Pennsylvania State Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong) will lead a Human Trafficking Awareness Event from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 14 in Hart Chapel, PennWest Clarion campus. Pennsylvania State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will co-host.

Currently, Pennsylvania is ranked in the top 10 human trafficking states nationally, and our rural area is not immune. In fact, our proximity to Interstate 80 means that victims are literally in our midst.

Through force, fraud and coercion, human traffickers push their victims – most likely women and children – into demeaning forms of abuse, including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced marriage and organ removal. Youth are being sold and forced to act as child soldiers.

It's estimated that human trafficking is a $150 billion industry with more than 40 million victims around the globe. Awareness, understanding and increased efforts are essential to combating this crime.

Oberlander held a similar event in 2021. She is a 1991 Clarion graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is a member of PennWest Council of Trustees.