Last night, in the space of about an hour, 2 people on opposite sides of the planet emailed me to ask what to do about suspected cases of human trafficking.
One is a friend teaching English in Asia. She went to a respectable spa for a massage, but felt something more was going on behind the scenes and that the massage therapist who helped her was being trafficked. What were the signs, my friend wanted to know, and what should she do?
A few minutes later another friend emailed me about a suspected case of trafficking--this time in the US. Was there a number she could call? Someone to report it to? (Yes; read on.)
A few years ago I wrote a post for this blog about how to tell if someone is being trafficked--and what to do about it.
That post has received more hits from all over the world than anything I've written on this site. With so much in the news about trafficking, people are keeping their eyes and ears open--which is great.
I'm re-posting the information here. You may never need it, but just in case, you'll know where to find it. Meanwhile, please forward this to others so they'll be aware, too. You can send them to this link: http://bit.ly/aoFdn0
Some slaves are kept out of the public eye. Others are right in front of you--waitresses, nail salon workers, kids in your neighborhood, laborers you see every day. I'm not talking about illegal immigrants, but actual slaves.
How can you tell if someone is a victim of human trafficking and slavery? What do you look for?
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, here are clues to help identify a trafficking victim:
- Accompanied by a controlling person or boss; not speaking on own behalf
- Lack of control over personal schedule, money, I.D., travel documents
- Transported to or from work; lives and works in the same place
- Debt owed to employer/crew leader; inability to leave job
- Bruises, depression, fear, overly submissive
Asking the right questions will help to determine if the person is a victim of trafficking. Here are key questions to ask:
- What type of work do you do?
- Are you getting paid? Anything taken out of your pay?
- Can you leave your job if you want to?
- Can you come and go as you please? Are you afraid to leave? Why?
- Have you or your family been threatened?
- What are your working and living conditions like? How are you treated?
- Do you have to ask permission to eat/sleep/go to the bathroom?
- Are there locks on your doors/windows so you cannot get out?
- Has your identification or documentation been taken from you?
In the US, if you think someone might be a trafficking victim, call the National Trafficking Resource Center hotline at (888) 373-7888. It's open 24/7. In another country, call one of these hotlines.
To learn what Born to Fly International is doing to stop child trafficking, visit www.born2fly.org.
Photo: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department