National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. It is a key time for everyone to educate themselves about slavery and human trafficking and to learn to spot the signs of trafficking. It is also a time for us to make sure these messages get out to our community. 

General Indicators

Trafficking victims are often lured into another country by false promises and so they may not easily trust others. They may:

  • Be fearful of police/authorities
  • Be fearful of the trafficker, believing their lives or family members’ lives are at risk if they escape
  • Exhibit signs of physical and psychological trauma e.g. anxiety, lack of memory of recent events, bruising, untreated conditions
  • Be fearful of telling others about their situation
  • Have limited freedom of movement
  • Be unpaid or paid very little
  • Have no passport or mention that someone else is holding their passport

Sexual Exploitation

Be aware: ordinary residential housing/hotels are being used more and more for brothels. People forced into sexual exploitation may:

  • Be moved between brothels, sometimes from city to city
  • Sleeping on work premises
  • Display a limited amount of clothing, of which a large proportion is sexual
  • Display substance misuse
  • Be forced, intimidated, or coerced into providing sexual services

Forced Labor

Where all the work is done under the menace of a penalty or the person has not offered himself voluntarily and is now unable to leave. They may experience:

  • Threat or actual physical harm
  • Restriction of movement or confinement
  • Withholding of pay or excessive reductions
  • The threat of revealing to authorities an irregular immigration status
  • Their employer is unable to produce the documents required
  • Poor or non-existent health and safety standards
  • Pay that is less than minimum wage
  • Dependence on the employer for services
  • No access to the labor contract
  • Excessive work hours/few breaks

Child Abuse

You may notice a child that is:

  • Often going missing/truanting
  • Secretive
  • Has unexplained money/presents
  • Experimenting with drugs/alcohol
  • Associating with/being groomed by older people (not in normal networks)
  • In relationships with significantly older people
  • Taking part in social activities with no plausible explanation
  • Seen entering or leaving vehicles with unknown adults
  • Showing evidence of physical/sexual assault (including STD’s)
  • Showing signs of low self-image/self-harm/eating disorder

Domestic Servitude

A particularly serious form of denial of freedom; includes the obligation to provide certain services and the obligation to live on another person’s property without the possibility of changing those circumstances. They may:

  • Be living and working for a family in a private home
  • Have no bedroom or proper sleeping place
  • Have no private space
  • Be forced to work excessive hours; “on-call” 24 hours a day
  • Never leave the house without the ‘employer’
  • Be malnourished
  • Be reported as missing or accused of a crime by their ‘employer’ if they try to escape

If you are a victim of human trafficking or have a tip about a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.