National Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2022
January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and January is National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the US. While it’s likely that most of us have heard of human trafficking, given how insidious and prolific it is and has become, it’s both important to provide a definition of what it is exactly as well as how to identify it and find help.
Human trafficking is the exploitation and enslavement of an/other person(s) for the purposes of labor, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual activity by force, fraud or coercion. Human bodies are sold for these purposes without their consent. Human trafficking takes place in every country around the world and is happening right now, all around us. Folks are lured/abducted/coerced into trafficking in a variety of ways and to no one’s surprise, the most vulnerable amongst us are the most likely targets. According to 2017 stats provided by the International Labor Organization, there were more than 40 million enslaved people globally, with girls and women accounting for 71% of this number and children accounting for 25% of this number.
Human trafficking operates subtly and under our noses which makes it really difficult to spot especially if you don’t know what to be looking for. Here are some ways to spot human trafficking:
🚩 Houses/flat with too many people, often all being picked up/dropped off at the same time
🚩 People who seem scared/confused and have untreated injuries
🚩 Few or no documents/someone else has control/possession of documents/passport
🚩 People who are anxious/unwilling to tell others about their situation
🚩 Poor health, malnutrition and untreated dental issues
🚩 No control over movement/mail/phone
🚩 One person speaking on behalf of others, who may avoid eye contact
🚩 Bruising and signs of physical and psychological abuse trauma including memory loss, confusion and anxiety
🚩 No/low pay
Here are some signs for parents/guardians to watch for in their kids:
🚩 Not coming home at night
🚩 Wearing different (more provocative) clothes that you didn’t purchase for them
🚩 Sudden negative changes in grades
🚩 Always exhausted
🚩 Always on phone/sleeps with it
🚩 Excessive feelings of self-hate/depression/crying
🚩 A much older boyfriend/girlfriend
🚩 Lots of adults on their social media that you don’t know
🚩 No longer going out with their friends
🚩 Multiple STIs
🚩 Someone (boyfriend/girlfriend) trying to control their movements/communications with friends
🚩 Sudden poor hygiene
These lists have been compiled by human trafficking survivors and are by no means exhaustive but are meant to teach us what to look for so that we can identify and intervene to prevent the situation from escalating.
If you expect human trafficking is taking place, please contact:
The National Human Trafficking Hotline (US)
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
CALL: 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678)
The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline
The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline also has a referral directory intended to connect victims and survivors of human trafficking to emergency, transitional and long-term services in communities across Canada.
With the stats offered above, tackling the global issue of human trafficking can feel daunting and overwhelming; however, there are many things that each of us can do at an individual and community level to prevent and reduce trafficking.
✅ Awareness is the first step: understanding the issue and how certain folks are targeted for human trafficking is key. The most vulnerable people targeted include: women, children, refugees and migrants, those within the LGBTQ+ community, those who have been victimized by abuse, those living in poverty and those struggling with addiction.
✅ Prevention starts with awareness and education geared towards youth; having candid, age-appropriate conversations support youth in knowing what to look out for when online
✅ Supporting at-risk youth through anti-poverty and head-start organizations and programs
✅ Support survivors
✅ Support organizations that do meaningful work to defeat human trafficking
✅ Support policies that create consequences for those purchasing underage sex and those facilitating those purchases
Spread the word. Share this post. Keep the conversation going. As a collective, we have the power to shift the tide on human trafficking.
Sources: UNITAS and Hope for Justice
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