Violence, human trafficking among topics at annual conference

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SALT LAKE CITY – Tough topics ranging from domestic violence to human trafficking were under discussion Thursday at a conference at the Capitol.

Local and national experts presented information at the Annual Crime Victim’s Conference, which focused on ways to help victims of violent and sexual crimes.

One of the major topics under discussion was human trafficking, as it is estimated that thousands of underage girls are sold into sexual slavery each year in the U.S.

Capt. Fernado Rivero of the Unified Fire Authority and Utah Trafficking and Persons Task Force said, despite what many people may think, slavery is not an issue of the past.

“The really heinous thing about human trafficking, it is a basic human and civil rights violation,” Rivero said. “People are held in slavery, so we thought we did away with slavery in the 1800s: We haven’t. It’s back, and it’s a big industry. It’s second only to the illegal drug trade.”

Rivero said human trafficking is a $32 billion industry worldwide and $10 billion industry in the U.S. He said in the U.S. “anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 girls are sold for sex annually, about 50,000 underage girls are brought into the U.S. for the purpose of sexual slavery every year, and this is based on a demand.”

Experts discussed ways to better identify and battle human sex trafficking operations by using state, federal and community resources. Other speakers touched on topics like breaking the cycle of violence against women and children and helping families cope after violent crimes.

For more information about the Utah Office for Victims of Crime, including information about resources for victims, click here.