HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania is considered a “hot spot” for human trafficking, and the pandemic has made it harder to fight it. A local organization is trying to bring awareness to the issues, while also making sure survivors have a place to go.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a new task force to prevent human trafficking. Its mission is to focus on prevention and intervention efforts.
“11,500 situations of human trafficking were identified in the United States in 2019,” said Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Pennsylvania ranks 12th on the list for most reported cases per state, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Greenlight Operation is an anti-human trafficking organization.
“Our mission is to turn red-light districts into green-light districts, which are places free from sexual exploitation and human trafficking,” said Jordan Pine, Founder, and CEO of Greenlight Operation.
Right now, Pennsylvania is a “hot spot” for human trafficking.
“Trafficking is happening here and it looks different in each community and we are currently in a hub for this issue,” said Pine.
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The pandemic has made the issue worse, with more trafficking moving online.
“For traffickers, they can sit in the comfort of their home and be grooming 20 individuals at a time without even leaving their house,” said Pine.
In 2020, the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified 350 victims of human trafficking in Pennsylvania. Greenlight Operation wants to make sure they have somewhere to go.
“There is an extreme gap of services available to survivors of human trafficking,” said Pine.
The organization is in the process of opening a long-term restoration home for up to eight women at a time. It will offer trauma therapy, life skills coaching, and education.
“The ultimate goal is that we’ll meet them where they’re at in their story of healing, walk with them through that healing process, and at the point of graduation from our program, we want to set them up so they can live independent and sustainable lifestyles,” said Pine.
Greenlight Operation hopes to have the home up and running in 2023. The home will be in the Midstate but because of security reasons, an exact location cannot be named.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1 (888) 373-7888. You can also visit Greenlight Operation’s website here.