Human trafficking is essentially the business of stealing a person’s freedom for profit. It involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain forms of labor or commercial sex acts. Sadly, every year millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide. Anyone can be a victim. Any age, race, gender, or nationality are vulnerable to this horrible crime.
There are many ways a trafficker might lure their victim. Often times, manipulation can be their most powerful weapon. The victims may be promised a well-paying job or even a romantic relationship in order to lower their guard. In addition, they choose their victims depending on emotional vulnerability, lack of friends or family, or economic hardship.
There are many misconceptions about human trafficking due to misinformation. The more information that is available and research that is conducted the more the public will be able to understand the severity of this evil that plagues the world.
Know the Signs
Learning the signs of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and saving a life. According to the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, these are the main indicators of human trafficking:
- Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
- Has a child stopped attending school?
- Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
- Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
- Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
- Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
- Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
- Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
- Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
- Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
- Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
- Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
- Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?
It is important to note that not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.
People believe that human trafficking mainly occurs in developing countries when in fact it is the third largest international crime industry. It reportedly generates a profit of 32 billion dollars every year.
Another common myth is that it is mostly about commercial sex exploitation. This crime also makes up for 25 million people in human slavery today.
Although, the most harmful myth would be that there is nothing the public can do to help. There are so many ways to fight this horrible crime and they are as follows.
How Can You Help?
Make sure you educate yourself by reading news articles and staying up to date with the tactics a trafficker may use. Learn how to protect yourself and you will become more social aware of the situation.
If you believe you may have information about a trafficking situation call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
You even have the option to text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 233733. Message and data rates may apply.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline encourages you to remember that all reports are confidential, and you will remain anonymous.