What is human trafficking?
Webster defines human trafficking as ‘an organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited (as by being forced into prostitution or involuntary labor)’.
This can take place anywhere in the world and can affect any race, any age, any gender and any economic status.
There can be different types of trafficking, such as:
a family member trafficking the victim in and from the home
the victim allowing themselves to be trafficked purely to survive
international or domestic
being controlled and exploited by a gang or pimp.
slavery/forced labor, sexual exploitation, organ removal (a pediatric heart can fetch up to $250k on the black market)
A lot of information that we have learned has been from the website of a survivor of sex trafficking. You can find out more about her story here: https://www.jessacrisp.com/
Could this really be happening near me?
Yes, it really could. Sadly, there are parents who could be selling their child or children from their own house. Often, victims are exploited in plain sight; at a legitimate working location such as a nail salon, spa or massage parlor, at nearby hotels, at the airport or as part of a sex ring in an apartment complex etc.
You could have rubbed shoulders with a victim at some point in your life and you did not know it. Some victims even go to work or school during the day. The chances are that you probably own merchandise made by a victim of trafficking. You can check your slavery footprint at https://slaveryfootprint.org/
How might a trafficker be choosing his/her victims?
The vulnerable are most at risk; the homeless, immigrants, people who have been abused in the past, the poor, babies, toddlers, children, teens, women, orphans, children in foster-care, children that are neglected at home, children at school, runaways, women seeking a relationship etc. Traffickers are skilled at spotting vulnerabilities in people. They can trick and blackmail anyone, and sometimes they choose a person and 'groom' them over a longer period.
Social media sites are easy pickings for traffickers searching for their next victim. A vulnerable person can soon be enticed with promises of their dreams being fulfilled or just by being told what they want to hear. Traffickers use trickery, bribes, romance and whatever lies it takes to ensnare their victims. As social media is largely a domain for the younger generation, children, especially teens, are always at risk.
What can I do besides praying for the victims?
The website from the organization, Operation Underground Railroad (https://ourrescue.org), is full of helpful information. On their website, there is an option to ‘join the fight’. Especially useful is the ‘get training’ option. This takes you through an excellent 10-part training video that will teach you about spotting the signs of human trafficking and how and when to report it in a way that will keep you and the victim safe. Upon completion of the 10-part series and easy to answer Q & A's, you will receive your own certificate. It really is wonderful, and it is free. There is no time restriction as there is an automatic save option which allows you to stop and start whenever you like, so you won’t lose your place or progress.
Educating yourself and talking about human trafficking with your family, friends, co-workers, students, and any other contacts will help spread awareness about this issue. Bringing this horrendous evil into the light will help to make a difference and could be the means of one of the victims being rescued. Talk with your older children and teenagers. Make them aware of this issue so they do not fall into the hands of a scheming trafficker and teach them what they can do if they think they or a friend have become a target. A list of helpful organisations and their websites can be found on our 'LINKS' page; these will help you learn much more about this global issue.
You can also find a trusted organization and support them in the ways they most need; this could be, for example, financially or through volunteering etc.