Most individuals are aware of human trafficking, but many are not mindful of how big of an issue it really is! People are being charged every week for human trafficking, but why is the public kept in the dark about this ever-present problem?

While slavery has been deemed abolished in history, human trafficking is the modern-day slavery. It brings billions of dollars to criminals’ pockets but keeps roughly 20.9 million people hostage. The breakdown according to the International Labor Organization: 26% are children and 55% are women and girls. It is also predicted that that 1/6th of runaways are likely victims of sex trafficking—an alarmingly high rate. Unfortunately, the rate of sex trafficking victims is only increasing despite efforts to end it.

Recruiting methods of sex trafficking and labor trafficking victims can come as a shock. The top recruiting methods of sex trafficking victims are through intimate partners or marriages, followed by familial relationships, benefactors, fraud, and followed up by job offers. Labor trafficking recruitment is topped by job offers, followed by fraud, familial relations, smuggling fraud/coercion, and posing as a benefactor.

It is our duty as citizens to be aware of the signs of human trafficking; you never know when you will be face to face with human trafficking. There is a small chance we may bust down a major human trafficking ring, but we may come in contact with an individual who is a victim of human trafficking. The Polaris Project gives up these warning signs:

Common Work and Living Conditions: The individual(s) in question

  • 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
  • High-security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)

Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior

  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact

Poor Physical Health

  • Lacks health care
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

Lack of Control

  • 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)

Other

  • 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

Check out this map of predicted human trafficking hot spots. Notice something? It’s all around us.

Don’t ignore the warning signs, and don’t ignore the problem! Be alert and stay educated!