Editorial: Incentive plan to drive out an industry

Mar. 13, 2013 @ 03:16 PM

As our calendar year passes through, remembrances of special events happening 150 and 50 years ago are at the forefront of many minds. They’re tied to slavery and the civil rights movement, respectively.

For all those gains, however, underground networking has left our state eighth-worst on a list we’d rather not be on at all. Young women and girls are being taken in our state, being forced to have sex with strangers in exchange for cash. It is an industry, an illegal one already, and it is big business.

North Carolina is ripe to be such a home. We have nine intersections of our state border with interstates, plus major ports. Our eight military bases include three for the Marines, two Air Force, two Coast Guard and one Army. And we can be accurately described as having a significant transient quality in our workforce.

According to the N.C. Coalition Against Human Trafficking, we’re in the top 10 for human trafficking in the U.S.

There are a number of groups working against human trafficking, and now a New Hanover County Republican is trying to add tougher penalties for true culprits in the trade.

Most people think of human trafficking and believe it happens in poorer countries, or involves something that doesn’t happen in their community. Sadly, it happens in more places than we might think.

N.C. Stop Human Trafficking has groups located in Durham and Chapel Hill, plus Wilmington, Greenville, Fayetteville, Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte and Asheville, as well as on the campuses of Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, N.C. State and UNC Charlotte.

The organization works through a model striving for prevention, advocacy, victim services, education and awareness. Individuals, community-based and faith-based organizations, government and non-government entities work to stop human trafficking on all levels.

Senate Bill 122, the Sex Trafficking/Sex Offender Registration act, would force those convicted of human trafficking of children under the age of 18 to register as sex offenders and be monitored by GPS. It has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Human trafficking is a real problem, even if not easily seen. It is one industry where our state’s incentive plan has to be to drive it away.