forced to work, without pay, and without a voice.

But now more North Dakotans are lending theirs to a global problem that's hitting close to home.

They don't all look the same.

"It's not just sex trafficking that's going on it's also labor trafficking and we have both happening right here in North Dakota," Stacy Shaffer, 31:8 Project says.

But all victims of human trafficking are subject to the same struggle, living in the shadows.

"It's a global issue that's ongoing and sex and labor trafficking is happening here," Brandi Jude, Invisible Innocence founder says.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, since 2007, North Dakota has been home to more than 200 human trafficking calls, 85 cases, and more than 95 victims.

And one activist says that's only the cases that have been reported.

"You think about the industries that attract labor trafficking that'd be agriculture, hotels, restaurants, manufacturing, and we have all of those industries," Jude says.

Creating what can be a perfect storm for abuse.

"And because we are economically growing, there's a higher demand for workers and cheaper, and cheaper labor," Jude says.

But there are red flags you can spot.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there are signs you can look out for including few personal possessions, working abnormally long hours, or signs of physical restraint or abuse.

"But if we know how to start handling it, and we take the right steps forward, we'll be able to combat it," Shaffer says.

Educating others and starting the conversation where you live.

"We really have to talk about it within our homes, withing out peer groups, so that people are listening and being more aware of their surroundings," Jude says.

Awareness for a global problem while bringing the message home.

Activists say when it comes to human trafficking, large events like The Big Game can attract more human trafficking to an area.

If you notice any suspicious activity you should contact your local law enforcement or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline for help at  1(888) 373 -7888.

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