Common Misconceptions or Myths
Myth: Trafficking involves moving, traveling, or transporting a person across state or national borders.
Reality: Victims can be recruited and trafficked within their own town.
Myth: Human trafficking only happens in underground or illegal industries.
Reality: Human trafficking has been reported in the following industries: restaurants, cleaning services, construction, factories and more.
Myth: Only females are victims of sex trafficking.
Reality: One study estimates that half of sex trafficking victims are actually male.
Looking at the Facts
Around the world today, between 21 to 30 million people are enslaved by perpetrators:
- Owners of farms
- Business owners or corporate executives
- Government representative
- Intimate partners
- Parents and family members
It can happen to anyone, but the most vulnerable are:
- Substance users
- Mentally unstable
- Recent migrants
- Runaway youth who are homeless
- Children in the welfare system
These victims are targeted by a multi-billion dollar criminal industry to work under inhumane conditions. This enslavement is disguised by control tactics. Perpetrators will make promises to address the needs of their target.
The victims are then trapped by psychological trauma: conning, expert manipulation, misplaced loyalty, fear from threats and assaults, isolation, guilt, shame. For this reason, victims deny their identity as a slave and keep themselves from the help they desperately need. This modern slavery takes many forms, such as prostitution, armed forces recruitment, and the exploitation of migrant workers. The most common is prostitution, where 79 percent of survivors have come out of. The following are some examples of how human trafficking works:
- When population rise or natural disasters leave many economically vulnerable at the hands of moneylenders, they are found enslaved to debt they cannot pay.
- Traffickers take advantage of migrants leaving their impoverished countries by posing as labor recruiters. Migrants are particularly vulnerable because they are far from home and unfamiliar with their surroundings. They don’t speak the local language and have no family or friends to rely on. This isolation cannot be resolved by returning home because they don’t have the funds.
- Corrupt law enforcement and governments allow slavery to go unpunished. In some countries children are forced to beg. If they don’t meet their quotas they are beaten or dismembered to gain more sympathy. Children are also bonded into soldiering. They are “recruited,” or rather abducted by government armed forces and rebel groups to serve as combatants, porters, messengers, and other roles. These children are influenced to seek revenge for the violent acts done against them and their families. These forced duties deprive them of their education, childhood and ultimately their human rights.
Groups Helping Globally and Nationally
According to UNICEF, 2 million cildren are victims of sex trade. The average age of a girl forced in the U.S. domestic sex slavery market is 13 years old. As a response, UNICEF works with communities to change norms and practices that increase children’s vulnerability to human trafficking. It encourages governments to set standards in dealing with child trafficking by developing responsible personnel with child friendly interviewing techniques. The professionals in need of this training include: social workers, health workers, police and border officials.
Above this, UNICEF and its partners negotiate with armed forces for the release of abducted children. These survivors are placed in transitory care and reunited with their family. To reintegrate into their communities UNICEF ensures all the proper support.
Polaris is another organization with initiatives to abolish human trafficking. It has created a global safety net by helping agencies develop cross-border collaborations to combat human trafficking operating internationally. Polaris also supports Federal and Legislative efforts that protect workers on temporary Visas.
The organization provides training techniques on how to identify human trafficking in businesses such as hotels. In fact, Polaris collaborates with hotels such as Wyndam and Marriott to provide shelter for victims.
As part of their effort to end human trafficking in illegal massage businesses, Polaris helps survivors find housing, counseling, medical care, legal advocacy, job training, interpretation, immigration relief, substance abuse recovery, food, and clothing assistance.
The organization is also a direct support system with safelines. The National Trafficking Hotline and the BeFree Textline connects U.S. victims and survivors to vetted services and support.
U.S. Government Interventions
The FBI covers human trafficking cases under its Cries Against Children and Human Trafficking program. The Bureau investigates traffickers with the goal of rescuing victims from their environments. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) is enforced to provide immigration relief to international victims with Continued Presence and the T Visa. These formalities give survivors temporary legal status during investigations. Under this same Act. the guilty party is required to pay restitution to the victims.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also grants refuge under Continued Presence and authorizes foreign nationals to work in the States while complying as a witness during human trafficking investigations. ICE’s Blue campaign offers training to law enforcement for the detection of human trafficking.
As you can see, identifying human trafficking can be sticky, even for professionals. For this reason U.S. Homeland Security gives free online training for identifying human trafficking to anyone. Feel free to learn more and have a part in eradicating human trafficking.
You can also:
- Make a donation to a non-profit organization fighting against human trafficking.
- Put the National Hotline number in your phone 1-(888)373-7888.
- Remind children to be aware of their surroundings and who they talk to.
- Watch a flick: Season 2, Episode 10 of TV show Leverage; Taken (2008); Beast of No Nation (2015)
- Share a fact or information on the issue with the hashtag #HumanTraffickingAwarenessDay