LANSING — Sen. Judy Emmons on Thursday concluded a week focused on raising public awareness about human trafficking in Michigan, cutting off the demand, and working on a solution to stop the crime and support its victims.
“Human trafficking is a global, criminal industry that is devastating the lives of thousands of women and children every year in Michigan,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “I was proud to hold a poignant candlelight vigil at the state Capitol Wednesday night to honor the victims of human trafficking and celebrate our united effort in Michigan to stop this heinous crime.
“Trafficking victims feel alone in the dark. The vigil was about telling them: ‘You’re not alone. We are here as a light piercing the darkness — shining a light on this modern-day slavery.’”
The candlelight vigil coincided with an iEmpathize Exhibit at the Capitol, two days of Senate committee hearing on proposed legislation to combat the crime and support victims, and the welcoming of the Association of Real Men Ending the Demand (ARMED) to the Capitol. ARMED is a group of men whose goal is to protect women and children from human trafficking and sexual exploitation by pledging to end the demand. It is a division of Eve’s Angels.
“There is $80 million every day that human trafficking is bringing in, and it’s everybody’s responsibility to help end it,” said Anny Donewald, founder of Eve’s Angels. “It is time for men to step up, get educated, get armed, and commit to stopping the demand.”
Emmons welcomed Donewald and ARMED to the Capitol on Thursday at a bipartisan meeting with several senators in the office of Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe.
The meeting followed two days of hearings by the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee, chaired by Emmons, on six of the 19 recently introduced human trafficking bills.
During the week, Emmons also co-sponsored the iEmpathize Exhibit at the Capitol, offering a look into human trafficking through film, photography and artifacts. It was also sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive; Michigan Abolitionist Project; and the Metro Coalition of Congregations project of the Harriet Tubman Center.
“The iEmpathize Exhibit is an interactive and memorable experience to help people get a better understanding of the world of human trafficking,” Emmons said.