Human Trafficking Prevention Month:

How Can You Make a Difference?

By Ana Marie Bohr, WAR, Int’l Staff Writer
January 11, 2018

Human trafficking is going on all around us. It could be happening in your very own neighborhood, down the street, or even in the local grocery store parking lot. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Human trafficking is estimated to be the third largest criminal enterprise in the world. This is not a topic we can casually brush aside or turn a blind eye to.

What is Human Trafficking, Anyway?

The U.S. State Department defines human trafficking as “the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.” Exploitation of a minor for commercial sex purposes is considered a crime even if force, fraud, or coercion is not involved. In short, human trafficking is simply modern-day slavery.

Many people think this is something that just happens overseas, or that human trafficking in the U.S. takes place only in the big cities and poor communities. Others become fearful and think it happens as seen in the movies, and only to teenage girls and young women. But the truth is that behind closed doors, things are not always what they seem to be.

Human trafficking in the U.S. happens in wealthy suburbs, middle-class towns, and rural communities, to males and females of various ages. Some are preyed upon by strangers who hang out in public places such as malls, scouting out young men and women who appear to be vulnerable. Often, however, victims are exploited by someone they know and truly trust: family members, boyfriends, classmates, or even employers.

Trafficking victims can be as young as 12 years old, or even younger. But whether adults or children, recovering victims may feel defeated and even hopeless. Most often, they need all the help and support they can get emotionally, physically, and even spiritually.

How Can I Make a Difference?

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This is the perfect opportunity to take a step of action and make a change in your community!

You may be wondering how it’s possible to make a difference in an issue that is so widespread, destructive, and seemingly hopeless.  Here are some simple ways you can get involved:

  • Get educated and learn the indicators of human trafficking so you can identify a potential trafficking victim. Good resources include public awareness materials available from the Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Be well informed. Set up a web alert to receive current human trafficking news.
  • If you suspect a trafficking situation, report your suspicions to law enforcement by calling 911 or the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
  • Host an awareness event to watch and discuss films about human trafficking.
  • Organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization.
  • Be a conscientious and informed consumer. Remember that human trafficking includes labor trafficking as well. Be aware of who picked your tomatoes or made your clothing. Consider buying Fair Trade items!
  • Help support an organization providing services to trafficking victims by donating your time, talents, or money.
  • Work with a local community group or religious congregation to spread awareness on human trafficking.
  • Check out local community organizations involved in preventative action. Get involved in a mentoring program or street outreach.

Getting Involved With Women At Risk, International

No matter where in the U.S. you live, Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) offers a variety of opportunities for you to become educated and help in pursuing our mission to end slavery.

 

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