If you are a victim of trafficking, please contact 911 in the U.S. or 999 in the U.K. If you suspect human trafficking has taken place, please contact the Trafficking Information and Referrals U.S. national hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or in the UK 0800 783 2589 (Monday through Friday, 9-5).
What Is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking refers to trading humans for the purposes of sexual exploitation (i.e. prostitution) and/or forced labor/slavery. Anyone who transports, holds, or purchases another human is violating another person's human rights and may be guilty of trafficking.
Facts About Human Trafficking:
Victims include both males and females, children as well as adults, and occurs in areas from prostitution to immigration. In some cases, individuals are bought or sold for the purposes of harvesting their organs.
In 2000, the United Nations adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, calling attention to and creating a legally binding agreement against the practice of human trafficking. As of today, the Protocol has been ratified by 117 countries and 137 parties. Human Trafficking is illegal in those countries.
It is estimated that between 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked to the U.S. annually (TAASA). The UN estimates that there are nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries being trafficked globally today. It should be noted that due to the unlawful nature of human trafficking, these numbers are to be considered as very loose estimates.
Causes and Contributing Factors of Human Trafficking:
Often, victims of human trafficking are not in possession of their legal documents, proving citizenship elsewhere. As a result, they are not permitted to travel or flee their oppressors. Victims also often have to contend with a limited knowledge of the local language, very limited legal resources, and few or no family nearby. Victims of sex exploitation may be in love with their captors/pimps and find it emotionally difficult to leave. Many victims of human trafficking are told that they must work to pay off their passage into the country, or work to earn back their passports.
Children who have been trafficked are sometimes sold into slavery by their own parents. Trafficking of children is a very lucrative industry. Preying upon the desperate economic conditions of the child’s parents, traffickers will either buy children directly from their parents, or else convince the parents that their children will be given a better life if handed over to them. Child sex workers are sometimes seen as criminal prostitutes and so the crimes against them go unpunished. Also, children who grow up in these types of abusive conditions may form the essence of their identity around their position as a sex worker, as they have so few experiences outside of that role.
According to humantrafficking.org, victims of human trafficking may display any of the following behaviors and signs: bruises or other outwards signs of injury; excessively submissive attitude; poor personal hygiene; malnutrition; post-traumatic stress or psychological disorders; sexually transmitted diseases; and/or signs of rape or sexual abuse.
Victims of human trafficking likely have to contend with the following living conditions: living with employer; sub-standard living conditions; cramped living quarters; inability to speak in privacy; not in possession of immigration or identification documents; unpaid or significantly underpaid; and living or working establishments that are heavily guarded - barred windows, locked doors, isolated location, electronic surveillance where women are always escorted. The victim is often kept under supervision of trafficker when taken to a doctor, hospital or clinic for treatment, often with trafficker as a translator; and their living quarters are frequented by large numbers of men.
If you are a victim of human trafficking:
Seek help by calling the national hotline 1-888-373-7888 or call the local police who should be able to help you. Trafficking is a criminal offense and there are resources set up to help victims. Shelters can help you regain possession of your identification and transportation documents, assist you with medical care, advise you on economic affairs and help reconnect you with family, if that is your wish.
If you suspect someone you know is a victim of human trafficking:
Be cautious about creating more conflict for the victim. Be aware that conversations with the victim may be heavily guarded and that the victim, in many cases, will not immediately offer the truth of his/her situation. Many victims fear for their safety and the lives and safety of their families and are therefore unwilling to acknowledge their status as victim.
If you feel it would be helpful to do so, you can make a report to the national hotline (888-373-7888) on the behalf of someone you feel has been a victim of human trafficking.
The U.S. Department of State offers a global hotlines list for human trafficking victims.
The POPPY Project provides support and accommodations for women who have been trafficked in the UK.
HumanTrafficking.org focuses on combating human trafficking in the East Asia Pacific region.
The Polaris Project is working to provide services and assistance to those in need to combat human trafficking.
Made by Survivors is an organization that empowers survivors of trafficking through job training and education.
NotForSaleCampaign.org is an activist-driven site that is dedicated to abolishing slavery in the form of human trafficking.
CrimeStoppersUK is a site that allows individuals to report crimes anonymously in the UK.
Crime Stoppers USA is the US representative to the international Crime Stoppers organization. It provides resources for states and communities to set up their own local Crime Stoppers organizations.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime provides resources to countries to help combat human trafficking.
The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) provides services through its National Human Trafficking Victims Assistance program.