Plan to fight human trafficking: Reduce demand

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS/WOOD) — It was a meeting of the minds Tuesday at the Michigan Attorney General’s office that included victims’ advocates, law enforcement, medical professionals and government officials working to figure out what can be done to attack human trafficking in Michigan.

The Human Trafficking Commission has been active for a year and meets quarterly with the goal of improving the lives of victims and curbing trafficking it in the future.

At the commission’s Tuesday meeting, King County (Wash.) Senior Deputy Prosecutor Valiant Richey talked about how his office has teamed up with search engines like Google and Bing to try to curb the problem in his region, which includes Seattle. Those sites will generate ads aimed at deterring someone who appears to be trying to buy sex and also populate their search with services that might help them change their behavior.

Human Trafficking Commission Vice Chair and Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said the Michigan agency is preparing a similar plan that would distribute Internet ads describing the consequences of buying sex. If the victim is a child, the ads warn, the person paying for sex can be prosecuted, serve prison time and have to register as a sex offender. Additionally, the crime of human trafficking is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

People at the meeting also learned about what is called the commercial sex ecosystem that includes supply, demand and distribution. That’s the dynamic Leyton said must be attacked, according to WOOD TV8’s Lansing sister station, WLNS.

“Our idea is to reduce the demand so that the supply side also gets reduced. There’s far too many individuals seeking sex in Michigan and so what we want to do is want to reduce that side of it and we think it will help us take human trafficking and help it get it under control,” he said.

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The original version of this article appeared on WLNS.com.

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