Today, January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day – a day that shines a light on something you may not want to see. Why? Because human trafficking is ugly. Real ugly. And right now, this very minute it’s going on all around you, from back kitchens to major hospitality and agricultural industries, to everything in between. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of this modern-day form of slavery globally, with hundreds of thousands right here in the US.
Though victims can be any age and gender, women and girls account for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry and 58% in other sectors. 1 in 4 victims are children.
To get a clear picture of the scope of the problem, you need to understand what human trafficking is and where it is happening. Victims are often in plain view and go unidentified because they don’t match our stereotypical images.
The goal of today is to bring greater awareness to this heinous crime so we can take action and inspire action in others.
10 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking
- 1. Human trafficking is a hidden crime.
So naturally traffickers keep their abuses hidden from view. It’s important to note that trafficking takes many forms. Certainly sexual servitude is the most widespread, but trafficking also includes domestic servitude, forced farm labor, family members selling a child for money or to buy drugs and teenage runaways who are “sweet talked” into harsh employment and appalling conditions with nowhere else to go. Victims are beaten, violated and told no one else wants them anymore.
- 2. They do it for the money.
Human trafficking isn’t just the pimp down the street. Human trafficking is big business. And it’s not just crime organizations raking in the cash. Industries with public faces such as hotels, transportation services, strip joints and many other companies and organizations often look the other way or even support and encourage trafficking both on and offline.
Just how lucrative is human trafficking? A report from the International Labor Organization says traffickers profit from their victims’ horrific suffering to the tune of more than $150 billion every year – half of it going to wealthy countries. Make no mistake, the business of modern-day slavery not only exists in the US; it is epidemic and rapidly growing.
Civil action can and MUST hold these despicable businesses accountable.
- 3. Victims aren’t always taken by force.
A trafficker’s main tools are deception and manipulation, controlling their victims through drug addiction, lack of financial independence and/or isolation from family or friends. Traffickers exploit vulnerabilities by using promises of a better life- whether that means a feeling of belonging, a better income, or a chance for new opportunities.
- 4. A huge venue for sex trafficking is permitted.
Yep. It’s happening in plain sight. 70% of female trafficking victims are trafficked into the commercial sex industry including porn, stripping and legal brothels.
- 5. A shocking majority of cases go undetected.
Here’s a statistic that’ll keep you up at night: Estimates suggest that internationally only about .04% survivors of human trafficking cases are identified.
- 6. Traffickers target the vulnerable.
Those addicted to drugs, those afflicted with mental illness and runaway girls who were sexually abused as children are prime targets for these monsters.
- 7. Victims are active on the internet.
69% of minor trafficking victims had access to the internet while being trafficked, oftentimes forced to write their own online trafficking ads.
- 8. In the US, kids in foster care are especially vulnerable.
These kids lack a strong family support system to protect them and are more likely to run away. 1 in 7 kids reported missing were ensnared by sex traffickers.
- 9. It’s happening in all 50 states.
About 50,000 people are trafficked into the US each year, most often from Mexico and the Philippines.
- 10. Victims are never at fault
It doesn’t matter that they were initially lured into sex work with promises of a job or were offered drugs, only those who took advantage of them– only those who profited who must be held accountable.
Human Trafficking is a Crisis We Can End! Here’s How:
Learn how to identify victims. Signs include:
- Being accompanied by another person who appears controlling and does all the talking
- Signs of physical or emotional abuse
- Fearfulness or submission
- Carrying no identification
- Difficulty communicating because of language barriers
Make the bad guys pay
Civil litigation may provide the only means by which victims of trafficking may take their power back, confront their victimizers, find a path to freedom and get financial restitution.
Work with your local schools
Encourage them to include human trafficking in their curricula and develop protocols for identifying and reporting a suspected case or responding to a potential victim.
Encourage trauma-informed business practices
Work with the management and human resource department of your organization to assure these practices are in place.
Get involved in national and local politics
Encourage your representatives to invest in programs and job opportunities for women in poverty can help stop exploitation.
Don’t be confused by nut jobs
Yes, I’m talking about QAnon, a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory that attempts to win over new members by piggybacking on the anti-human trafficking movement then introduce bonkers messages like “Hollywood Eats Babies.” Nuff said.
Are You A Victim of Sex Trafficking?
Speak out– fight back! Chances are the person who victimized you is just a bit player in a larger organization or company. Through civil litigation you can hold that organization accountable, send a warning to other organizations and get justice for yourself through financial compensation. Where to start? A Case for Women is an organization of women helping women. All legal representation is done on a contingency fee basis meaning that you do not have to pay anything to get started. Call or text anytime at 214.842.5839.