LEE DOMINGUE & NATALIE LABORDE, DISCUSS HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Press Release: Legal Lines with Locke Meredith

Guests Natalie Labord and Lee Domingue

Show # 131

 

Attorney, Locke Meredith, discusses the issue of human trafficking on his show Legal Lines.  Meredith interviews Natalie Labord, with Tigers Against Trafficking at LSU, and Lee Domingue, who is with Trafficking Hope. East Baton Rouge Parish has over one hundred thousand victims, being number ten in the nation in human trafficking.

First Natalie Labord talks about how she got involved in fighting human trafficking.  In the year between graduating from college and starting Law School, Labord  was working for a non-profit in Australia.  Equipped and Empowered, the non-profit she was working for decided that year to launch an anti-human trafficking initiative in Europe, specifically Greece.  That year, Labord met a twelve year-old girl, who had baby on her hip, her own child. She had been rescued from a child brothel in Cambodia by this organization.  Meeting this girl, Labord said, “Really planted something deep inside of me.”  Labord explains that she was exposed to human trafficking not only in Europe and in the far east, but all over the world. She talks about how the U.S. is one of the primary destination countries for international trafficked victims, and that we have a domestic trafficking problem, which is the prostitution/pimp dynamic.

After learning about all this, Labord decided she had to do something about this, so she started Tigers Against Trafficking.  They have had five events to date.   Two were awareness events, showing documentaries.

Now Meredith gets Domingue to tell about his involvment.  Domingue went to Greece in 2006 with Nick and Christine Cain, the couple that started and founded the A21 campaign.  After seeing first hand what was happening, Domingue was convinced he too needed to help.  He began by donating to the A21 campaign, which stands for abolishing human trafficking in the 21st century.  After a study came out by the Department of Justice saying Baton Rouge and New Orleans were in the top ten cities in the nation in human trafficking population, Domingue had to do more.  He formed Trafficking Hope, whose focus is to bring awareness in Louisiana of this huge issue.  Trafficking Hope partners with Rescue and Restore Coalition.  Rescure and Restore is a Federally funded by a grant.   The government gives about two hundred thousand dollars a year to Louisiana, specifically to these groups, to fight human trafficking.   Most of the funding is private.  Housing is a huge need right now, says Domingue.

In human trafficking, Domingue explains there are two types of victims, labor and sexual.  Domingue says that the trend is the victims tend to be the poor.  These are often foster children or children on the streets.  Statistics are that a kid will be approached by a pimp within twenty-four hours of being out on the street.   Victims have many faces, some could be a fifteen year old who is in high school.  Some could be a situation where a girl’s boyfriend is forcing her into prostitution, come could be a girl just trying to stay alive.

Domingue wants the public not to lump human trafficking with the sex trade or with sex slaving, and they regard prostitution as something lighter.  Domingue feels strongly that the two are inextricably linked, and the fact that with 70% of girls that are trafficked have pimp involved.  Domingue explains the manipulation, the abuse, and how hard it is for these girls to escape and get help.  The financial aspect of this “industry” is insane.  A pimp can make seven hundred thousand dollars a year selling some kid.  Domingue says this industry is a Thirty Two Billion Dollar industry, which would be more than Google and Starbucks combined.   Domingue wants to eradicate human trafficking by educating the public that this is not victimless crime.  These people, 20% of which are men, are in slavery.

Next the conversation turns toward labor slavery.  Forced domestic servitude.  Often this is in the form of children from Mexico or somewhere in Central America, brought to America with promise of employment, and then never paid, and treated like a criminal.  Next Meredith asks how to spot a victim of sexual trafficking.  What are the tell-tale signs? Domingue explains that they will often have poor English, a chaperone who wont leave her side, and signs of physical abuse.

Meredith brings up the issue of reporting sexual trafficking to law enforcement, and the possibility of people calling out others as child molesters, with or without proper evidence.   Domingue responds by saying that the main problem with human trafficking has been silence.

To help fight all this injustice, Tigers Against Traffic is handing out contact cards, maintaing a toy supply, and expanding to other college campuses.  Trafficking Hope has been pushing awareness of this for five years now through billboards especially.  People are now starting to come together to form a coalition.  The Sheriff’s association has formed a task force, Healing Place Church has partnered in this fight, and others as well.  Faces of Hope gala is one venue of fundraising Domingue has been a part of.   Domingue stresses the long-term commitment required to this fight.  Go to traffickinghope.org or google Tigers Against Trafficking to learn more about how to help.

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