The entire month of January is designated as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month with January 11 highlighted as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Some will wear the color blue today to show solidarity and commitment to ending modern day slavery. Below is a helpful list from DHS on how to spot someone who might be a victim of human trafficking, followed by links for how to report to either DHS or the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Personally, I don’t have much faith in Homeland Security these days, so if the person appears to be from another country, call the Human Trafficking Hotline and not DHS, in order to protect the person from ICE and possible deportation abuses. This list is from the Department of Homeland Security.
Indicators of Human Trafficking
Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Here are some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking:
- Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
- Has a child stopped attending school?
- Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
- Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
- Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
- Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
- Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
- Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
- Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
- Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
- Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
- Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
- Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?
Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.
For more information and numbers to call to report:
“When you tell yourself that there is nothing you can do to arrest the global slave trade, you underestimate your own potential and abandon hope for those trapped in captivity.”
-David Batstone, founder of Not For Sale.
I think I am one of those sensitive souls who gets overwhelmed by the evil in this world. I often find myself saying, “It’s too much.” I feel small and powerless against the giants of human trafficking, poverty, and the violation of innocents around the world. I want to do something but don’t know where to start.
Then I am inspired by a twelve-year old girl who opens a lemon-ade stand so she can send money to stop human trafficking. Or an eight year old boy who does chores around his neighborhood so he can help dig a well for a village in remote Uganda where there is no safe water. Or university students who volunteer their time at a local coffee shop whose every resource goes to fighting sex trafficking.
I am an aspiring writer. I’ve been working on a novel series for years. A couple of years ago I made the decision that when I do publish, I will give a portion of the sale of each book to fight the trafficking of humans for sexual purposes, a particularly heinous thing to me. (SVU watchers probably heard a doink, doink there.)
I can also help to raise awareness among those I know through social media and through this blog. Awareness is a first step. I don’t know that we will reabolish slavery in my lifetime–that’s like wanting to eliminate Organized Crime or Global Hunger– but I would like to see a significant reduction in numbers and more help set up for victims. It would be great progress just to hear the majority of people say that yes, there is a problem. Yes, in this country. Yes, in our own area. So many are still unaware because the very nature of this kind of slavery is covert, shrouded in secrecy.
So as my Helen Keller quote from a few days ago says, “I am only one…but I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” I can help to open some eyes.