Human Trafficking Prevention Month: What Is It? Who Is Vulnerable?

As the New Year celebrations end, January initiates the start of Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human trafficking is a faceless, ageless, and sexless crime that does not depend on social status or socioeconomic factors for the crime to be committed. Human trafficking is a challenge to prevent, but why is that? Have you considered what you know about human trafficking? Do you also display the same vulnerabilities our survivors once did? Do you know proactive prevention methods that could help you and raise awareness within your community? Check out these stories from survivors of Human Trafficking to see how human trafficking affects both ends of the society spectrum.

“Trafficking is found in areas of poverty and social unrest just as in areas with high rise buildings and neatly trimmed lawns. Bedar’s family owed money, and had no way to pay it back due to the civil war disrupting all trade in their city. He was offered a job in another part of the country, which would help his family pay back their debt. But when he arrived, his new employer took his identification, refused to let him leave the premises, and refused to pay him, saying he owed him for travel costs. He was forced to work 12-14 hours a day, with little food, and in unsafe conditions. He still thought it was a real job, and always expected to someday repay his employer and start receiving wages, but it was a trap. There was no way out.”

“Ashleigh lived in the suburbs and attended a great school. She didn’t really talk to her parents, but she was involved in extracurricular activities and regularly achieved high grades in her classes. She loved listening to music on her phone and staying connected with friends online. She started missing some classes and always looked tired when she attended. Her friends couldn’t hang out with her on weekends anymore, because she was always busy. She started isolating herself and becoming depressed, though no one knew why. No one knew she had met a “friend” online, who had tricked her into thinking that he loved her and wanted a life with her, but only if she helped him make money for them. He didn’t need to tie her up. He had manipulated her so effectively he had her chained up in her mind. She thought it was her choice and that she had no one to go to. Life in the suburbs does not mean safety.”

Human trafficking can be best defined as modern slavery. Human trafficking is stated by many sources to require the exact same thing as modern slavery: the supply and demand of people. Statistics are clear:  50% of human trafficking victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation. The American Association of University Women created a cheat sheet that explains sex and labor trafficking, how human trafficking is disproportionately biased against women, and how human trafficking affects the United States here. While sex and labor trafficking aren’t the forms of human trafficking, they are the most common. 

How can we protect ourselves against human trafficking if it is indeed faceless and nameless? Prevention can only occur once we are knowledgeable of the vulnerabilities. While there are many vulnerabilities that incentivize human trafficking, Libertas Home will focus on the four that appear to be the most common in this crime:

  • Mass Displacement
  • Extreme Poverty
  • Power Inequality
  • Objectification of Human Beings

Each week during Human Trafficking Prevention Month we will discuss in depth how these vulnerabilities may look within your community and how you can help protect not only those already affected but also the prevention of this crime in the future.

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Ashley Ingram