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By Karla Pomeroy
Editor 

Riding for human trafficking victims

Manderson woman makes her way around Wyoming to raise awareness

 

July 4, 2019

Karen Fettig

Karen Fettig of Manderson has her horse trailer decked out in messages to bring awareness to human trafficking as she makes her way from the Montana border to the Colorado border this month.

MANDERSON - Manderson resident and activist Karen Fettig began making her way around Wyoming last week to raise awareness around the state about human trafficking and its victims.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline website, "Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will. Force, fraud, or coercion need not be present if the individual engaging in commercial sex is under 18 years of age."

Fettig has been working to raise awareness regarding human trafficking in the United States and Wyoming for the past 15 years. She said she read an article about a labor trafficking victim in Colorado where a rancher was not taking care of his help, specifically one sheepherder.

She said she also knows someone whose sister was a victim of sex trafficking at the hands of her husband.

"I think [human trafficking] is getting worse, maybe because of the media, social networking makes it easy. Human traffickers can make millions off just a few women," Fettig said.

While she has been trying to bring awareness on and off the past 15 years, the past six years her focus has been on "how we should protect our kids in Wyoming, especially our young girls." She has conducted several informational seminars around the Big Horn Basin including two in Worland.

"My focus is how do we educate parents and kids. I want to bring human trafficking awareness to our communities," she said.

"There's still a lot of naivete about human trafficking. People are not aware it happens here," Fettig said.

Fettig said sex traffickers are convincing, they are patient, they know exactly how to talk to young girls to get them to do what they want.

"They are predatory; they know when to make their move."

Fettig said any time there is a large crowd such as Cheyenne Frontier Days, Cody Stampede Rodeo, those

Fettig said she felt led to do more than just seminars and began planning this summer to make a trek around Wyoming with her mules April and John and donkeys Festus and Sweetheart.

She has a horse trailer that is vinyl-wrapped to bring awareness. The art includes a trafficking victim with a tattoo or rather a brand with a barcode. It depicts a young boy playing an online video game, one way Fettig said traffickers use to reach out to male victims.

A silhouette of a trafficker with the words "hey, beautiful" signifies traffickers know what to say to entice a girl.

A picture of young girl saying "I love you" to the trafficker shows that many of the victims are looking for love, due to circumstances they have had to deal with early in life.

"Girls, even though they know the risk, they'll still talk to them," Fettig said. "We need to do the best we can to educate the kids, parents and our communities."

Fettig, the founder of the non-profit organization Beneath Our Wings Ministry, said her plan with the Wyoming trip is "fighting human trafficking in Wyoming one community at a time."

She left Sunday for Cody. "I'll start at the Montana line near Cody and work my way slowly to the Wyoming-Colorado Border," Fettig said, noting it is not all one long trip but will be phased out over the summer.

She hopes to participate in the Cody and Ten Sleep Fourth of July parades.

After the Big Horn Basin ride she will regroup and then go Shoshoni to Powder River. The next phase will be the Cheyenne Central Fair and Rodeo and Shirley Basin to Laramie and finally Laramie to Colorado.

Her last ride is around July 19, she said.

Her husband Clint will be one of her support people during the early rides. She is looking for other drivers but added, "God's got that figured out."

She added, "I always appreciate prayers and donations are tax deductible."

People can follow her ride to raise awareness by following the Beneath Our Wings Facebook page.

Fettig said she is also available for presentations to organizations or schools. You can contact Fettig through Facebook or email at [email protected]

NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE

For human trafficking victims, there is a national hotline at 1-888-373-7888 (TTY: 711) or text 233733. 

According to the website, the National Human Trafficking Hotline connects victims and survivors of sex and labor trafficking with services and support to get help and stay safe. The National Hotline also receives tips about potential situations of sex and labor trafficking and facilitates reporting that information to the appropriate authorities in certain cases.

The toll-free phone and SMS text lines and live online chat function are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Help is available in English or Spanish, or in more than 200 additional languages through an on-call interpreter.

According to the most recent data from 2017, provided by the National Human Trafficking Hotline, the hotline received 26,884 phone calls, 2,306 texts, 3,154 webforms filled out and 1,833 emails.

They saw a 13% increase in cases – with 8,759 cases and 10,615 individual victims.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline uses the word "case" to represent distinct situations of trafficking reported to the hotline.

A case can involve one or more potential victims of trafficking and can be reported to the hotline through one or more conversations via call, text, email, online report, or webchat.

The use of the word case is not an indication of law enforcement involvement in the situation.

There were three main types of trafficking in 2017 - sex trafficking, sex and labor trafficking and labor trafficking.

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Online:

https://humantraffickinghotline.org/

Facebook: @BOWMWY

 
 

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