The Uncomfortable Realities of Human Trafficking in Maryland

It is an uncomfortable yet important reality that human trafficking is not just an issue abroad, it is happening here in our backyard and it cannot be ignored. As Laslo Boyd discusses in his Center Maryland post, whether by way of sex trade, slave labor or one of its other forms, human trafficking has been a difficult area to track and address. Often mistakenly seen as an issue of prostitution or illegal immigration, victims of human trafficking are typically young, female and difficult to reach or recognize. But work is being done to tackle this challenging issue and help its victims. As noted in Center Maryland:

The numbers, again hard to verify, are certainly in the thousands in Maryland.  There are state, local and non-profit organizations that have started paying attention to this issue but they are neither terribly visible nor well-funded. I suspect that most of the people reading this column have never heard of any of these groups and may be totally unaware that human trafficking is even an issue in Maryland.

Last year, the Abell Foundation issue a report, “Sex Trafficking in Maryland.” The purpose was to draw attention to the issue and to encourage a public dialogue. The form of the report, less about statistics and more about concrete examples of young girls caught up in this horrible web, was an attempt to make the problem more real and less abstract.

Truck stops are, it turns out, a frequent place for sex trafficking. Lest you think in terms of stereotypes, however, hotels of all kinds are also complicit in looking the other way.

The State of Maryland since 2007 has also formalized its approach to human trafficking.  There is a Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force operating under the leadership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The key state agency involved in the effort is the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. In April, the third annual Governor’s Conference was held with a wide array of workshops.

For more information read the full post in Center Maryland.

To learn more about human trafficking and what is being done in Maryland to address the issue attend the MACo Summer Conference session “Human Trafficking: Channeling Human Services to Challenging Populations.” This session will be held in the Ocean City Convention Center on Friday, August 15 at 1:00 pm.

Learn more about MACo’s 2014 Summer Conference:

Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White with questions about Summer Conference.