“As defined under U.S. federal law, victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of "labor or services," such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will. The factors that each of these situations have in common are elements of force, fraud, or coercion that are used to control people.”
For over 20 years, the owners and staff of a turkey-processing plant subjected 32 men with intellectual disabilities to severe verbal and physical abuse. The company housed the workers in a “bunkhouse” with inadequate heating, dirty mattresses, and a roof in such disrepair that buckets were put out to catch rainwater; the infestation of insects was so serious the men swatted cockroaches away as they ate. Although the men were as productive as other workers, the company paid them only $15 a week (41 cents an hour) for labor that legally should have been compensated at $11-12 an hour. The employers hit, kicked, and generally subjected the men to abuse, forcing some of the men to carry heavy weights as punishment and in at least one case handcuffed a man to a bed.
Mauri was only 16 years old when she was prostituted on the streets of Honolulu, Hawaii. For her, there was no escape; her pimp threatened to kill her family if she did not go out on the street night after night to make him money. If Mauri tried to use some of the money to buy food, she was severely beaten.
Thirteen year old Natalia was told by her parents she was moving to the U.S. with family friends who would allow her to receive an education and learn English. Born and raised in a small village, Natalia’s family was struggling to pay the school fees for their children’s education and welcomed the opportunity for Natalia to receive an education in the United States. Shortly after she arrived in the US, the father she was living with began to physically and sexually abuse the young girl, creating a constant environment of fear for Natalia. For the next six years she was forced to clean the house, wash clothes, cook, and care for their three children, often working 18 hours a day while receiving no form of payment. She was never allowed to enroll in school as the family had promised, go outside, or even use the phone.
What is happening:
Trafficking occurs in over 150 countries worldwide with an estimated 20.9 million men, women and children trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor. There is a growing clarity on the connection between trafficking and the power of you and I to end exploitation. The US Department of Labor has identified over 120 goods produced with forced labor, child labor, or both, in various countries and we can help end forced or child labor (http://www.free2work.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/DOL-Tainted-Goods-2010.pdf ). Human Trafficking in the U.S. is a $9.8 Billion industry with at least 100,000 U.S. children exploited in prostitution every year.
Sex trafficking exists within the broader commercial sex trade, often at much larger rates than most realize. Sex trafficking has been found in residential brothels, hostess clubs, online escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution. 13 is the average age when a child is first exploited through prostitution. 70% of sex trade victims have experienced physical or sexual abuse in their homes. It is estimated that 48% of men use pornography once a week or more.
Labor traffickers use violence, threats, lies, and other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will. Some forms of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farmworkers coerced to harvest crops, travelling sales crews, or factory workers. (http://www.polarisproject.org/resources/resources-by-topic/labor-trafficking )
So what can we do?
*We need to become familiar with the kinds and signs of trafficking. (See ‘red flags’ below) *We need to confront and report trafficking when it is found.
Trafficking Hot Line: 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733)
*We need to avoid participating in activities that promote human trafficking. Research your favorite stores sources for products, ask them questions, and act on what you discover.
*We need to help educate others. Use the resources suck as provided by the Polaris Project (www.polarisproject.org ), Shared Hope International (http://sharedhope.org/ ), or governmental agencies. Perhaps set aside a week to focus on trafficking, create presentation for church groups, create partnerships with anti-trafficking groups, or …
Red Flags that someone might be a victim of Trafficking (not all will necessarily be present):
- Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
- Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
- Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
- Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
- Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
- Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
- Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
- Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
- Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
- Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
- Avoids eye contact
- Lacks health care
- Appears malnourished
- Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
- Has few or no personal possessions
- Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
- Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
- Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
- Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
- Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
- Loss of sense of time
- Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
Myths and Misconceptions about Human Trafficking: http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/overview/myths-and-misconceptions For instance, human trafficking is different from human smuggling, human trafficking does not necessarily involve transporting individuals, there does not have to be physical force, bondage, or restraint used, and victims won’t always admit to being trafficked nor ask for help.
Polaris Project which offers statistics, information on State efforts, speakers and more. www.polarisproject.org
Shared Hope International which has statistics, contact with ‘on the ground’ shelters, and The Defenders program (men taking a stand against trafficking). www.sharedhope.org
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/index.html?ref=menuside
The Federal Bureau of Investigation on trafficking: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/human_trafficking
Department of Homeland Security on trafficking: http://www.ice.gov/human-trafficking/
Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 can be found at: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/10492.pdf
US Government Trafficking in Persons Report:
This is the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking. You can find reports at: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/
*The statistics on this sheet come from US Government agencies, the Polaris Project, and Shared Hope International.