“In a country that is riddled with bipartisan separation on so many things, slavery seems to come up as one of those issues we can all agree upon,” Ashton Kutcher said in a 2017 human trafficking speech before Congress.
We all agree on it: slavery is the worst. It’s a major infringement on human rights, and it’s completely unfair. So now for solving this thing.
Let’s begin with what we know. We know that trafficking is systematic. We know most traffickers employ the same tactics, so we can stop it. We know that traffickers are smart, and we know their tactics are fool-proof. We know it’s beyond hard to get someone to safety once they’re trapped, so we need to be rigorous, we need to be effective, we need to be gutsy.
We need every tool in the shed.
One of the best ways to prevent trafficking is to know how to outsmart a trafficker. An article from CNN breaks trafficking schemes down into five categories. There is pretending, or faking trustworthiness, such as when a trafficker pretends to love someone. Traffickers also provide clothes or shelter or promise a better life to lure in even the smartest individuals. Taking control through force or intimidation is called protecting. Worst of all, the trafficker punishes victims using “violence and threats.”
Sex trafficking often occurs at hotels, and victims are likely to be spotted at major events and at quick stops, such as convenience stores. Signs of sex trafficking include when a person (the victim) refuses to meet eyes with anyone, when an older man is spotted with younger women who aren’t related to him, and when a person refuses to talk and is instead spoken for by someone older.
As for labor trafficking, it is most likely to occur with businesses that aren’t government regulated, such as lawn services, house cleaning, babysitting, and even criminal business, like stealing. Labor trafficking often happens under the threat of blackmail, and it is difficult to spot in the United States.
In countries without labor laws, labor trafficking is, of course, much more frequent. One of the ways Americans can stop forced labor overseas is to buy products labeled “fair trade.” To stop it in the US, look up the suppliers of your everyday needs first to verify trustworthiness and fair practice.
If you see a business that doesn’t seem legit, it’s worth reporting. Businesses that spread through word of mouth are more likely to recruit people for trafficking than advertised businesses. Also, watch out for call-outs for models, dancers, and massage therapists, because these ads can be made by sex traffickers. Remember that it’s worth it to report suspicious material to the Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888, just to be safe.
We’ve all heard “she looked 16.” The phrase is used when a person finds their partner is actually under the age of consent, creating a legal issue. Online dating, hookups, prostitution, and sex trafficking situations can set the stage for it. The popularity of this phrase testifies to the fact that lying about one’s age is more frequent than ever in the era of the Internet. That’s because it’s easier than ever to lie, which is why sex trafficking of underage people occurs online so often. So be careful, and report anything suspicious. Also, remember involvement with a sex trafficking victim has major consequences, no matter how old they say they are.
Sex trafficking, we know, takes place when a victim is under threat, while prostitution is commonly viewed as more of a choice. The prostitution business can and often does, however, overlap into the human trafficking business. This is mostly because prostitution businesses tends not to follow business regulations, since prostitution is illegal in all states but Nevada. This leaves room for workers to be taken advantage of. As mentioned earlier, illegal businesses are more likely to be the culprit of trafficking due to their disregard for labor laws.
So what else is there to do? We can start by joining clubs, giving to organizations, volunteering, and raising awareness by doing whatever we do best. There may be a lot on our hands, but if we go hard enough, we can end modern day slavery. And last of all, if you see something, say something. The Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888, and there are lives to save.