In a Presidential Proclamation for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, President Barack Obama says, “One hundred and fifty years ago, our Nation codified the fundamental truth that slavery is an affront to human dignity. Still, the bitter fact remains that millions of men, women, and children around the globe, including here at home, are subject to modern-day slavery: the cruel, inhumane practice of human trafficking. This month, we rededicate ourselves to assisting victims of human trafficking and to combating it in all its forms.”
“During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, let us recognize the victims of trafficking, and let us resolve to build a future in which its perpetrators are brought to justice and no people are denied their inherent human rights of freedom and dignity,” he continued.
When he concluded, President Obama proclaimed, “January 2016 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1.”
Human Trafficking is defined as “the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.” However, it is much more than just that. Human trafficking can be caused by the means of force, coercion, and fraud, intended for involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, and slavery.
Victims of trafficking can become vulnerable due to criminal history, natural disasters that destroyed their shelter, the high demand for cheap labor, political instability, poor standards of living, or immigration status.
Traffickers’ methods of control can be split into many categories, this consists of, but is not limited to: the victim being without the control of their personal documents such as their identification papers, being forced to work so often because their wages are too low to pay off their debt, the safety of the victim and victim's family has been threatened, freedom to leave is not there, and they are constantly in unsafe/poor working and living conditions.
What are the facts I should know about Human Trafficking?
- The International Labor Organization estimates around 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally—68% of them are trapped in forced labor, 26% of them are children, and 55% are women and girls.
- They have also estimated that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.
- The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 136 goods from 74 countries produced by forced/child labor
- More than 23,800 moderate victim cases and more than 22,500 high victim cases have been reported to the NHTRC hotline since 2007.
- The NHTRC hotline receives an average of 100 calls per day. Read stories of survivors who called the hotline for help.
- Between the months of January to September in 2015, there were more than 4,100 human trafficking cases reported and 16,600 calls.
- By state, California has reported the most human trafficking cases to the NHTRC hotline with 711 cases prior to September in 2015.
- Sex trafficking is the most reported type of trafficking to the NHTRC with a total of 3,093 cases.
- The top venue/industry reported to the NHRTC for labor trafficking is domestic work with 100 reported cases.
- The top venue/industry reported for sex trafficking is commercial-front brothels with 321 reported cases to the NHRTC.
What signs should I recognize?
It might be human trafficking, if the individual:
- Cannot come and go as she please
- Is a minor and providing commercial sex acts
- Has a pimp/manager
- Receives very little pay, or goes without pay
- Works excessively (14+ hours a day)
- Is unable to pay off their large amount of debt
- Has work/living conditions with high security measures such as bars on windows or barbed wire
- Shows constant fear, depression, anxiety or paranoia
- Is fearful of law enforcement
- Avoids eye contact
- Appears malnourished
- Shows signs of any type of abuse, confinement, or torture
- Is not in control of their own money or identification documents
- Is influenced by a third party on how to speak/what to say to others
- Has lost their sense of time
- Is unaware of where they are
- Is inconsistent when telling their story
- Claims they are just visiting and cannot designate the address they are living/working at
What are the current headlines on Human Trafficking?
In Columbia, South Carolina, Daytron Hoefer was charged with human trafficking, kidnapping, and contributing to the delinquency of a 16-year-old girl, for forcing her into prostitution.
Gregory Hines and Keith Lewis of Naples, Florida, face multiple charges after authorities rescued four women from a human trafficking operation. Hines and Lewis placed an ad online for “escort services,” but instead, provided victims with drugs in exchange for sexual acts.
A woman in Wyoming mouthed the words "help me" to a police officer, leading to the arrest of a 38-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman who promised two young women a new life and a great job in California. By the time they were in Pennsylvania, the man and woman became a threat and would not allow the two women to leave. Both young women were saved by the police officer.
How can I help put an end to human trafficking?
Two of the biggest projects are the Blue Campaign and the Polaris Project.
The Blue Campaign is an initiative created by the Department of Homeland’s Security to combat the horrible doing of human trafficking. They provide Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. They also provide an online training course to increase your knowledge of human trafficking.
The Polaris Project is named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S. A few partnerships and sponsors to this project are: Google, Wyndham Hotel Group, Sales Force, White & Case, and Getty Images.
They encourage you to get involved by urging your Congressmen to sign the Runaway and Homeless Youth Trafficking Prevention Act which is intended to create a new ways to combat human trafficking and increase the length of stay in Basic Centers. They also encourage you to Tweet at Congress with the hashtag #DontCutVOCA, as congress just took away $1.5 million from the Crimes Victim Fund to use for other purposes.
On behalf of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we encourage you to RYSE up for the 20.9 million victims of human trafficking.