ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — Thursday is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. In 2013, the UN adopted a resolution designating July 30 as the day, declaring that it was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
According to a report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in December 2016, women and girls comprise 71% of human trafficking victims. According to the International Labour Organization, around 21 million people are victims of forced labor globally, and of these, a significant number are also trafficking victims.
The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking:
Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations.
More locally, the number of cases is increasing. New York has moved from the state with the fifth-most reported cases of human trafficking in 2016 to the fourth highest in 2019. Although the numbers did slightly drop for 2019 from 2018, there were still 454 cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in New York State. In Massachusetts, 107 cases were reported in 2019, while Vermont had 9.
There are many organizations that are attempting to supplement the fight of human trafficking. One such organization is Operation Underground Railroad. “Unfortunately, child sex trafficking and online child exploitation are the types of crime you have to proactively search for in the deepest, darkest corners, which means more time and more resources,” says Tim Ballard, founder and CEO of OUR.
He goes on to list ways that every county and state can better address the issue:
In order for our country to effectively continue to fight child sex trafficking, every unit should have a forensic mobile lab, electronic detection K9, and advanced training. This is something that we have yet to see in every county and state. Taking even more resources away will be a step backwards in this fight to end modern-day slavery.Tim Ballard
You can read the full letter from Ballard below
OUR specializes in empowering law enforcement and aftercare partners around the world with the tools and resources they need to better address trafficking in their communities. One major objective is to assist law enforcement to confront the demand for sex by providing tools, resources, and training to improve law enforcement’s ability to identify, investigate, gather incriminating evidence, and prosecute sexual predators. OUR Aftercare focuses on survivor healing and empowerment programs with a primary focus on eliminating the vulnerabilities that increase the likelihood of being trafficked.
How can you help? There are many resources online that provide training, with many available for free or low cost. Some sources of training and information include:
- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- Operation Underground Railroad
- Darkness To Light
There are also key indicators of human trafficking that have been outlined by Homeland Security. Recognizing the signs is the first step in identifying victims, and can help save a life. You can download or order the Blue Campaign indicator card, a small plastic card that lists common signs, and including directions on reporting the crime.
- Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
- Has a child stopped attending school?
- Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
- Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
- Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
- Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
- Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
- Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
- Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
- Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
- Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
- Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
- Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?
Not all indicators are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking. Contact your local law enforcement agency if you have any information on any crimes again children or human trafficking.
You can also report suspected human trafficking to federal law enforcement at (866) 347-2423, get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline—(888) 373-7888—or text “HELP” or “INFO” to BeFree (233733)