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Bringing Hope and Continued Awareness to Human Trafficking

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In 2010, President Obama declared January “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and every year since, each president has followed the tradition. The month is dedicated to raising awareness about different forms of human trafficking, ways to support trafficking survivors, and educating the community about the issue. Additionally, today, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. 

According to the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families, human trafficking is a largely hidden crime involving one or more people exploiting another person for labor, services, or commercial sex. The trafficker uses force or violence, fraud, false promises, or coercion and manipulation to lure victims and exploit them through physical, financial, or psychological means. There is no profile of a trafficked person, as it effects people from all economic, racial, and ethnic identities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. Both adults and children can be trafficked. However, it is reported that human trafficking disproportionately impacts Native American, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and LGBTQIA+ communities.  

From a 2020 sex trafficking report written by Samantha Davey of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the FBI reports that 57.5% of all juvenile prostitution arrests are Black children. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that 62%, or more than half, of confirmed sex trafficking victims, are African American. Traffickers tend to target Black women with a low socioeconomic status. In an interview with the Urban Institute (Rights 4 Girls), traffickers admittedly believe trafficking Black women would land them less jail time than trafficking White women if caught.  

Being aware can save lives. According to Hope for Justice, modern slavery is happening in our communities, and being able to spot the signs and knowing what to do, could make a life-changing difference. While these things may not always be a sign that someone is being trafficked, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has a very long list of indicators to help identify victims. Below are just a few indicators:         

  • Appearing malnourished
  • Appearing injured or having signs of physical abuse
  • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and law enforcement
  • Responding in manners that seem rehearsed or scripted
  • Lacking personal identification documents
  • Lacking personal possessions 

Additionally, the below further breaks down the indicators by types.  

Signs of forced labor Signs of forced sexual exploitation (Adult or Child) Signs of domestic servitude
Excessive hours, forced OT, few or no breaks Sleeping on work premises Not eating with the rest of the family
Poor or non-existent health and safety standards Limited amount of clothing and/or inappropriate clothing of a sexual nature No bedroom or proper sleeping place
Abusive working conditions Seen entering or leaving vehicles with unknown adults (child) Forced to work excessive hours, on-call 24 hours a day
Intimidation and threats, or physical violence Secretive behavior or unexplained money/presents (child) Employer reports person as missing and/or accuses of criminal activity if attempts to escape

 

While California continues to be one of the top-ranking states of human trafficking, so are Georgia, the District of Columbia, Nevada, and Florida, to name a few. The Human Trafficking Hotline serves victims and survivors of human trafficking across the U.S. The hotline is available 24/7, 365 days a year, and in more than 200 languages. Individuals can also report a tip and seek services, such as housing, food, medical, mental health, dental services, and legal services. The number is 888-373-7888, or you can text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733. Callers can dial 711 to access the hotline using TTY. Lastly, individuals can email help@humantraffickinghotline.org.

 

 

Article Written by: Janet DownsJanet Downs is an instructor with over 20 years of experience, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations. She volunteers and is a resource for the homeless community and is working towards starting her own non-profit. She’s passionate about mental health and seeks to bring more awareness to the black community. She is active in church ministry, a writer, and loves music, hiking, and travel.

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