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Gov. Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards Announce New Human Trafficking Statewide Public Awareness Campaign and Resource Center Website

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Gov. John Bel Edwards

Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards joined by First Lady Donna Edwards and Dr. Dana Hunter, officially announced Louisiana’s first Human Trafficking Prevention Resource Center and advocacy campaign. Through these efforts, victims, survivors, service providers, stakeholders and citizens will be able to learn about human trafficking, how to identify when someone needs help, how to report this heinous crime and about more specific services for victims. The campaign, Stop Trafficking LA: Human Trafficking is R.E.A.L. The R.E.A.L stands for Recognizing the signs, Educating others, Acting immediately, and Listening to victims and survivors.

“Eradicating human trafficking, preventing any more suffering and helping survivors regain control of their lives is something that Donna and I are committed to achieving,” said Gov. Edwards. Thanks to Donna using her platform as well as the state legislators, I am proud to say that our efforts here in Louisiana are making a difference and we’re gaining national and international attention about the need to educate people about this heinous crime. I’m grateful to Dr. Dana Hunter for leading our new Office of Human Trafficking Prevention. She has demonstrated a strong commitment and expertise in programs and practices to help those who are vulnerable. Under her leadership, Louisiana has secured nearly 2.7 million federal dollars to improve outcomes for child and youth victims of human trafficking. And with this new website, I’m confident our efforts will continue to connect resources with those who need them and help us fight this scourge on our society.”

Over the last several years, there have been nearly 21 million victims identified across the world. These are children and adults, primarily women, of all different backgrounds. According to the International Labor Organization, profits are estimated at $150 billion dollars a year. Louisiana has two of the worst corridors for trafficking: Interstates 10 and 20. The good news is that we also have some of the toughest anti-trafficking laws in the nation.

First Lady Donna Edwards has established a national coalition for the prevention of human sex trafficking that includes six first spouses who have committed to using their platforms to educate the public as well. They are: First Lady Cecilia Abbott of Texas; First Lady Susan Hutchinson of Arkansas; First Lady Marty Kemp of Georgia; First Lady Tracey Quillen-Carney of Delaware; First Lady Elee Reeves of Mississippi; First Lady Britainy Beshear of Kentucky.

The coalition’s first big event is The R.E.A.L public awareness campaign, which will be held in April during the NCAA Men’s Final Four Championship tournament in New Orleans. More information on the educational campaign and resources to help identify and report cases of human trafficking are available at www.stoptraffickingla.com

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and we hope to educate the general public and deter trafficking activity during this major sporting event, which is often the perfect environment for this crime to flourish,” said First Lady Donna Edwards. “I’m incredibly proud of the work my husband has done to make Louisiana tough on the perpetrators of this terrible crime and helping to establish a safe haven to help survivors restore their lives. I believe if we can make an effort to do each of these action steps, together, we can end human trafficking.”

Latest Trafficking Data from Dept. of Children and Family Services:

In 2020, there were 759 victims reported, a figure we suspect was suppressed due to the pandemic
94% were either sex trafficking victims or labor-and-sex trafficking victims
Victims’ ages ranged from 2 months to 63 years, with 93 sex trafficking victims age 12 or under
In fact, 7 out of 10 of the reported victims were juveniles
Gov. Edwards has appointed Dr. Dana Hunter to lead the Office of Human Trafficking Prevention, which was created under Act of 352 of the 2021 legislative session. Prior to this, Dr. Hunter served as executive director of the Louisiana Children’s Cabinet. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in dealing with those who are most at risk of becoming trafficking victims.

“I am also deeply honored that Gov. Edwards has entrusted me to lead this office and our statewide efforts to address this crime,” said Dr. Hunter. “I stand daily with leaders and survivors across this state to implement the best programs and practices to prevent and combat human trafficking and to promote justice and healing for victims and survivors. This is the mission of the Office of Human Trafficking Prevention. That is why I’m so pleased that we have implemented the very first web-based human trafficking prevention resource center. his will truly help save more lives.”

The theme and logo for the new website is the Koi fish, which was provided by a trafficking survivor. It is a Japanese symbol used in Japanese art and culture which stands for courage, resilience, perseverance and facing trials boldly.

To learn more about human trafficking visit the Human Trafficking Prevention Resource Center of Louisiana at HumanTrafficking.la.gov and to learn more about the statewide public awareness campaign visit StopTraffickingla.com.

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