FAIRBURY, NE – The Women’s Center for Advancement from Omaha stopped at Fairbury’s Bonham Theatre on Wednesday night to give a 90-minute presentation on human trafficking in Nebraska, focusing on awareness, prevention and victim assistance.
The session was largely sponsored and organized by the Fairbury Community Foundation.
“We wanted to let our community know what’s really going on in Nebraska,” Fairbury Community Foundation President Don Cook said. “A lot of people don’t read the paper anymore, a lot of people don’t understand what human trafficking is, or how it affects the state of Nebraska. So, we just wanted to get some community awareness going.”
The keynote speaker was Sara Eliason – the Prevention Education Manager from WCA in Omaha. She gave a similar presentation in Geneva earlier this year, and gives anywhere from 1-6 presentations per week about human trafficking.
“We really just need to make sure people know this is a problem in their communities,” Eliason said. “That’s the first step to being able to create change so that it isn’t a problem anymore.
WCA is partnered with the Hope Crisis Center, which has locations in Fairbury, Beatrice, Crete, Seward and York. The Hope Crisis Center provides necessary resources to assist victims of trafficking and other forms of abuse.
The Crisis Center, along with WCA, are in a group of 20 total agencies that make up the Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
“We support survivors in all of our different communities,” Eliason said. “We all really try and work together to make sure that no one falls through the gaps, and to make sure that we’re able to share our different knowledge on what’s happening across the state.”
Facts/stats to know about human trafficking:
- Human trafficking is defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as modern-day slavery involving the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Anyone under the age of 18 engaged in commercial sex is a victim of trafficking, per federal law.
- Up to 900 people are trafficked monthly in the U.S. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 36 cases of human trafficking have been reported in Nebraska this year as of 2018. Up to 900 people in Nebraska every month are sold for sex online.
- Those who see signs of trafficking can call the National Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.