Human trafficking isn’t “just” an international issue; it happens right here in Racine County. While police work to put traffickers behind bars, a new organization works to help victims into a bright future.

The Racine Coalition Against Human Trafficking came together last January to work with victims of human trafficking, most of whom are young women and girls. On June 24, the group will host a benefit dinner and presentation to help educate the community about this issue.

“Join us as we work together to support the work of freedom- both home and abroad- through awareness, education, rescue and rehabilitation,” a written release from the Coalition reads.

According to a United Nations report, an estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labor situations, including the sex trade. A full 1.2 million are children, and 95 percent of all victims experience physical or sexual violence. More than 10 percent of those individuals can be found in industrialized nations but come from some 127 countries and are trafficked to 137 countries.

“Sex trafficking has been viewed as an international problem, not something that occurs locally. It is time we bring awareness and intervene. Young people are being exploited in our own communities,” said Neal Lofy in the statement.

Lofy is a human trafficking task force investigator for the Racine Police Department.

The Racine Coalition’s benefit takes place 7  to 10 p.m. June 24 at Living Light Community Center, 740 College Avenue, for The Justice Project, an organization “dedicated to fighting trafficking and forced prostitution.”

For $50, participants will enjoy an authentic German meal with a beer voucher, live music and presentations, and a silent auction. All proceeds will benefit both The Justice Project and the Racine Coalition.

Call 262-994-8569 to reserve tickets or to contribute items to the silent auction. This event is open to the public but seating is limited.