“The truth is, human trafficking takes places in all segments, in all types of locations, and at any time,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA, a global network of civil society organizations dedicated to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
It’s hard to believe that sex trafficking is happening right wherever you live. It may come as a shock, but human trafficking ranks at number 3 in world crime, generating billions of dollars in profit. Unfortunately, this is only continuing to grow—crazy, right? Especially considering all the resources that exist to fight trafficking.
The U.S. Department of Homeland security specifically defines human trafficking as ”modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” These victims are women, girls, boys and men of all ages, all from different backgrounds.
The difficult part of this underground world is that it’s obviously a hidden crime. It continues to happen 365 days a year, at any time of day, and in any city, or suburb. Not to mention, it could be happening in your very own neighborhood. You name the place, and it’s probably happening. Still not convinced?
You’ve likely passed by a victim of human trafficking at some point
Victims of sex slavery are everyday people, just like us. Someone could be sold or transported to a potential client right in front of you without you even realizing it. It also happens in the places you may visit on a semi-regular basis, such as:
These are just a few examples, however, and often, it can be hard to tell who’s actually a victim of sex slavery.
Victims choose to remain silent for a handful of reasons. Whether it’s suspicion of authorities, fear, simply lacking awareness of actually needing help, or they are simply afraid that their trafficker will accuse them of lying, these are all valid reasons to take into consideration.
What are the signs of someone potentially being trafficked?
- Poor hygiene
- Little to no identification
- They are paid very little or nothing at all
- Live and work at the same location
- Work long hours, no breaks
- Bruises or signs of abuse
- Appear to have their communication controlled or restricted
- Inconsistencies in their stories when speaking about themselves
- Lack of confidence in themselves
- Fearful/anxious toward law enforcement or authority
Not only do these signs indicate a potential victim, but these signs can bring awareness to your own personal surroundings or community, another huge help in a trafficking situation.
Sometimes, ending human trafficking can feel hopeless or too big to handle by yourself. This gives us the perfect opportunity as a generation to step up as a team, and play a part in making a difference by recognizing and report the signs of modern-day slavery.
Take action, show compassion, write details down, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to report something that seems suspicious.
According to a report by TIME magazine, “Victims and tipsters can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to “BeFree” or 233733. All calls can be made anonymously. If a victim is in immediate danger, authorities urge people to call 911. Concerned citizens should not confront a suspected trafficker or alert a victim to any suspicions, experts say.”
Can porn normalize this behavior?
Absolutely! These two topics can be heavily linked with one another, and the sad part is, too many people have no idea.
A click to one porn site might be doing more damage than someone may realize. Choosing to consume porn can also be choosing to support potential traffickers that are filming and selling these videos online. The demand for porn is high, making it more likely and acceptable for traffickers to exploit vulnerable people in the process of creating content. Not cool.
If someone chooses to watch porn, it’s really hard for them to know if the person on the computer screen has actually given their full consent. We’re not claiming that all porn is non-consensual—only pointing out that some is, and some isn’t, and it’s not always possible to tell the difference between the two. However, this is something we want to shed light on.
We are a non-shaming community and we believe in the power of fighting for real, genuine and authentic love. If we choose to fight together, for the ones who can’t fight for themselves, we’ll be able to be a part of an incredible change and hopefully witness results firsthand.