Civic organizations in Macon County are taking a united stand to bring awareness and stop human trafficking.
The Red Sand Project is an interactive art exhibition designed to bring awareness, recognize and help to end human trafficking. The red sand in the sidewalk installations is created to show how human trafficking survivors have fallen in the cracks in society.
Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. The prevalence of human trafficking in North Carolina is due to many factors, including the major highways that run through the state (40, 85, and 95), a large, transient military population surrounded by sexually oriented businesses, numerous rural agricultural areas with a high demand for cheap labor, and an increasing number of gangs.
Human trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery, continues to remain a major public health concern. It is estimated that 40.3 million people are being trafficked worldwide. In 2020, the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified 10,583 trafficking situations. REACH of Macon County has been working with human trafficking survivors for many years but received a grant from the Governor’s Crime Commission in 2017 to expand capacity and focus more specifically on human trafficking efforts. Since that time, the agency has increased outreach, education, training, and increased capacity to record and track human trafficking survivors.
Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, however, some groups are more vulnerable due to risk factors and are targeted by traffickers. Risk factors include recent migration or relocation, substance use, mental health concerns, involvement with the child welfare system, and/or being a runaway or homeless youth.
Local Rotary Clubs along with the Zonta Club of Franklin will gather at the downtown Franklin Gazebo at 10 a.m. on July 30. The public is invited to take part in the event to help raise awareness of human trafficking.