Human Trafficking Is A Big Threat
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is when people are stolen off the street and sold to other people for the purposes of forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation or sexual slavery by the buyer or the trafficker themselves.
Forced labor is a very generic term for those who are forced to work against their will without pay. These people are often threatened or beaten to keep them quiet and to keep them in their place.
Commercial sexual exploitation is forced prostitution or having sex for money. The people who are bought for these purposes have no say in what “clients” they have or what acts they must do. These victims also don’t get to keep the money they are paid for these forced sexual acts, the money is given to their pimp or trafficker. These victims are both male and female and often very young.
Sexual slavery is similar to sexual exploitation but instead of multiple clients, a sex slave is ‘owned’ by usually one person or possibly a group of people. The victims sold into this type of slavery are also often beaten daily and threatened with death or their family’s death if they disobey.
These are the main reasons people are kidnapped off the streets but people can also be sold for black market body parts, forced marriages or even black market adoptions of kidnapped babies. In a very simplified term it is slavery.
Who Are Targeted?
Honestly, anybody can be a target of human trafficking. Male, female, young and old everyone could be a target. This section will talk about the most vulnerable groups.
As of June 2016 the Trafficking in Persons Report said that refugees migrants, LGBTI community members, people with disabilities and religions minorities are large targets. Another very big target that could have an article all on it’s own is children.
Traffickers look for people who are vulnerable physically and mentally. Someone who can be easily manipulated and grabbed. People in poverty are an easy target as well because when they need help they can be easily tricked and taken if a trafficker offers help.
Children are an easy target because they are usually naive and will willingly get into a strangers car with a few right words. Children walking to school or just playing outside away from their parents vision are often easy targets. Offering treats or toys, saying they have a puppy or kitten that’s lost or even in the car, people will tell them they are a friend of their mom/dad so it’s ok to get into the car with them. Some children are just snatched out of their bedrooms. Traffickers will case the home of a child they may have failed to grab off the street or feel is just too risky to try to approach.
How Many Per Year?
There are approximately 21 million victims of human trafficking around the world. Estimates are 80% are in the sex industry and 20% are in forced labor, 26% are children and 55% are women. Between 800,000 and 4 million men, women and children are sold into some form of human trafficking every year in the United Nations. In the Ukraine, 117,000 people every year are kidnapped and sold into trafficking.
Here are a few statistics (see also the photo below)
80% of victims are women and girls, 50% of the victims are underage. Human trafficking recruiters aren't just dangerous men on the streets, 42% of recruiters are actually female.
Where Does Trafficking Happen?
Human trafficking happens all over the world. Wherever there is a population of people, there are traffickers. Some of the worst places outside of the US for human trafficking are Eastern Europe, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Asia. These are the top 11 worse states for human trafficking in the USA with the victim count per year. The list is as follows; Michigan with 152 victims, New York with 279 victims, Virginia with 145 victims, Maryland with 118 victims, New Jersey with 168 victims, Texas with 432 victims, Georgia with 190 victims, Nevada with 122 victims, Florida with 122 victims, Ohio with 289 victims and California is number one with 978 victims of trafficking kidnapped per year.
How To Stay Safe
This section will talk about tips for staying safe and to lessen your chance of being a victims of human trafficking. First thing you want to do is be aware of your situation and surroundings. Don’t be glued to your phone, look people you pass in the eyes and walk with purpose. Keep your head up, shoulders back and look like you are ready to fight someone. Look confident and assertive and keep your hands empty if possible.
Another good idea is to take a self defense class. Kick boxing, boxing, Muay Thai or karate are good ones to look into. Some self defense classes may have programs for low budget families and people if you don’t have a lot of income.
While keeping your hands empty is a good idea, if you do want to carry anything, a flashlight and a folding tactical knife are good items to have. Flash lights are obviously a good thing to have if you need to walk somewhere in the dark. The folding knife will only be helpful if you know how to use it and practice using it safely and how to open it quickly in an emergency. If you choose this, please note this IS classified as a lethal weapon.
If you want a less than lethal weapon you can carry any of the following items, pepper spray, taser, baton or a patty cat (see photo below). The key to carrying any kind of weapon is that you know how to use them! Practice using these devises, do research and find something that fits well with you.
If you go to nightclubs, resort towns,or bad areas of town be very alert and aware of the people around you. Be on high alert if you have to walk in a dark parking lot or parking garage. If possible, walk with a friend you can trust. If you are at a bar or nightclub and order a drink do not take your eye off your drink. Don’t put it down unattended, don’t turn your back on it, don’t let it out of your hand or sight. Also if you decide to drink, don’t drink in excess. Don’t get fall down drunk and don’t drink alone. Always try to be with at least three trusted people when you go out.
Don’t ever get into a car with someone you just met. I know it’s 2019 and the world of Tinder and Uber/Lyft tell you it’s ok to get in cars with strangers, be very wary of it. Uber and Lyft tend to be more regulated and have more protections but always make sure the car and driver match the description on the application. I know from personal experience of needing to use Uber for work, I always kept myself alert and told someone when I got into the uber and what the driver looked like. Never get into a car with a stranger however, no matter how nice or cute they might be. It’s better to be safe then to be kidnapped.
How You Can Help
Here I will discus several signs of people who may be in human trafficking. People who are employed in private or large businesses who may be a victim might have an inability to come or go from work as they wish or speak for themselves. They might live very close or live in the building were they are employed or might live together with multiple other employees. They also might travel in groups or take transportation that’s only provided by the employer or the employee might not be allowed or able to leave the place of employment at the end of their shift.
Outside of businesses, a victim might be nervous or uneasy around the topic of law enforcement or questioned about their background or immigrant status. They might be uneasy about questions about where they live or where they come from such as hometowns.
Another thing to look for is signs of physical abuse, neglect or malnutrition. Any indication of sexual abuse, physical restrains such as marks around their neck or wrists, confinement or torture. These can be bruises, cuts, burns, flinching at sudden moves and more.
A victim might be unable to communicate either due to a language barrier or disability or they might act like they are being watched. They also might seem disoriented and unsure where they are or might be someone who’s moved to numerous places in a very short amount of time.
If you think you have seen or know someone who could be a victim of human trafficking here are some ways you can help. Firstly, do NOT involve yourself personally with the individual as this can leave you open to being trafficked and can compromise the safety of the victim and yourself. The safest way to help someone in this situation is to contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-800-373-7888 or contact your local police station. NHTRC is a national toll free hot-line that is available to answer calls anywhere in the country 24 hours a day. The number is available 7 days a week every single day of the year including holidays. All calls including on-line reports are confidential. A number you can text reports and information to is 233733 (BeFree) however if the victim is in immediate danger always call 911 for the US. Here is a link to the Polaris Project that helps victims get support and helps fight human trafficking. https://polarisproject.org
You can also help raise awareness in the community and help prevent human trafficking by joining support advocacy groups that help victims. You can help by sharing you knowledge of human trafficking on social media or just by talking to friends, family, classmates and coworkers. Discuss the issue and share how they can help as well.