For the past few years I have been making an attempt to put the topic of human trafficking in your news feed on a fairly regular basis. It can be hard to tear your mind away from the issues you are dealing with in your life and actually focus or care about people who are being forced into labor or sex, but I think that it is important to do it.
My interest in human sex trafficking started at some point in my teen years. I was fascinated by love and sex, and so the idea that there were people who routinely and ruthlessly stripped others of their innocence made me so angry. Now that I have a daughter, the idea that someone would look at her as a means for their own gain is horrible. My daughter should be able to grow up, start a career, fall in love and raise a family. No one has the right to take that from her because they want money.
But that happens every day. The average age of a person sexually trafficked is 13, and their expected lifespan is 7 years. That means that thousands of people’s daughters and sons are having their futures stripped of them right now at the hands of criminals who think people are commodities.
I do say that to scare you, because the reality of it is scary. But I want to encourage you too. Human trafficking is becoming a hot topic, and organizations are springing up all over the country and world to help rescue victims and shut down trafficking rings. The world is becoming better informed, and therefore victims are more likely to be rescued.
I care about their freedom because if it were someone I loved, I would want to go all Liam Neeson and rampage the world until I got them back. But I don’t have that particular set of skills. What I can do is know what to look for, I can teach my kid that trafficking happens and how to spot it, and I can clog up your news feed with ways for you to be informed or get involved.
Learning how to spot signs of trafficking is just a good skill, like learning the heimlich or CPR. If you notice any of these things call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1.888.3737.888 (a good number to save in your phone):
- Seems anxious, fearful or paranoid. Avoids eye contact.
- Tearfulness or signs of depression.
- Unexplained bruises or cuts or other signs of physical abuse.
- Appears to be in a relationship with someone who is dominating.
- Never is alone and/or always has someone translating or answering questions on their behalf.
- Not in control of their own finances.
- Presents with secrecy or unable to answer questions about where they live.
- Inconsistent details when telling their story.
- Has no identification such as a license, passport or other ID documents.
- Inability to leave their job or residence. Says they cannot schedule appointments.
- Being a recent arrival to the United States and does not speak English.
- Is under 18 and providing commercial sex acts. Or at any age unwillingly providing commercial sex acts.
- Is afraid of law enforcement or receiving help from an outside entity.
You may never run into this, but let me tell you, the director of North Star Initiative recognized these traits in a woman while shopping and ended up busting a huge trafficking ring. You never know.
I blog for The Exodus Road because I care about freedom enough to give some of my time and effort to raising awareness. If we all give a little bit, learn a little bit, care a little bit, we can make a huge difference in the lives of someone’s child, sister, or friend. We can help give them back the future that had been taken away from them.