GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Greenfield Community College hosted a forum Wednesday on sex trafficking in the Franklin County and North Quabbin Region.
Hundreds of people attended the forum on Wednesday, where speakers emphasized that sex trafficking in the area may look different from what takes place in cities – but is still very much a problem in rural communities.
“This was the tip sort of the beginning of education as a community around what are the issues how are they showing up,” panel moderator, Marianne Bullock told 22News.
The Franklin County Sherrif’s Office and Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and North Quabbin Region were part of the forum. Organizers told 22News sex trafficking in the area sees more people being exploited for survival compared to those being held captive and moved across state lines.
“People are needing to trade sex for housing or for material things or to take care of their families and sometimes people are not comfortable with that and that’s when it becomes exploitation,” Bullock continued.
Organizers also discussed how programs in the area were not meeting all the needs of sex trafficking victims.
“I think that it would be beneficial for all the communities and counties in Massachusetts to come together to talk about the work they’re doing so we can see where we can overlap and what’s working, what’s not and what we can use,” panelist Bella Vandetta told 22News.
Speakers said many times sex trafficking victims do not get found until they are incarcerated.
Event organizers told 22News they hope that Wednesday’s event was the first step in starting a discussion and actions around combating sex trafficking in western Massachusetts.