April 27, 2018
“He asked her to have sex with a man for money. He told her that it would be just once and that it would be fun. He begged her and she just wanted to make him happy. He told her that she belonged to him… This became a cycle.”
To most, “Julie” seems like a typical high school girl who has s boyfriend that seems mysterious and looks a bit older than her. Over time, you may notice changes in her appearance, mood, and activities. She may appear to have heightened anxiety around her boyfriend, who seems to be exerting subtle control over her. Do you see her?
“Julie” is just one of the estimated 40.3 million people who are in modern slavery around the world today. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking), with 24.9 million people who are in forced labor. Sexual exploitation is the most commonly identified form of forced labor, which disproportionately involves women, children, and young girls.
“The problem with human trafficking is that of course the victims are silenced,” says Monique Villa, the CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which fights human trafficking. Many cases go unreported, so it is not possible to get an exact number of how many people are being exploited. By knowing how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to report it, more and more victims will be lead to the freedom.
“An increase in reports will lead to an increase in victim identification.” – A21
So you may be saying to yourself, “I want to help, but how do I know when this is going on?”
A21, a non-profit organization that works with government authorities and the public to bring an end to modern day slavery, has launched a new campaign called “Can You See Me?” The purpose of this campaign is to help “the general public know how to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and to report suspected scenarios. Through collective action, human trafficking identification and rescue will increase making it difficult for traffickers to operate.”
“When a lot of people do a little, it adds up and makes a difference.”
– Christine Caine, A21 Founder
“What we have done today is launch a campaign not only aimed at government officials and police but at ordinary people … they can rescue anyone … that means that children, men and women who previously had no voice, now have the opportunity to be seen.” – Malina Enlund, A21 Thailand County Manager
A21 is part of a growing anti-trafficking movement that has now seen legislative results. Due to the bi-partisan efforts of Congress and the Department of Justice, legislation has recently been passed, signed into law by President Trump, and enforced to bring down online perpetrators of sex trafficking. This new legislation will make the reporting of suspected trafficking by ordinary citizens even more effective.
In your everyday life, you could be interacting with individuals being trafficked in “seemingly innocuous situations.” Watch and share these videos of different scenarios. Each video page will give you a backstory, the signs to be aware of, and the law. You could be the one to help bring freedom to even just one victim of human trafficking.
Always contact your local police authorities if you see that someone may be in immediate danger. To request help or report suspected human trafficking, you can also call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or text HELP to: BeFree (233733).