Human Trafficking and Slavery Awareness and Prevention Month
January 2012 is Human Trafficking and Slavery Awareness and Prevention Month, a reminder in the new year that modern-day slavery continues to plague our country and our communities.
An estimated 27 million human trafficking victims exist around the globe. Though many of us believe slavery in the United States ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, sadly, thousands of victims trapped as modern-day slaves live in our country today as well. You may have already encountered a victim of trafficking – as the nanny you see at the park each week, or one of the construction workers you see at the site across from your office building. As modern-day slaves, they cannot move about freely and they cannot speak up about their circumstances. This is why each of us must speak up about human trafficking – to raise awareness about it, and to help clear up the myths surrounding it so we can shed light on horrific violations of human rights.
3 Myths About Trafficking
Myth: Human trafficking only happens in other countries.
Fact: Trafficking happens here, and places like New York City are top destinations for trafficked persons. This ugly reality is possible because of the high number of international airports and waterways, the high concentration of immigrant populations along with homeless young people, and many industries that require little identification among their workers. These conditions mean between 300,000 and 1 million trafficking victims suffer enslavement within our borders.
Myth: Sex trafficking is the main purpose of human trafficking, and only young women are victims.
Fact: Trafficking victims can be children, women, men, and transgendered persons, and they can be used for forced labor as well as sex trafficking. At Safe Horizon, 60% of trafficking survivors that we and our partners have helped have been trafficked for labor. A significant proportion of sex trafficking victims have been male and/or transgendered.
Myth: People who are trafficking victims tend to be weak and submissive.
Fact: Many trafficking victims seek to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Yet circumstances such as joblessness, lack of economic opportunities, and the desire for citizenship can become leverages that traffickers use against their victims. Traffickers employ physical, mental, and psychological abuse and violence in order to coerce, humiliate, and shame their victims, and they create fear and mistrust of law enforcement, strangers, and even of other victims in those they abuse. Because of abuse, trauma, and self-blame, otherwise ambitious and resourceful individuals continue to be slaves.
Fight Human Trafficking: Anti-Trafficking Program
For the last decade, Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program has provided a multi-layered response to fight and prevent human trafficking. We provide trafficking survivors with comprehensive services; we train and educate law enforcement, government, and other nonprofit agencies so they can identify and refer victims for services more effectively; and we advocate for better policies and practices on behalf of victims, including collaboration at federal and local levels. Safe Horizon has supported survivors from over 60 countries, survivors compelled against their will into forced labor and the commercial sex industry.
The U.S. Senate and U.S. presidents have given prominence to the Anti-Trafficking Program’s mission. Yet the epidemic of modern-day slavery can only be eliminated when the public demands action on this crime. You can help combat human trafficking and bring about change on this local and global issue.
Human Trafficking: How You Can Make a Difference
Speak up about trafficking: Join our growing online community of support to end the silence about human trafficking. You can also raise awareness about modern-day slavery among your friends, family, and community.
Look for the signs of trafficking: Victims can work in any type of job, but there are common factors to indicate they are being trafficked, such as:
- Having limited or no social interaction
- Receiving little to no monetary compensation
- Being restricted from leaving their location unaccompanied
- Working long hours with few or no breaks
- Experiencing verbal, psychological, sexual and/or physical abuse
If you suspect someone is living under slave-like conditions, call the Anti-Trafficking Program at 718.943.8631.
Give freedom and safety to a survivor: Your donation to Safe Horizon will give trafficking survivors legal and social services, shelter, and counseling. Most important, you can give them the safety and the freedom they deserve, and help break the chains of slavery. Learn how you can help today.