LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and Saturday was Human Trafficking Prevention Awareness Day.
A proclamation made by President Trump defines human trafficking as “a modern form of slavery," including forced labor and sexual exploitation.
The Knights of Peter Claver and the Ladies Auxillary hosted their first CASTing call in the Lake Charles Sacred Heart Catholic Church, about human trafficking.
“The CASTing call is social justice, community awareness summit talks," said Jackie Simien-Guillory, Social Justice and Community Service Captain for the Church. “We’re going to have different talks on different initiatives all year long, but today was the perfect day with Human trafficking, to start off in the blue of things.”
At the CASTing call, advocates and law enforcement spoke educating those in attendance about the issue.
“I would say we probably have had in the last two years true sex trafficking cases that we have been able to identify, probably less than 10," said Gene Pittman, Speaker, and Commander over Investigations for the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office. “You know, now some of that may be a reporting issue, you know, victims may not feel comfortable.”
One of the most common ways it starts, according to Pittman is through years of grooming.
“The thing with grooming is that at some point, the victim feels as though, this is right," Pittman said. "Their sense of morality has been so skewed, that now they believe that what they’re doing is the way it ought to be.”
If you are a victim of human trafficking, Pittman says to reach out to law enforcement whatever way you can.