Helping Human Trafficking Victims

Human trafficking is a crime that unfortunately happens around thegirl-human-trafficking globe, and not just in the U.S.  Not only are women often exploited, men and children often become victims as well.  Age isn’t a factor, as unscrupulous people who gain financially from the abuse of those who are vulnerable may sexually exploit people of all ages.  In 2015, a CNN documentary titled “Children for Sale:  The Fight to End Human Trafficking” revealed that human trafficking is a growing epidemic not only in our country, but Atlanta, GA in particular.  The world of sexual human trafficking is an extremely dangerous one, and unfortunately this is the world of many victims.  Thankfully, there are compassionate people all around the world who are working to put an end to this atrocious epidemic.

A form of modern day slavery, human trafficking involves for the most part women and children who are forced into working in the sex trade by criminals.  According to Polarisproject.org, there are more people in slavery in our modern day society than existed during the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  How can we help bring an end to the abuse and exploitation of innocent individuals who are essentially “used” for the sexual satisfaction of others, along with the financial gain of criminals?

Whether you live in Michigan, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Dallas, or any area in the U.S., it’s important that residents know how to determine if human trafficking may be taking place in your own community.

– Indications that someone you know is being sexually/physically abused, confined, restrained, or tortured

– Nervousness or unease when a person is asked about his or her immigration status or background, where he/she lives or is from, or when the topic of law enforcement comes up

– Suspicion that a person is enduring physical neglect or suffers malnutrition

– An individual in your community has visited and/or lived in several locations over a brief time period

– Employees reside in the same building or often together, stay after the end of their workday or shift, or are transported by an employer in groups

Any unusual or suspicious activity should be reported to law enforcement.

Know where sex trafficking victims operate.  Often times those who are being abused and used for sex work in establishment that operate as massage parlors, modeling studios, escort services, bars and/or strip clubs, even adult book stores.  Additionally, it’s not uncommon to find individuals who are forced into acting as “sex slaves” in the restaurant and custodial industries, on construction sites, in sweatshops, fields, canneries, and other circumstances related to commercial agriculture, and in the domestic service industry, for example those who work as nannies or maids.

How can you safely help someone you suspect is a victim of human trafficking?

First of all, never become personally involved as you may put the life or safety of the individual you are attempting to help in jeopardy.  Protect yourself and the potential victim by reporting your suspicions to the NHTRC (National Human Trafficking Resource Center) at 1-888-373-7888 or by calling the local police.  If you fear immediate danger, dial 911.

You may also report suspicious activity to the Dept. of Homeland Security at 1-866-347-2423, or submit a tip via the Internet at www.ice.gov/tips.

Communicate with your local or state government by writing or meeting with representatives to inquire about what is being done in your community to fight human trafficking, and to let these agencies know you want to be involved in combating human trafficking.

Start or sign a human trafficking petition, write a letter regarding human trafficking in your city to the editor of the local newspaper, receive the latest news regarding human trafficking by setting up a Google alert.

Business can do their part by providing jobs, skills training, and internships to survivors of sexual human trafficking.

Law enforcement officials should start a local task force focusing on human trafficking, or join an existing task force.

If you suspect human trafficking is a problem in your community, there are public awareness materials available at the Dept. of Homeland Security of Dept. of Health and Human Services you may want to distribute.

Create and host an event to increase awareness of human trafficking in your neighborhood, city, or community.  It’s often helpful to hold a discussion regarding a recent human trafficking documentary, or on a larger scale, you may want to consider a human trafficking film festival to raise awareness and get more people in your area involved.

Rescued Victims of Human Trafficking

Helping find victims of sex trafficking is important, but it isn’t enough.  Many children and adults have been traded for sex many times in a single day.  Victims are often brought in from another country and may not even speak the native language.  Once rescued, victims may have drug addiction issues, sexually transmitted diseases, and a whole host of other medical and/or mental issues to deal with.

It’s natural for law enforcement to want immediate answers to their questions and details of the abuse so they can apprehend those involved in human trafficking, however most important is that victims first receive crisis counseling and basic services.  Those who have been trafficked are likely to have anxiety, memory issues, and may be re-traumatized by having to interview with police right away.  An individual who has the opportunity to receive counseling and social services will generally make a more effective witness in court.

What can attorneys do to help human trafficking victims?  Learn more about this epidemic and look for signs of trafficking among your clients.  Offer legal benefits to victims, and consider pro-bono services to victims of human trafficking or anti-trafficking organizations.

As you can see, there are countless ways each of us can help human trafficking victims of sex crimes – and the suggestions above are just the tip of the iceberg.  Research more about this serious and growing problem online, and help innocent victims get out of the hell that has become their lives.