YAKIMA, WA.- Human trafficking affects many communities across the country, even in our own neighborhoods, although it may be hard to believe.
Mercy Project of Washington is helping bring awareness about human trafficking to the Yakima Valley.
KNDO learned more about the issue at the second annual anti-human trafficking awareness walk on Saturday.
Inspirational voices filled millennium Plaza in downtown Yakima Saturday morning, people throughout the Yakima Valley gathered to raise awareness and offer support to those affected by human trafficking.
Aspen Victim Advocacy Services says last year alone they had over 300 victims of sexual violence in the Yakima Valley and of those 15 were victims of human trafficking.
“It's kind of like one of those don't talk about it it'll go away, but it won't we need to come out here and make it an issue because other than that people will just ignore it,” Rachel Fender, a participant at the walk told KNDO.
That might seem like a small number in comparison to 300 but stopping the issue before it grows is what those at the walk today are hoping to accomplish.
“We know that girls are being brought across state from Seattle on the I-90 and we just want to stop it from becoming a bigger problem in our valley,” Mercy Project of Washington founder, Leslie Austin told KNDO.
More than seventy-five people marched through the streets of Yakima, hoping to make a difference, even if it meant just holding up a sign in support of anti human trafficking.
“If we don't look at it and address it and bring it out into the light it just continues and we have more and more people fall victim to it,” Aspen Victim Advocacy Program Director, Kim Foley told KNDO.