An innovative new program at San Francisco International Airport will train airport personnel to identify and stop human trafficking on commercial airlines.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier and David Palmatier of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched the landmark program with a training and introductory event at SFO on Monday.
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"It is absolutely unacceptable that trafficking -- the modern day slavery of the 21st century -- not only exists but is thriving both domestically and throughout the world," said Speier in a statement. "Disrupting traffickers' unhindered access to air travel through training of airline and airport personnel is an essential step in closing the door on this horrific crime."
According to Speier, about 800,000 people are trafficked internationally, including 100,000 to 300,000 minors in the United States, each year. Human trafficking is also one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world.
The program, a part of Airline Ambassadors International, offers industry specific training that helps flight attendants and airport and hotel employees spot the signs of trafficking.
Monday's event included an introductory course with Airline Ambassadors International trainers, including trafficking survivor and Sojka Foundation founder Petra Hensley. "They strip your identity, they take away everything you have left," said Hensley at the event. "And you're just being exposed to what they want." Hensley was kidnapped in the Czech Republic when she was just 16.
"Having been through this awful ordeal myself, being trafficked, I have a deep desire to help others escape from the monsters who are dealing with buying and selling human beings," said Hensley to ABC News.
Speier hopes the program will eventually be adopted by airports internationally to stem the tide of human trafficking around the world.
Watch ABC's video for more on the program:
CORRECTION: An earlier version stated that SFO's program was the first in the nation. However, a similar program existed before SFO's at Miami National Airport.
More:San Francisco Impact Human Trafficking Sfo Sex Trafficking Airline Ambassadors International Human Trafficking Airports
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