Sunday, September 6, 2015

Remember Human Trafficking Victims This Labor Day

In the United States, Labor Day was approved as a legal holiday in 1894. It is a day to pay tribute to the contributions of workers, and to remember the sacrifices that led to improved safety and working conditions. It's also a good day to learn about a form of labor that sadly still exists in the United States and the rest of the world: slavery and human trafficking. We can learn to recognize the warning signs of labor trafficking and help put an end to this practice.

Modern-day slavery often occurs in plain sight, in businesses ranging from farms to nail salons. Domestic servants and door-to-door sales crews --whether foreign nationals or United States citizens -- may be victims of trafficking. According to the International Labour Organization, women and girls make up 55 percent of trafficking victims worldwide. Ninety percent of trafficked individuals are exploited in the private sector, and 68 percent of these victims perform forced labor in areas such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and domestic servitude.

Traffickers use tactics such as intimidation, lies, violence, and recruitment debt to keep trafficked laborers in slavery. The most vulnerable people --- migrant laborers and runaways, for example -- are often enticed with false promises of prosperity.

Fortunately, everyone can learn the warning signs of labor trafficking. Informed people can learn to spot the signs and report a tip without endangering themselves or the victims. Here are a few indicators, among many others, that a worker may be a victim of trafficking:

  • Worker is not allowed to speak without a third party
  • Worker does not have control over personal identification documents
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts or location
  • Appears malnourished or physically abused
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Reluctance or fearfulness at the topic of law enforcement
  • Vague or inconsistent information about employer
Find out more about reporting suspected trafficking at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center web page. There you will learn important information, including how to report a tip using the hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to BeFree (233733). 

Knowledge is power, so let's set aside some time this Labor Day weekend to learn about this illegal and abusive form of labor. We really can make a difference!


Olivia said...

Awesome blog Judy !

You have indeed shone light on a subject that thrives in the dark.

Judith C Evans said...

Glad to see you here, Olivia! Thanks for the kind words.

Cecilia Marie Pulliam said...

Excellent post, Judith! This is a situation too few realize exists in our society, and it is far more prevalent than most imagine. I found the numbers staggering when I was doing research for my books. The descriptions of the horrific circumstances many live in are frightening . As with the missing and exploited children, public awareness is a huge step in stemming this tide of exploitation. Good job!

Judith C Evans said...

I agree, Cecilia -- this issue hides in plain sight, so public awareness is definitely key. Thanks for visiting and commenting!