Pittsburgh sex trafficking on the rise

Marissa Pekular, West Hills Editor

Last month, Pittsburgh was named one of the top ten U.S. cities where human trafficking is most prevalent. This crime is widespread across nation, being that the United States was ranked one of the of the world’s worst places for human trafficking in 2018.
In fact, it is estimated that the number of human trafficking cases ranges in the hundreds of thousands. Unfortunately, western Pennsylvanians are no exception to this epidemic.
In an interview with Connect FM, Rep. Matt Dowling assured the public that due to the prevalence of sex trafficking in this area, the House of Representatives is currently working on a number of bills that would strengthen standing laws against human trafficking and give victims better ability to testify in court.
This acknowledgement from government legislatures is necessary as the number of cases continues to grow. For example, in 2012, there were 91 reported cases of human or sex trafficking in Pennsylvania. However, in 2018, 275 cases were recorded, but it is estimated that there may be many more unreported incidents of this crime.
Last summer, several Pittsburgh locations were raided in an investigation of a sex trafficking ring. Officials reported searching the locations in Turtle Creek, Carnegie, Jeannette, Bridgeville, Erie and McKees Rocks that were in connection to this ring.
Anyone can fall victim to this crime, however, there are specific populations that are specifically at risk. Worldwide, females make up 70 percent of human trafficking victims. Many times in the U.S, predators will target young women and force them into sexual slavery or other labor domestically or abroad.
Also, young children are typically fall victim to human trafficking as they are many times vulnerable or defenseless. Lastly, undocumented individuals and homeless people are also preyed upon.
One of the most commonly used tactics by sex traffickers to lure people is internet stalking and communication. Many times, predators will target minors through means of social media and other online vehicles. Also, young women are targeted in situations when they are alone. There are hundreds of ways for sex trafficking predators to steal a person, so it necessary to always be vigilant.