LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — To help raise awareness about human trafficking and sexual exploitation in communities across the Commonwealth, anti-human trafficking nonprofit, Hope Inspire Love, hosted the Freedom Walk.

Hundreds gathered on Saturday, Oct. 2, in Musser Park at 11:00 a.m. for the walk.

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According to the press release, the nonprofit is focused on raising awareness in Lancaster, Reading, York, Lebanon, Lititz, Manheim, Myerstown, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia.

Organizers say we can no longer ignore the violence and sexual exploitation that women, men, and children experience here in Pennsylvania, throughout the nation, and worldwide.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline has reported that Pennsylvania received 271 reported cases of human trafficking in 2019. According to the hotline’s statistics, this puts Pennsylvania at ninth in the United States with the most human trafficking cases.

“People need to understand that this is happening in their own backyard and it is happening to children and young adults and a lot of times they think it is from people they don’t know, but they are with us and we want people to be aware, spot the signs, and make a difference in someone’s life,” Amy Thurston, president of Hope Inspire Love, said.

Those who attended walked a 2.5-mile radius around the city in silence, holding signs to share “a message that can’t be ignored: human trafficking and modern-day slavery still exist.” At the end of the walk, representatives from Hope Inspire Love and other organizations will share about the work being done in local communities.

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