Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- More Native American women are becoming victims of sex trafficking, according to tribal officials. They say the problem looks different in Native communities than in non-Native areas.

A summit in Albuquerque hopes to find ways to solve this problem.

When it comes to tribal communities, Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty said they are seeing more cases of those being sold for sex and it's not typically what you'd see in non-Native areas.

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"What we're seeing on Navajo involves family members," she said. "A lot of times we see substance abuse or alcohol abuse, either minors or children, are trafficked to sustain the adult's habits."

That's why she and other tribal leaders are in Albuquerque for the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women summit.

"This is not an easy topic to discuss because it requires us to look within our communities and our own families," Kanazbah Crotty said.

Figures from the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center state in four areas with a high Native American population, 40 percent of trafficking victims were Native.

"A lot of the times, they like women who are Native women because we're versatile. We're able to pass as Asian. We're able to pass as Mexican," said Shelane Rosales, who works with a program called Education and Advocacy Against Sex Trafficking.

The program is a non-profit organization in the metro that received a three-year grant from the Department of Justice to identify sex trafficking victims on the streets and try to get them help. Rosales said during her outreach many people are surprised to find out what's going on.

"We get that all the time. There was a man I was talking to who was like, 'What, this isn't happening in Albuquerque.' I said, 'Yes it is, sir. It's happening down the street," Rosales said.

Leaders from Indian Country say they are constantly working to build programs to help end violence against women and want to work together across all nations to end this problem.

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