My previous post about the book, Undaunted, garnered questions (and some frustrations) about what a person can do once they are aware of the problem of human trafficking. In addition to signing up for the newsletters of anti-trafficking organizations and liking their Facebook pages, (which can lead you into all kinds of ways to get involved), you can help by simply knowing what to look for. Human trafficking happens right under our noses.
- Learn to recognize the signs.
- Pay attention.
- Notice people.
- Take a closer look. Human trafficking (sex and labor) can often occur in street prostitution, brothels, strip clubs and massage parlors, but also at truck stops and in domestic service, agriculture, manufacturing, in restaurants and other hospitality and service industries, janitorial services, construction, and health and elder care.
- Don’t assume they are simply prostitutes of their own free will. Federal law defines the means used, to include not only force, but also fraud and coercion.
- Many have been beaten and raped until their will to fight is broken. This is still involuntary servitude.
- Many have received threats that loved ones will be hurt or killed if they don’t comply.
- Many may display attitudes of disdain if questioned, but this often stems from fear and learned distrust of people’s intentions.
- Many may not self-identify as victims because they do not know their rights and/or their traffickers have made them think they brought it on themselves, and that nobody cares.
- Do they possess any identification or travel documentation?
- Traffickers often take and maintain control of these documents to prevent escape.
- Do they look underage?
- Any minor engaged in commercial sex is a victim of human trafficking. Period. Unfortunately, they are often treated as criminals rather than victims.
- If you work in the travel/tourism/hospitality industry, have you seen him or her more than once?
- Do you recognize any men or women accompanying them or directing them? Do you recognize their vehicles?
- Physical signs of trauma or fatigue?
- Overall health? Bruises? Other injuries?
- Any tattoos or branding?
- Some traffickers brand their victims. Note specific markings.
- Are individuals withdrawn or afraid to speak?
- Does someone censor or speak for them?
- Do their answers sound canned and rehearsed?
- Does their movement seem restricted by another person?
- Do they know where they are?
- Victims are often moved so often, they may not know what city or state they are in right now.
- Do they speak the language?
- Foreign-born victims may understand only words and phrases associated with sex.
- Do you notice ANYTHING that denotes a lack of freedom, or choice?
- If you are a teacher, please also check this signs of child human trafficking list from Dept. of Education for what to specifically notice about your students.
Example Questions For Potential Victims:
- Is there anything I can do to help you?
- Do you live here in town? How long?
- Do you owe your boss money?
- Does your boss take anything out of your pay?
- Are you allowed to come and go freely?
- Are you afraid to stop doing what you’re doing?
**Be extremely cautious if ever approaching a potential victim with these questions…their trafficker may be monitoring them.
IF YOU SUSPECT A CASE OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING:
- DO NOT approach or confront a suspected trafficker (for safety as well as judicial case building reasons)
- Call your local police. State you suspect a case of human trafficking. Provide as much detail as possible (ex. location, physical descriptions, scenario that played out to cause suspicion, vehicle make, model, plates)
- Call the U.S. National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1-888-3737-888
The above, of course, is not a definitive list. But it should get you thinking. Yes?
To learn more, you may want to read the article I was recently fortunate enough to have published in Relevant Magazine on The State of Modern Slavery.