Why human trafficking is a serious — but mostly invisible — problem in Alaska

A new federal effort targets a related problem — the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women and girls. Will that help curb trafficking?

Kimberly Larson remembers the first time she was approached by human traffickers.

She was 12 years old, walking downtown in Anchorage, and strangers pulled over to ask if she wanted a meal at Wendy’s. They asked where she was living, what she needed.

“They were looking for a young girl to exploit,” she told ArcticToday. It didn’t work. The strangers’ oddly familiar questions set off alarm bells for Larson, and she kept walking.

By the time Larson reached her forties, she thought she was out of the danger zone. She had a home, a husband, three kids. She was no longer that young, vulnerable-looking girl. But Larson’s life wasn’t as stable as it seemed. She started drinking too much, then doing drugs.

“Everything went sour,” she said. She split up with her husband and began living with a boyfriend, who was soon exploiting her. When she left him, she had nowhere to live, so she began sleeping on her coworker’s couch. Then she lost her job.

She was homeless, jobless, addicted to drugs and alcohol. Just when she thought she couldn’t get any lower, she met the man who would eventually be convicted of trafficking her and several other women. Read more at ArcticToday.

Categories: Freelance Articles

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