I have heard about Human Trafficking this past week more than I ever have before. First, last weekend there was the capture of traffickers involving a trafficking ring in California, Nevada, and Texas. This exposure helped to save many girls' lives. Then later in the week, there was a Facebook post shared by a girl about a new tactic used by traffickers to obtain new victims. Never before have I seen Human Trafficking (HT) talked about this much in such a short amount of time, in what people would refer to as the "main stream" media. I am very glad that HT is being discussed more and having more light shed upon it, as it is the worst crime.
I, personally, have learned a lot about HT, and would like to share my knowledge with others to continue to bring it into the spotlight. In fall of 2016, I had an internship with the HT Taskforce of New Jersey. I worked under the Assistant Attorney General assigned to the taskforce, Tracy Thompson. There, I learned the very basics of HT to the nitty gritty laws that help protect its victims and prosecute its criminals. The most important basic to know is that HT has two sub groups. The first is sex trafficking, this is the version that people are mostly aware of because of movies, such as Taken, or different stories on the news. The second, is labor trafficking, which is less known, but just as brutal. While I interned there, I watched videos of both kinds and heard some stories. There is no way I can ever imagine surviving that, but people have, and that is incredible. However, these people should not have even gone through it in the first place. So many people suffer from HT, especially children, but it can still happen to anyone, which is why I want to share some of the tips I learned to help prevent HT, or save people who might be trafficked.
When going to through everyday life, it may be hard to identify a victim of HT, but it is possible. A few weeks ago, I shared an article on Facebook about a flight attendant that saved a girl's life because she noticed the signs, communicated non-verbally to the girl, called the cops, and broke a case on a whole sex trafficking ring. Noticing the details and taking action is all it will do to save one or maybe several people's lives from the worst violation of human rights that exists. The details can include what the person does for work. If this person works weird hours, can not break free from their work, or if they are not compensated well for their work, then there may be something unusual there. Next, are the mental and physical states of the person. Watch out for someone who is depressed, anxious or afraid, has many injuries or looks to have been abused, and/or looks to be deprived of food and water. A few other things that may be notable are if the person is confused, wants to be in control, or is confused about where they are. Some traffickers might even leave a mark or brand on their victims. The most important thing to do if you see these signs is to notify someone right away. In NJ, if you are concerned, but do want to call the police right away, we have a HT hotline that can be called. They can give you more information on how to proceed.
I really hope that this has reached people and that you have learned how to take action. Many people asked me while I was interning why there are not more cases involving HT or how it occurs on such a grand scale in the world. The answer to that is simple. There is only very little that the police can do in situations where the crime is hidden as much as HT is. That means that rarely are there cases where the traffickers are caught, prosecuted, and sent to prison. It does happen and more so in recent years, but not as much as one would like. When I worked with Ms. Thompson, one of the major components was the exposure aspect. By spreading the word and educating people, that is how we can stop Human Trafficking. It is the job of every single person on this planet to help save these innocent people. The more educated we are about how to stop traffickers and spot victims, the more we will be able to save survivors.