Since 2007, the month of January has been observed as Sex and Human Trafficking Awareness Month per presidential proclamation. Unfortunately the epidemic has only worsened. According to the International Labour Organization, at least 20 million people are enslaved today – more than at any time in human history.
Trafficking is believed to be the third-largest criminal activity in the world, according to the FBI, and it involves both U.S. citizens and people from all over the world. In the U.S., all ages and demographic segments are being bought, sold, and smuggled as slaves; often beaten, starved, and forced to work as prostitutes or migrant workers with little or no pay.
Trafficking exploits the most vulnerable in society, and the problem can be hidden in plain sight, in your neighborhood, community or place of work. Estimates indicate approximately 80% of human trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year (up to 17,500 are trafficked into the U.S. each year) – 80% are women and girls; half are children. Once and for all, it is time to end this illegal and inhumane violation of the most basic human right.
Through awareness, prevention, and advocacy, we can help prevent domestic and global human trafficking and bring restorative care to its victims. The power is in your hands to take action today. Find out how you can help in your community, school, place of worship or in the workplace, and let’s stop what CNN has labeled “the new American slavery” in the U.S.
Check out these free resources to increase awareness about human trafficking and help fight it:
1. National Hotline: website by Office on Trafficking in Persons, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
3. Awareness Poster: This poster provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Trafficking in Persons can be downloaded, printed, and distributed in your community. Available in English, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese.
4. FAQs: Frequently asked questions about human trafficking provided by the United Nations. Includes information on the differences between smuggling and sex trafficking, the types of industries that are typically involved with human trafficking, and more.
5. Training Resources for Legal Professionals: List of services offered by the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs for attorneys that assist human trafficking victims. Includes customized technical assistance, training and professional development scholarships.
6. Interfaith Toolkit: Faith-based resources for Bahá’í, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Protestant faith communities compiled by The Washington Inter-Religious Staff Community Working Group on Human Trafficking.
7. Training Manual for Medical and Social Service Professionals: Healing the Wounds of Trauma is a core manual from the Trauma Healing Institute for facilitators and participants who care for people who have suffered. It offers a practical approach to engaging mental health principles to provide a foundation for restored lives and relationships.
8. Business Report: Hedging Risk by Combating Human Trafficking: Insights from the Private Sector is a report compiled by the World Economic Forum to help companies share best practices to mitigate their risks and help eliminate this heinous practice by highlighting insights and technology-driven interventions in the hospitality, finance, and transportation industries.
9. Restore Her Heart: This Community Health Charities’ cause helps organizations including Covenant House and Trauma Healing Institute assist victims of human trafficking. If you would like to get involved, visit healthcharities.org/trafficking.
This is a fight we can, and must win, together.