Tami S. Zimmerman at CNYLink interviews Elisa Morales of Vera House and compares real-life trafficking to what we see in movies like the 2007 film, Trade:
“Those movies (about trafficking) are pretty true depictions of what trafficking is, what actually happens, how it works… and it’s not exaggerated,” said Elisa Morales, who works for Vera House in DeWitt. “If anything, it’s under exaggerated.”
Vera House is one of several agencies that offer help to victims through services, shelter and advocacy; another go-to agency is Catholic Charities. Recently, members on the Syracuse Area Domestic and Sexual Violence Coalition (staffed by Vera House), have also formed an anti-trafficking task force.
Last year in the US, up to 17,000 people were trafficked into this country, Morales said. About 80 percent were women and children. A lucrative business, the crime yields at least $9 billion each year in the US.
“It’s extremely profitable [and] has exceeded the weapons trafficking in the world,” Morales said. “It’s very close to exceeding the drug trafficking in the world.”
Last month, the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse hosted a skit and panel discussion that focused on modern-day forms of slavery. The event, which involved advocates from groups such as the Farm Worker Legal Services and the International Victim Program (a collaborative project between Hiscock Legal Aid and Vera House), coincided with National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
“Being vigilant is smart,” said Morales, emphasizing the importance of educating oneself on this topic. “It’s modern day slavery. Human trafficking does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.”