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COVID-19 Pandemic Heightens Risk Of Human Trafficking In Idaho

Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred unprecedented spikes in unemployment, widespread housing insecurity and increased hunger. 


“Traffickers will hone in on on an individual's vulnerabilities, especially by giving them false promises," said Jennifer Zielinski, Executive Director of the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition.

She said that the pandemic has created an environment of desperation that puts people at higher risk for trafficking and sexual exploitation. 

Zielinski said promises of shelter, food, clothes or jobs are all used to manipulate victims of human trafficking. With many individuals isolated at home and in critical need of work, she said calls to the coalition have nearly quadrupled. 

“Within our crisis calls alone, they've skyrocketed. And every week we're seeing an increase in those calls," said Zielinski.

Human trafficking is usually hidden in plain sight. That’s why, Zielinski said, it’s important to stay vigilant and look out for warnings that someone is being trafficked, like signs of physical abuse or becoming suddenly withdrawn. 

More information about the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition can be found here.

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