Group brings awareness to human trafficking in Hampton Roads as AG Herring expands resources to the region

Can You See Us
Posted at 11:12 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 23:16:30-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Across the world, millions of people are being trafficked. Airports are a popular hub for human trafficking.

Because of this, a global non-profit group is putting up "Can You See Me?" ads around the region, hoping to bring human trafficking to an end.

"What is happening with nearly 40 million humans around the world is modern day slavery,” said Mollie Thorsen.

Thorsen is the U.S. advocacy director for A21, a global anti-human trafficking non-profit organization.

"In the movies, we typically see trafficking as someone being kidnapped or taken, but the majority of the cases that's not the instance,” Thorsen adds.

She says human trafficking comes in different forms and is happening right in our backyards.

"It's people that are being held against their will, and they are being forced to do things they don’t want to do."

The "Can You See Me?" campaign is now visible in the region at airports and on major highways.

"It shows different scenarios of human trafficking. It shows domestic servitude, agricultural labor trafficking, sex trafficking, child exploitation,” Thorsen adds.

She says the community plays a huge role in combating trafficking, starting with knowing the signs.

"One common characteristic with a trafficker is that they prey on vulnerable people,” she adds.

To help catch those predators, Attorney General Mark Herring is expanding the Hampton Roads human trafficking task force.

“Hampton Roads has an international airport; it has ports; it has access to interstates. These are places that human traffickers tend to be able to operate in,” said Herring.

A $525,000 grant will go towards additional resources for agencies and prosecutors in Williamsburg, Smithfield, Northampton County and other localities.

For more information on the grant and how it will expand resources, click here.

"We always love hearing that financial support on a local level really expands into a global action,” Thorsen adds.

Action that can only happen if people in the community know what human trafficking may look like.

"If people don't have identification; if they are with someone who tends to answer and speak on their behalf or if they look malnutrition or in need of medical treatment,” adds Herring.

Thorsen wants people to know that trafficking doesn’t just happen outside - it can also happen right in your home.

Related: Sex trafficking expert says COVID-19 is hurting victims and making it more difficult to get help

She says children are more vulnerable right now during COVID-19 because they are online more.

"Monitor your children online. Make sure you are paying attention to what is happening and what your children are looking at,” Thorsen adds.