January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human trafficking is a crime that knows no barriers, gender, age, or otherwise. Human Trafficking involves women, men, and children who are exploited for profit – usually for labour or sexual activity by another individual – by force, fraud, or coercion.
Labour trafficking refers to Recruiting, harbouring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for labour or services through force, fraud or coercion for involuntary servitude and debt bondage.
Sex Trafficking refers to Recruiting, harbouring, transporting, providing, obtaining or soliciting a human for the purpose of engaging in a commercial sex act.
Most traffickers do not abduct their victims off the streets or from shopping malls. The reality is that many survivors were not kidnapped or physically forced into a situation.
Most traffickers use psychological means such as tricking, defrauding, manipulating or threatening their victims into providing commercial sex or exploitative labour. Many survivors were trafficked by romantic partners, including spouses, and by family members, including parents.
Traffickers may try to control the victim through violence, rewards, punishments, control of basic needs, drugs, money, or the promise of a wanted romantic relationship. These actions typically don’t happen overnight as the process may be gradual.
Potential red flags
- Has limited freedom of movement
- Constantly has someone at their side who seems in control
- Is not allowed to speak for themselves
- appears fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous, or paranoid.
- Seems to have changed their habits, behavious, and activities.
- protects a person who appears to be controlling or abusive
- works long or unusual hours
- shows signs of substance abuse or addiction
- distance themselves from family and friends
- shares scripted, confusing or inconsistent stories.
- has a new boyfriend or girlfriend
- shows signs of poor hygiene, malnourishment, fatigue, abuse or physical injuries.
- Has few or no personal possessions
- has tattoos on their body (possibly their neck or back, which is often branded by their trafficker)
If the above signals are seen and someone is suspected to be a victim of Human Trafficking, it is important to help the person and inform the authorities.