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Local women start regional human trafficking task force in Aiken County

August 26, 2018

A newly created task force consisting of people from six counties, including Aiken County, will be meeting this upcoming week for the first time.

The Six-County Regional Human Trafficking Task Force will meet Tuesday, Aug. 28, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons, 254 Beaufort St. N.E. in Aiken.

“This is our launch of the task force,” said Susan Selden, director of the Cumbee Center, which is a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The center is a temporary emergency shelter for battered women and their children who seek counseling or assistance in Aiken, Barnwell, Allendale, Saluda, McCormick and Edgefield counties.

Seldon teamed up with Officer Eleanor Hunter with the Aiken Department of Public Safety to create this task force that includes the six counties the Cumbee Center serves.

“This is an offshoot of the Attorney General’s Office – South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force,” Selden said. “We wanted to get this group together to focus in and combat our human trafficking problem ourselves.”

Over 100 people from Aiken, Barnwell, Allendale, Saluda, McCormick and Edgefield have been invited to join the task force, Selden said.

“I think some of these counties are having serious issues with human trafficking,” she said.

For those who may not know, human trafficking is categorized at either sex trafficking or labor trafficking, where people are forced to work or use their bodies for someone else’s gain.

“Sex trafficking tends to be the problem we see more in the counties we are focusing on,” Selden said. “Many traffickers meet their victims online on social media sites, befriend them and give them what they want. (Traffickers) brainwash (their victims) into becoming subservient to do what they want.”

The Six-County Regional Human Trafficking Task Force will discuss its objectives and establish committees that replicate state task force sub-committiees during Tuesday’s meeting.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the regional task force and learning how to join can email Selden at sselden@cumbeecenter.org.

For more information on the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force visit humantrafficking.scag.gov.

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