The Department of Justice defines human trafficking as “a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex” and is commonly referred to as “modern slavery”. Many think of human trafficking as transnational, when these heinous crimes are more often being committed right here in the United States. These horrendous acts continue to be unquestionably lucrative and are growing rapidly. In 2007, Senate named January 11th National Human Trafficking Awareness Day to assist in the growing need for these crimes to be truly understood by the general public.
Know the signs
As the anti-trafficking movement continues to grow in understanding this multiplex crime, the community has come to recognize that one of the most important ways to be aware of human trafficking is knowing the signs of someone who may be trafficked. A victim of human trafficking may be someone who:
- Is constantly being monitored by another person during all interactions, or is not speaking for themselves
- Does not have control over their personal belongings and/or daily schedules
- Lacks healthcare or may appear malnourished
- Lives in poor living conditions that may have high security, or be overcrowded
- Shows signs of injuries and physical abuse
- Seems disconnected, has sudden or dramatic changes in behavior
In the 2020 National Hotline Annual Report, it was reported that the hotline received 51,667 tips via phone call, text message, email, webchat, and online reports nationwide; the number continues to grow. There is an abundance of different ways to take action on the fight against human trafficking. Here are just a few:
- Be conscientious and informed (Know the Signs!)
- Recognize who is most vulnerable. These individuals may be a victim of previous sexual or domestic abuse, have an unstable living situation, be addicted to drugs or alcohol, and more.
- Volunteer in your own community by joining groups that take anti-trafficking efforts or host awareness events
- Organize or donate to fundraisers
- Use social media platforms to boost awareness by using hashtags such as #endtrafficking and #freedomfirst
- Ask peers what they are doing to combat trafficking and help educate others.
The victims of human trafficking crimes are being stripped of their lives. They are being forced into providing commercial sex or labor in inhumane conditions for the profit of the trafficker. This multi-billion dollar criminal industry denies freedom to a prevalent amount of people. Now is the time to join the fight against human trafficking by knowing the signs, spreading awareness, and coming together as a community to take action.
If you believe you may be aware of a victim of human trafficking, use the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888 (TTY:711)|*Text 233733) and visit their website for more information National Human Trafficking Hotline.