Awareness months are designed to increase the public’s understanding and show support for important topics like breast cancer and Black history. One that has gained more attention recently is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which takes place each January. Some organizations refer to human trafficking as “modern slavery” and as you will see, the two human rights’ violations have much in common.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking involves one person or a group of people exploiting someone else for forced labor or forced sex with little or no pay. Trafficked people can be children or adults, and they come from all gender identities, sexual orientations, ethnic and racial identities, and economic classes. Traffickers control them through violence and force, but also use false promises and fraud. They manipulate their targets through psychological, physical, and financial means.
Although trafficking is largely undetected, it is estimated that 24.9 million people are being trafficked around the globe. This includes forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation, and sex trafficking. Examples might include a person forced to perform manual labor on a farm, or someone forced to work as a prostitute. The majority of people who are trafficked for labor and sexual exploitation are female.
What if a Trafficked Person Gave Consent?
Traffickers often target people who migrate into countries and/or apply for work. Someone might initially accept an offer, but the trafficker later changes the terms and forces the person to continue without their consent. An initial willingness is not the same thing as being later forced to do something, and traffickers fool young, desperate, and inexperienced people into becoming trafficked.
A person does not have to move across a border to be trafficked. In many cases, people are kidnapped or tricked into debt bondage, which puts them into similar vicious circles. The latter is one of the most common tactics used by traffickers. An unsuspecting person might unknowingly believe that a new friend will provide them with shelter and food, and later be told that they must work off the debt accrued from that.
What are the Signs of Human Trafficking?
Many people who are exploited by human traffickers might not even realize that they are being controlled and abused, and others who witness the signs might also not connect the dots. Here are some signs of human trafficking:
- An overcrowded residence, with groups of confused or frightened people picked up and dropped off together
- Lights on in the residence at strange times, like the middle of the night
- One person speaking for the group of people, avoiding eye contact and the authorities, and not willing to share information.
People who are being trafficked might:
- Be in bad health, with bruises, psychological problems, and untreated dental problems
- Be in fear of the trafficker and authorities, and be afraid to tell others what is going on
- Believe that they are in debt, and receiving little or no pay
- Have limited freedom and not go out on their own.
If you suspect this kind of wrongdoing, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. You can help to fight human trafficking by hosting or participating in awareness events through local schools, businesses, and faith-based organizations. Being an informed consumer is also important – visit sites like Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor of Forced Labor to learn more.
The Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Strongly Supports Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Efforts
Human trafficking impacts tens of millions of unfortunate people and could be taking place in your own backyard. For more information, contact the Moorestown DYFS lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker. To schedule a confidential consultation, complete our online form or call our Cherry Hill, New Jersey offices at 856-210-9776. We help clients throughout Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Voorhees, and South Jersey.