January is the month where organizations, survivors, advocates, and individuals unite to raise extra awareness about the human trafficking epidemic. It is estimated that 40 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking and sex trafficking. These industries are growing at a dangerous rate, and profiting millions at the expense of victims’ lives and oppression. A few ways to honor Human Trafficking Awareness month are becoming aware of the issue and learning about the resources to get involved and help.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is forced service in which a person or group uses someone to force agricultural, domestic, or sexual labor. People involved in human trafficking are often recruited, kidnapped, or transported. They do not have the will to leave when they please, nor are they paid. These victims’ lives are in danger and are dealing with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse daily.
What is Sex Trafficking?
Sex trafficking, a very serious sex crime, is commonly referred to modern-day slavery, in which it is. Similar to human trafficking, sex trafficking is also when someone uses force, fraud, or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or minor. According to Shared Hope International, a commercial sex act includes “prostitution, pornography, and sexual performance” done in exchange for money, drugs, shelter, food, etc.
Human Trafficking Epidemic
Unfortunately, human trafficking is an epidemic happening in the United States, and it is only expanding. The top 3 states in the U.S. with the highest cases of human trafficking are: California, Texas, and Florida based on 2018 reports.
In California alone, there were 1,656 cases reported in 2018. This is a significant increase from 2012, where there were 492 cases reported. In 2017, there were 1,336 cases which led to a 24% increase the following year.
Texas ranked in second place after California for having the highest human trafficking reported cases. In 2018, Texas reported 1,000 cases related to trafficking. Texas also saw a significant increase from 2012, where it had 377 cases. In 2017, they reported 811 before reaching 1,000 cases in 2018. This led to a 23% increase.
Florida ranks in third place with 767 reported cases in 2018. Like the other two states, Florida saw a jump in the number of cases with having only 236 reports in 2012. There was a slight rise from 2017 to 2018, leading to a 23.3% increase
Human Trafficking Cases Only Getting Bigger
The number of human trafficking cases has increased in every state in America for the last 7 years, based on the data by the Human Trafficking Hotline.
Warning Signs of Victims Being Trafficked
There are warning signs that can indicate someone is being trafficked against their will. There may be physical signs, changes in behavior, mental health issues, and working conditions. Some of these signs can be as followed:
- Dressed inappropriately for age or weather condition
- Physical signs that appear to come from physical restraint
Changes in Behavior
- Unable to discuss their whereabouts
- Inconsistencies in their conversation
- Avoiding eye contact or any social gathering
- Long and odd hours of work
- Living at place of employment
- Unable to leave when they want
- No access to personal possessions
- Little children working in family restaurants
Human Trafficking Hotline
If you or someone you know possibly is a victim of human trafficking, please call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. You can also text them at “233733.” This hotline is open 24/7 and it is completely confidential.