Combating Human Trafficking in the Valley

By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email
By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email

HARRISONBURG, Va. -- It's not just celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith that are asking for nationwide attention to a problem that mostly goes unseen.

Republican nominee for attorney general Mark Obenshain is also taking on the subject.

He's calling for human trafficking to be made into a stand alone offense.

Many who are brought into human trafficking are lured in with money and or other promises.

"And then in return for that we see them basically used as prostitutes," said Lieutenant Chris Rush, with the Harrisonburg Police Department.

He said human trafficking is largely under reported in Harrisonburg.

So far, there have been zero reported cases, but he knows it's in our area.

"I would say the people that we've worked with are probably younger verses older," said Gianna Gariglietti who is the Executive Director for the Collins Center.

Harrisonburg Police Department is trained on how to protect and care for victims of human trafficking.

"One of the biggest things would be a piece on the counseling side and actually giving them someone to speak to," said Rush.

"I honestly think it's the fear of being prosecuted, the fear of being charged that also makes these victims of trafficking scared to come forward and that's something that their traffickers use," said Gariglietti.

She has treated victims of human trafficking here in the Valley, showing that's it's not a hidden problem.

If you or someone you know may be involved in human trafficking, you should call 911 or contact the police department and request an investigator.

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