Task Force Members Tackle “Bad Data and Bad Guys”

Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force members Bridgette Carr and Jane White (Executive Director) are featured in this month’s Bridge Magazine. In an article titled, “Human Trafficking fight plagued by bad data, as well as bad guys” Carr and White address the scope of human trafficking in Michigan and misconceptions about the crime.

Explore the excerpts below and then read the entire article here

More common than a young woman being kidnapped from airport taxi stand or shopping malls, a more common sex trade victim according to Carr, “would be a woman of any age, living a full life of poor choices or simple bad luck, stuck with a pimp who may beat her, control her access to the drugs she’s addicted to, or simply string her along with a bunch of empty promises. She may not even realize she’s been trafficked, and she may return to her trafficker after she’s been freed.”

“Something bigger or scarier happens in the trafficking world when stories like (the “Taken” myth) are told, Carr said. If you don’t match that origin story – if you’re poor, black, made bad choices, used drugs, are homeless etc. – then you are just a prostitute. (The kidnapped young woman from the movies) is a victim, (but the more common, often less sympathetic women) are a prostitute. That translates into how law enforcement treats my clients.

The result: when a woman as a criminal rather than a victim, she is less likely to be offered shelter or other resources to help her exit a life she may not have freely chosen, Carr said.”

According to Jane White, “the three magic words of human trafficking are simple: Want A Job…It’s enough to attract both the ambitious and desperate, followed by the promise of some gain down the road – money, usually, but sometimes more ambiguous promises of love, commitment, family. Activists say that trafficking happens when the promise isn’t fulfilled.”

“White, at MSU, wishes the conversation around trafficking was less about sex and more about what she sees as the complicity of the rest of the world in forced or unfair labor. 

When you buy five blouses for $60 what does that tell you about the people who made them? The chocolate industry uses child slave labor. Does the global issue impact me? Yes, it does, White said. These are supply-chain issues. They should be taught in business schools.”