Human trafficking is a major crime that affects about 1 million people each year. There are many ways human trafficking can happen and there are many ways law enforcement is trying to reduce the crime. Educating everyone and learning the signs victims show can help rescue and find victims of human trafficking. It may be difficult to locate victims, but awareness groups and charities can help fund research and rescue missions. Knowing victims may be ashamed could prevent law enforcement from locating them and letting them know it’s not their fault by public awareness could give them courage to come forward.
Human trafficking is a crime with individuals that are abducted or coerced into situations for forced labor such as prostitution, agricultural, debt bondage, or factory work. Anyone can be a victim of this and should be aware of their surroundings. Knowing the signs and symptoms of human trafficking can help save lives. Everyone should educate themselves to help reduce human trafficking, protect potential victims, and help bring victims home to their families. Law enforcement should be specifically trained and have a few more agencies to help locate and reduce the frequency of this crime.
Victims of human trafficking are sometimes hard to find. There are many reasons that these victims can be hard to spot. Victims of human trafficking tend to not self-identify. These victims might be in denial of their situation because they were forced into exploiting themselves for sex or labor. These can make them feel like slaves as well as make the traffickers feel like they are in control of their victims. If the victim goes along with what they’re told to do, the traffickers have all the power they need to continue to control them. Victims may also be afraid of both law enforcement and retaliation from the traffickers on either themselves or the victim’s family. Victims could be afraid that police officers may be in on the trafficking and if they say something to try to help themselves, the traffickers or law enforcement might go after their family to keep them as a slave.
Victims may not tell anyone about their situation because they might feel ashamed of themselves. If they were forced into prostitution or something similar, they might feel dirty and ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen to them and embarrassed that they were unable to get away from these traffickers before they participated. There’s a possibility that a victim might have Stockholm Syndrome and feels some sort of feelings for their abductor or traffickers. They might feel safe around them and might want to help them abduct more victims. There are many articles online about victims of crimes having Stockholm Syndrome. Sometimes victims fall in love with their captors and sympathize with them. Other reasons victims might not self-identify is because they may not speak the language. If the victims were trafficked out of their native country, there may be a language barrier, which would make the victim unable to communicate with the natives.
It’s important for law enforcement and the people of the public to know what human trafficking is and how to notice the signs of a human trafficking victim. Law enforcement officers need to be able to recognize the signs of human trafficking if they happen to come across it in their line of duty. They need to know what the legal definition of human trafficking is and how to identify victims. Identifying victims of human trafficking might include looking past the crime and illegal activities, to find trafficking victims rather and the traffickers. Victims of human trafficking might be found and abducted inside five-star hotels, sporting arenas, airports, etc. These are all public areas that are heavily populated, yet victims are still being abducted.
The public needs to be educated on the signs and symptoms of human trafficking because there could be millions of people watching out for victims. Signs to watch out for are minimal clothing, poor and no access to their passport or visa, victims that are disoriented, a person seen with many young children, anyone that insists on paying in cash only and refuses to use a credit or bank card, minimal contact with others, tickets to multiple destinations, victims with mental or physical abuse, and anyone that seems overly anxious to arrive at their destination. Although most victims or traffickers may show these signs, others may show no signs altogether. This is how they keep their “work” hidden. Technology also helps spread awareness, but it can also help to spread sex trafficking. Some places have been known to have hidden cameras that traffickers use to help them abduct their victims.
Victims of may be held while being physical, sexually, and mentally abused. Health care workers are trained to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of human trafficking. Health symptoms of trafficking might include STDs, forced abortions, anxiety and depression, and PTSD. Some other indicators include malnourishment, bruises, and cuts. Victims may seek help for minor injuries, which gives the health care professionals a position to access the situation and determine how to help these individuals. It can be difficult to identify the victims of human trafficking, but there are physical and mental indicators that are red flags for health care professionals. Other red flags that health care professional would look for is victims that have been neglected and intimidated for long periods of time. They might be shy and unable to look anyone directly in the eyes. There are protocols in hospitals to ensure the victims are safe, medically, and legally sound.
There are several federal investigative agencies responsible for pursuing human trafficking crimes: Immigration, Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the prosecutors in the Department of Justice. In order for these agencies to determine if the suspicious activity is human trafficking, they might set up surveillance cameras, stake out suspicious areas, and raid and search locations for potential victims. Task forces may provide specialized training to law enforcement to help them understand what they are looking for. If training for human trafficking was put into the cadet training, more law enforcement might be able to help search and raid potential trafficking locations. Foreign individuals that have been trafficked into the United States are required to have a visa to be able to stay in the United States. Because they are victims of human trafficking, it’s very difficult for them to obtain these visas. It’s possible that most of the immigrated victims work in agricultural or prostitution. Both of those types of work do not usually require any documentation for the victims to be able to work.
After a good amount of research, I believe there should be an awareness group out there for victims of human trafficking that allow the public to be better educated about the crime and the signs a victim might show. It also might help if there was a charity to help fund the research and education of human trafficking victims, and a program for rescued victims to help them cope with their past and to prepare for their future. Doing these won’t stop human trafficking completely, but it might reduce it a bit and give law enforcement some extra time to continue investigating and searching for victims. There are already several task forces out there dedicated to the investigation of human trafficking and I don’t believe adding more would help that much. I also think there should be a training course for all officers or law enforcement whether they are on these task forces or not. Education on human trafficking should be mandatory for everyone in law enforcement. No one can force the public to listen to the education, but classes or seminars should be made available for the people that would want to learn about it.