BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Human trafficking is a $32 billion criminal industry in the US and abroad, but one group in south Louisiana is hoping to stamp it out.
Statistics show it is a crime that sucks one child into its cycle every 30 seconds.
"As the mother of two small little girls, there's no issue that's more important than protecting children from a life of sex trafficking," said Melissa Landry.
Trafficking Hope started in 2007 to raise awareness and provide ways to rescue victims of human sex trafficking in the Baton Rouge area. The group partnered with another organization for an event this week aimed at shedding more light on this growing problem.
"When a girl's being trafficked, they're not getting the finances for that; that's going to their trafficker," said Tiffany Dupree with Trafficking Hope. "Yes, girls are in prostitution and that's their choice. But really, the majority of them are in it by force and manipulation. It really is so cruel to what these girls have to experience."
Dupree added Louisiana is on the cutting edge when it comes to laws against trafficking. Gov. Bobby Jindal recently asked for legislation for tougher punishment for traffickers and johns and making it easier for victims to get help. Dupree said the changes have helped the state's rating go from a C, as far as anti-trafficking laws are concerned, to an A-minus.