Putting an End to Human Trafficking

stop-human-trafficking

Up to 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade and 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally every year, according to statistics published by the International Labour Organization, and the number is expected to increase in the years to come, even surpassing the illegal sale of arms.

Human trafficking is slavery. Perpetrators force the victims into sexual exploitation, organ donation, labor, and sometimes a combination of more than one. According to expert Megan Helton, “the current approaches to combat human trafficking could be greatly improved if law enforcement and health care providers worked together to identify victims and prosecute traffickers.” Most commonly, the direct victims of human trafficking are women and children. Though men also suffer as whole families and communities are disrupted and disturbed by the victims’ disappearances.

Traffickers tend to look for victims who are vulnerable and often in poverty stricken areas–people they suppose could go missing without too many people asking questions–but not always. Sometimes they hold false auditions or tryouts for modeling gigs in hopes of luring unsuspecting adolescent girls. “Often the traffickers will lure the women and children into the enterprise with false promises and hope for stable work, a steady income, and decent wages” Helton writes. Once kidnapped, human trafficking victims become sex slaves in forced laborers in settings as diverse as a neighbor’s home or a brothel in a foreign country. They can also be sold into marriage.

In additon to poor sexual health due to STDs and the emotional and psychological strain of their lives, it’s likely these victims will also suffer from substance addiction. Especially in the sex trade, sex traffickers often forcer their victims into addiction to have further control over them.

According to ag.nv.gov, some indications that a person may be a victim of human trafficking include (especially in the case of women and children):

  • Appearing malnourished
  • Showing signs of physical injuries and abuse
  • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement
  • Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction
  • Lacking official identification documents
  • Appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions
  • Working excessively long hours
  • Living at place of employment
  • Poor physical or dental health
  • Tattoos/ branding on the neck and/or lower back
  • Untreated sexually transmitted diseases
  • Small children serving in a family restaurant
  • Security measures that appear to keep people inside an establishment – barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows
  • Not allowing people to go into public alone, or speak for themselves

What can be done?

To help combat human trafficking, Congress has instituted The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 which targets sex trade and slavery and includes federal programs designed to help prevent violence against women. Operation underground RailRoad works across the globe and has helped many victims to be protected and saved; and many traffickers have been arrested.

Education is the best tool to put to an end to human trafficking. Law enforcement professionals, medical practitioners and educators should receive training to identify evidence of human trafficking in their communities, hospitals and classrooms.

The everyday person can use the library and even the internet browser on a cell phone to learn more about human trafficking prevention and helping the victims.

Make the committment today to

Human trafficking is a sensitive subject, but we need to bring awareness to it. It affects families and children in all walks of life, all over the world–even in the United States.


For more information:
Helton, M. (2016). HUMAN TRAFFICKING: HOW A JOINT TASK FORCE BETWEEN HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT CAN ASSIST WITH IDENTIFYING VICTIMS AND PROSECUTING TRAFFICKERS. Health Matrix: Journal Of Law-Medicine, 26433-473.

http://www.state.gov/j/tip/laws/61124.htm
http://ourrescue.org/
https://polarisproject.org/
http://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/
National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline 1(888) 373-7888
Image source: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/sheriff/Pages/humantrafficking.aspx

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