When I worked at the Women’s Resource Center we received training on how to talk to a trafficking victim. I learned how to identify, approach, and report a victim to a local organization that rescued victims or to the police. It was a sad and eye-opening experience. As if there is not enough bad news to receive each day. However upsetting it is, I paid attention and I feel good knowing that there are amazing loving people who help victims, whom I can report suspected trafficking to. Please share this blog post with your network. Talking about this crime and making it a public issue is a simple act we can each do to create a safer, healthier, happier world.
Human trafficking is the exploitation of another human and is a form of slavery. I used to think smuggling was the same as trafficking, but that is not necessarily true. Smuggling is transportation based. Trafficking is exploitation based. Don’t get confused by the word trafficking. It does not need to involve any transportation.
Trafficking involves using force, lies or coercion to enslave a person. Victims are controlled via sexual exploitation, violence, a need to work or being in debt to the trafficker. It is a terrible act that affects anywhere from 12-27 million people worldwide. Those are scary numbers to think about. Below are some ways traffickers control victims. One or all of the actions below are used to enslave a person.
- The trafficker will hold someone’s personal documents such as a passport, work permit, or ID so that person is afraid to leave.
- The victim will not be paid or paid less than expected. They may have to pay of f a debt that can never actually be reached.
- Physical beatings are used to control people and emotional abuse as well. Victims are not allowed to socialize, see family or have friends. They are cut off from everyone except their abuser.
- Traffickers create unsafe work and living conditions.
- Victims are often threatened with deportation or jail if they leave.
Be ware of those signs and you may be able to save a life and help them find freedom. Below are two things I remember to be aware of from my training.
- You know those kids you see selling candy bars in parking lots? Ask the children if they are being forced to sell the candy or if they need help. Look around for a van with dark windows nearby. Write down the license plate number and call the police. The traffickers may be inside the van forcing these children to work.
- Are there a lot of women selling Avon or MaryKay to the same house in your neighborhood? Is there a lot of traffic in and out of that same house at any or all hours? Those women may be forced into prostitution.
The Department of Homeland Security finally did something right(don’t get me started on all they do wrong) by creating a training video so all citizens can learn about human trafficking and how to report it. You can watch this short informative training video for free here: www.dhs.gov/human-trafficking-awareness-training Check it out and pass it on. You can report suspected human trafficking via phone or online. Call 1-866-347-2423 (toll-free) or 1-802-872-6199 (non toll-free international) Report online at www.ice.gov/tips
What if it was my niece, nephew or younger cousin that was trafficked? I would be devastated and would want to do anything I could to stop it from happening to someone else.
What if it was your daughter or son? What if the next victim is your little sister or brother?
If you find this information helpful pass it on. Knowledge is power.
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