Human-Trafficking: Closer To Home Than You Think

Oped by Rep. Barbara Wheeler.

Last fall, I reported progress on halting an appalling practice that is much closer to home than most of us realize, human-trafficking. Human-trafficking is a modern-day version of slavery that is thriving in the United States and sadly, in some our own communities. Every day, human beings are bought, sold, or smuggled so that others can profit from their forced labor or sexual servitude. While every state criminalizes at least some forms of trafficking activity, legislators across the nation continue to explore new ways to combat traffickers and provide support for victims.

Most of us are unaware, but human-trafficking is a lucrative business right here in northern Illinois. In this area, human traffickers are using the massage parlor industry as a cover and method for connecting sex-trade customers with mostly East Asian women, both documented and undocumented, who are being forced to perform sex acts. Operators of these parlors locate in communities where zoning laws do not specifically address licensure, lighting, dress codes, and hours of operation for massage parlors. Read more.