Charleston Women Summer 2022

26 www. Char l es tonWomenPodcas t . com | www. ReadCW. com | www. I ns tagram. com /Char l es tonWomen There are certain universal truths in life that all people encounter or understand. For instance, a smile can be interpreted by newborns and knows no language barrier. Then there is oxygen; all humans need it to sustain life. Breathing in and out is innate, and the air is readily available, though it has no visible form or discernable aroma. It is simply among us. However, there are other connections less beautiful that tie people from all walks of life together. One of them is a 150-billion-dollar industry that, according to the U.S. Department of State, affects 24.9 million people annually. It is a business fueled by the darker motivations of mankind, rooted in sex and money and carried out in plain sight. Like the oxygen that all people share, it filters in and out of everyone’s lives, rarely noticed. It is the practice of human trafficking. Many people think of human trafficking as something that happens in other countries to wayward women whom the “average joe” citizen would never encounter. They don’t think it’s happening in the hotel room next door, the airplane seat beside them, their favorite steakhouse or the playground in suburbia. They don’t realize it is forced labor, indentured servitude and sexual exploitation of all ages. They don’t realize that common traffickers can run legal businesses, are middle- or upperclass Americans and have families. However, nothing could be further from the truth. It is happening in every walk of life, in every community. South Carolina is no exception, with Charleston and Dorchester counties making the top 10 list of the most trafficked counties in the state. According to a March 2022 press release from the team at Congresswoman Nancy Mace’s office, human trafficking in South Carolina is up a whopping 15% from last year. There were recent raids in both Summerville and Goose Creek, the latter resulting in 28 arrests. Mace, a native of Goose Creek and South Carolina District 1 representative, was appalled to hear of such an enormous operation taking place in the sleepy town where she grew up. This stoked a fire that was already burning for her since taking office. Mace shared with Charleston Women that one of her first briefings, from both Homeland Security and the FBI, was about the growing network of human trafficking operations in the Palmetto State. She was educated on the organizations and numerous local “stash” houses lurking among the palm trees, sandy beaches and historical ambience South Carolina boasts. An avid champion of human rights and civil liberties, Mace later teamed up with officials from both sides to promote the bipartisan Human Trafficking Prevention Act of 2022. The bill was introduced by Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and is being advocated by Karen Bass (D-CA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA). Representative Mace is the Republican lead. Hope for Human Trafficking BY LORNA HOL L I F I ELD Congres swoman Nanc y Mace. Congresswoman Nancy Mace Champions Bipartisan Bill