By Maria Cook
Many people regard human trafficking as a crime akin to modern slavery. It involves exploiting a person, through force or coercion, for the purposes of forced labor, marriage, extraction of organs and tissues, or sexual exploitation.
Misconceptions about the crime persist, including that human trafficking only happens in faraway places. Human trafficking, however, happens in the United States, including in seemingly safe communities.
On Aug. 15, Carmel Masonic Lodge No. 421 will conduct an event to bring awareness to human trafficking. Carmel Lodge Junior Deacon Robh Zuniga said lodge members began discussing the need for raising community awareness of human trafficking last year. The event will feature several speakers and a multimedia presentation.
“Public misconception persists that human trafficking could or would never occur in a growing, upscale community such as Carmel,” Zuniga said. “Human traffickers want that mindset and community ignorance to prevail, as it helps their ability to move and operate freely within our municipality.”
The event will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but attendees must RSVP by contacting Carmel Masonic Lodge No. 421 at CarmelLodge421@gmail.com. In the event that RSVP numbers are larger than Carmel Masonic Lodge No. 421 can accommodate, two additional venues, which have not yet been named, will be used to ensure there will be room for everyone who RSVPs.
“Our membership consists of civil service employees, military service members and veterans, first responders and business executives, all dedicated to serving our communities,” Zuniga said. “It’s certainly a topic that hits home for many of us and we hope our Carmel residents will be a part of the initiative in August to be the eyes and ears in keeping our communities safe.”