By Chris Karenbauer
Human trafficking is the force, fraud or coercion of people to work for little to no pay or provide sexual favors for others. To be considered human trafficking, “force, fraud or coercion” need to be present, except in the case of minors. Human trafficking is involuntary service, often includes some kind of blackmail, and traffickers target vulnerable individuals.
Sex trafficking is more well known than labor trafficking. Sex trafficking is when a trafficker manipulates people, often young girls, to provide sexual service for others.
We often hear of labor trafficking happening to immigrants. But it also happens to people who are being trafficked to work in the textile industry – like in a factory – or in customer service – like nail salons and massage parlors. If you visit these places, you may have come across a victim of labor trafficking.
Human trafficking is far more prevalent than we think. So, how do we combat it? Can we help save someone who is being trafficked?
Based on my research, there is not much we can do if we come across a victim of human trafficking. Chances are the victims do not realize they are being trafficked, and if they do, their traffickers have complete control over their lives, and they may be too scared to speak up for themselves.
Mandy Reed of Dear Dinah advises that you should not get involved. Do not insert yourself between a trafficker and the victim. You will do more harm than good for both you and the victim. Traffickers will make the victim’s life harder by adding work, beating them, or emotionally tearing them down.
If you can’t intervene for a victim, what can you do? The simplest solution is to call local law enforcement, but calling the police could be a hit or miss. Depending on the region you are in, the police can only do so much to stop labor trafficking. Traffickers are cunning, and if they know that the police are after them, they could move out of state and away from the local police’s jurisdiction, or they could create a cover up so they would not get caught.
If you do suspect someone you have met is being trafficked, you can call The National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a 24/7 call service that helps victims get connected with services so they can get help. The number is toll free, and it provides information on human trafficking – both sex trafficking and labor trafficking. You can also call the number to report a tip if you suspect someone is being trafficked.
Other ways you can help victims of labor trafficking is to join an organization that advocates against human trafficking. You can volunteer at an organization or simply donate to its cause.
Here are some popular human trafficking nonprofit organizations:
- ZOE is a Christian nonprofit that reaches victims of human trafficking around the world. They provide restorative care and training for children who have been trafficked.
- Freedom Network USA is a nonprofit organization that advocates against human trafficking.
- Polaris Project is a nonprofit organization that houses The National Human Trafficking Hotline. It works exclusively on human trafficking by providing information on human trafficking and resources for victims of human trafficking.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of human trafficking, please call The National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or visit its website at humantraffickinghotline.org.