MACON, Georgia ( 41NBC/WMGT) – According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 128 human trafficking cases were reported in Georgia this year.
A local service club in Macon is hoping to change those numbers by shining a light on the problem.
It’s an issue that has been going on for quite some time.
“I believe it’s so critical that we no longer stay silent but speak out and voice out for those who are voiceless,” says Sylvia Yu Friedman who is an anti-trafficking activist.
Sylvia Yu Friedman is on a journey to spread awareness on human trafficking. She stopped in Macon to speak at a luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club of Downtown Macon.
Atlanta is one of the largest hubs for human tracking in the country, and with Macon being so close to that area, she wants people in Middle Georgia to also stay alert.
She adds, “Awareness is key because people cannot care about an issue they know nothing about.”
Yu Friedman spoke to dozens of community members about ways to prevent human trafficking and the benefits of knowing the risks.
“When people are aware, it can also prevent more or other vulnerable girls and boys and people in marginalized, poor communities from being deceived into slavery-like situations,” she explains.
Some of the ways to determine if an individual has been part of an operation is to ask questions.
“Are you under the control of someone else? Are you being forced to do things against your will and is this person threatening to hurt you or your family members,” Yu Friedman explains.
These questions will allow victims to speak up. If their voices aren’t heard, the numbers of victims may increase.
Organizers hope this presentation is an eye opener for the community.
“We want to help Macon, help the Middle Georgia area understand what the problems are and how it can be prevented,” Ed Davis, President, Rotary Club of Downtown Macon says.
Anyone who suspects human trafficking activities should call the Polaris Project Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.