Often we think of human trafficking as being sex crimes, but it includes more than that. It includes forced labor and forced marriage. The actual definition of human trafficking involves the use of force fraud or coercing to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. It is important that we identify all of the potential human trafficking elements that are out there.
The International Labor Organization estimates that this multi-billion dollar industry affects about 40 million people around the globe and an estimated 25% of those being children. It is believed that COVID-19 and the situation that we are currently in has only exacerbated the human trafficking epidemic for children. One reason for that is the lockdowns can reinforce isolation, as well as the financial or housing insecurity of those children.
In advance of World Day Against Trafficking (July 30, 2020), Tami Reier and Amanda Greenwood discuss the human trafficking epidemic and what we can all do to help stop this global crisis.
World Day Against Trafficking is July 30th
There will be a large campaign aimed at getting people to understand the signs of what to look for in someone that might be being trafficked. A person being trafficked may display some or all of these signs:
- They are in some sort of a situation where they're being controlled, so they may be unable to speak or move freely.
- They might appear scared or anxious, often they do not make eye contact.
- A lack of identification, travel documents and/or possessions. They may be traveling with little to no luggage, which doesn't make sense for the potential journey that they're on.
- Look at their physical health; is there evidence of abuse, potentially poor hygiene? Are they acting thirsty or malnourished? Are they severely fatigued? Often they might not have a clear understanding of their whereabouts.
- They might not be able to recite their address or they may seem disoriented.
- They may be protective of the person that they're with.
What to do if you feel something isn’t right
It is not recommended that you get directly involved, because that not only puts you in danger, but it also puts the person that is being trafficked at risk.
A lot of the major brands have protocols in place. If you have concerns and you're on an airplane, for instance, you could notify the flight attendant, or if you're in a hotel you could alert the front desk. Chances are very good that they have processes in place when somebody brings this to their attention.
If there's an emergency or someone's in immediate danger, then it's recommended to call 911 or the emergency number in the country that you're located in.
We recommend all travelers should save the National Human Trafficking hotline in your cell phone. If you save the below into your phone, you wouldn’t have to look it up and it’s there in your contacts to reach out.
In the US that hotline is (888) 373-7888, or you can text the word HELP to 223733.
Another interesting app is called TraffickCam. When you're traveling, you can upload photos of your hotel room to the app. Then investigators can cross-reference those images to pictures that are online of those being trafficked. It helps them more easily pinpoint where that person could potentially be.
Supporting the cause at home
If this is a passion or of interest we advise you to get involved with an organization that really speaks to you and speaks to your heart. There are local national and global nonprofits that are offer support to survivors that would benefit from your time or resources.