Human Trafficking Awareness
What do you know about Human Trafficking?
January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, taking place amid National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month, which was designated by Presidential Proclamation beginning in 2010. Today is a day to raise awareness and money to help fight human trafficking – a substantial worldwide problem. Not sure what human trafficking is or how you can make a difference? Keep reading to learn surprising facts about this horrific and illegal industry, how one of TRUE’s models, Janel, is making a difference, what organizations and efforts are working to combat this problem, as well as what YOU can do to get involved and to make a positive impact!
What is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking is a modern form of slavery that forces people into performing tasks against their will and typically under horrific circumstances. While sex trafficking is one of the more common known types of human trafficking, trafficking for labor and for organ harvesting also occurs.
Where does Human Trafficking Occur?
Everywhere! One of the biggest misconceptions about human trafficking is that it is an issue specific to developing and third-world countries, but that is not true. Human trafficking is occurring everywhere – including the United States. Not only are people being brought to the U.S. against their wills, but there are also trafficking rings that are moving people from the U.S. to other countries. Additionally, many of the people being targeted are those that are underprivileged or in desperate situations such as: runways, the homeless, or those who have lost everything due to natural disasters.
Why are organizations that raise awareness and money to fight Human Trafficking so important?
With so many efforts and organizations out there, it can be overwhelming and hard to distinguish which ones are making a difference and are best aligned with your own perspectives. But, the very fact that there are options is a testament to the power of raising awareness and getting involved! Take your time and research organizations that speak to you and then make an informed decision to become involved with the group of your choosing. Every group will have its own objective and mission statement – some are more focused on interrupting and preventing human trafficking, while others aim to assist and rehabilitate the victims of this industry. Without organizations that focus on various parts of the process, as well as raising awareness and funding, less would be known about and done for this underground practice, which would only further escalate the problem.
Meet TRUE’s Model Janel
With so many causes and concerns that need attention in the world, what brought your attention and efforts towards raising awareness about Human Trafficking?
Janel – Prior to working with human trafficking survivors, I served the special needs population as a teacher, advocate, and health care aid. My brother has autism and has always inspired me to stand up for individuals without a voice. The special needs population, as well as people at risk and survivors of human trafficking, all need a voice.
How did you first get involved?
Janel – I was attending a Natalie Grant concert in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania when she shared with us that modern slavery exists and we could fight against it with her organization Abolition International. My heart sank. I remember when I heard about slavery when I was in 5th grade, that I told my teacher I would’ve helped on the underground railroad. Here we are in 2016 with more slaves than anytime in world history, and when we thought we had conquered the issue. I searched for ways to get involved, but not much was going on in Pennsylvania, although trafficking is an issue there as well. When I moved to NYC, I was determined to find a way to fight trafficking.
What organizations do you support and why?
I support all of them because I can become directly involved by teaching English and the TASC exam to survivors through RestoreNYC, and I help with sales of the products survivors make through elegantees and Nomi Network.
Can you share some of your experiences with and/or efforts in raising awareness and funding for Human Trafficking victims?
Janel – I’ve had both positive and negative experiences. I’ve seen a lot of the products sold and money raised for these organizations through galas and pop-up shops. I’ve met many wonderful people that come together for this cause and make it happen, but I’ve also been shut down many times.
Many people don’t believe that trafficking is an issue in the United States. They don’t want to know and even worse many believe that all the women chose that lifestyle. Some people have gone as far as to suggest that money is being wasted to help foreigners coming into our country. But, that is simply not true. They don’t’ realize that it is happening in their backyard, which can be very disheartening.
What recommendations do you have for anyone who wants to get involved and help to make a difference in fighting Human Trafficking? (Both small and large and in NYC as well as elsewhere)
Janel – There are many ways to become an advocate for people at risk and survivors of human trafficking. You can become directly involved with the nonprofits I mentioned above, and look into others that are listed on the Polaris project website. You can purchase items made by survivors and spread awareness by giving them as gifts or telling their story when people ask about your garment or accessory. You can run a race and raise money and awareness for a non-profit that you prefer. It was hard for me to accept that more people don’t want to be involved because they don’t want to think about the issue or get “too dirty,” but the ways I listed above are great ways to get involved and are manageable for many. Remember, every bit helps! We need everyone! We can fight this industry and make a difference together!
- There are more human slaves in the world today than ever before in history.
- 75-80% of human trafficking is for sex.
- An estimated 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year from abuse, disease, torture, and neglect.
- 80% of those sold into sexual slavery are between ages 6 and 24.
- Human trafficking is not just motivated by sex or labor – people are also trafficked for organ harvesting.
- An estimated 27 million adults and 13 million children around the world who are victims of human trafficking.
- UNICEF estimates that 300,000 children younger than 18 are currently trafficked to serve in armed conflicts worldwide.
- Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.
- Most human trafficking in the United States occurs in New York, California, and Florida.
- California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas on the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
- In approximately 54% of human trafficking cases, the recruiter is a stranger and in 46% of the cases, the recruiters know the victim.
- About 52% of human trafficking recruiters are men, 42% are women, and 6% are both men and women.
Organizations and Campaigns: