What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will. Trafficking can involve school-age children (particularly those not living with their parents), who are vulnerable to coerced labor exploitation, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation/prostitution. The lives of an estimated 22 million men, women and children, worldwide, are destroyed by this horrific crime. Approximately 5.5 million children are included in this estimate.(source: International Labor Organization).
Human Sex Trafficking Brings in About $99 Billion Each Year, and is One of the Fastest Growing Most Lucrative Crimes.
Sex trafficking has been found in a wide variety of venues within the sex industry, including residential brothels, escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution. Sex traffickers frequently target victims and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry for their own profit. Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market demand for young victims. The children at risk are not just high school students – studies show that pimps prey on victims as young as 12. Traffickers have been reported targeting their minor victims through telephone chat-lines, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as using girls to recruit other girls at schools and after-school programs.
Labor trafficking victims make an alarmingly high number of consumer goods and food products, imported to the United States and produced domestically. Want to know what you’re buying? Check out the Department of Labor app, Sweat and Toil @ www.dol.gov .
Labor trafficking has been found in diverse labor settings including, domestic work, small businesses, large farms, and factories. Common types of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farm workers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions with little to no pay. Women and children are often kidnapped into the industry or sold into it by family under desperate circumstances. Only about 10% of police stations in the United States have any protocol to deal with trafficking.
All forms of Human Trafficking are estimated to generate $150 billion, collectively in criminal profits every year worldwide. (Source: International Labor Organization)
How Do People Get Trapped Into Sex or Labor Trafficking?
No one volunteers to be exploited. Traffickers frequently recruit people through fraudulent advertisements promising legitimate jobs as hostesses, domestics, or work in the agricultural industry. Young girls are often lured into trafficking by “boyfriends” who promise to take care of them. The internet is a traffickers’ dream, with endless possibilities for connection with boys and girls through social media. In addition, the internet provides an array of websites where victims can be exploited and sold for services.
Trafficking victims of all kinds come from rural, suburban, and urban settings. Trafficking victims are kept in bondage through a combination of fear, intimidation, abuse, and psychological controls. While each victim will have a different experience, they share common threads that may signify a life of indentured servitude. Trafficking victims live a life marked by abuse, betrayal of their basic human rights, and control under their trafficker, making it nearly impossible for them to escape. Human trafficking is rampant no matter where you go, yet sometimes the signs are mistaken for something else or ignored. Knowing what to look for will mean victims have a greater chance of rescue. According to the NHTRC, approximately 78% of human trafficking cases were identified due to reporting tips. Sadly though, only 2% of victims are ever rescued. We need to increase our knowledge in order to become more useful in ending this life destroying criminal industry.
Human trafficking is rampant no matter where you go, yet sometimes the signs are mistaken for something else or ignored. Knowing what to look for will mean victims have a greater chance of rescue.
Warning Signs That a Person May be a Trafficking Victim:
Signs of physical abuse:
Tends to wear the same clothes regardless of occasion or weather
Fearful of authorities, particularly law enforcement
Always accompanied by another person, hesitant to speak to anyone else
Works long or unusual hours
Avoids eye contact
No control over personal finances
Unable to clarify where he/she lives
Paid only through tips, if ever
Cannot regularly attend school
High foot traffic around one building or compound, only men entering or exiting. If women leave, only by escort
Excessive anxiety or depression
Always under surveillance in public, at doctor, hospital, etc.
No personal identification, passport, or legal documents with name, age, birthplace, etc. Papers are often the first thing traffickers take, threatening their victims with illegal immigration laws.
Discusses sexual situations which are far beyond their age level/maturity level
Untreated medical issues, including STDs, broken bones, or chronic illness
Frequents local hotels (multiple times a week). This is especially common among women who are sold by their pimps on the internet.
Lives where he/she works
Brand-like tattoos or unique scarring
Possesses large amounts of condoms, typically carried on their person
Living in a small space with numerous other people
Has a boyfriend 10+ years older, particularly minors
Loss of sense of time
Severed ties with family and friends
Uses multiple cell phones
Workers in the commercial sex industry – strippers, dancers, escorts, etc.
Foreign worker under age 18, and not a student