Human Trafficking Awareness Month

In San Diego, sex trafficking brings approximately $810 million in generated revenue.  California is one of the top four states in the US for Human Trafficking and San Diego has been listed as one of the 13 cities that is a high intensity child prostitution area by the FBI.  So what do we do about it?

Understand what Human Trafficking is and what it isn’t

There are various forms of trafficking also referred to as the modern day slavery.  Women, Men, and children can be exploited and forced into the commercial sex trade.  The traffickers will use drugs, fraud, threats, and coercion to control the victims.  In the United States any minor under the age of 18 is automatically considered a victim of sexual trafficking when they engage in commercial sex acts.  Many times the victims have been promised jobs as models or nannies, the men jobs as agricultural or construction workers only to be used as a sex worker to pay off some form of “debt”.

Domestic Servitude appears to be normal live in help but the situation often becomes one that they are unable to leave.  Documents are taken from them, they are refused pay or given extremely limited amounts of money.  They create an environment of isolation and are easily exploited because law enforcement is not able to inspect or search a private home in the same manner they can a private business.  Forced marriage is also a form of domestic slavery.

Labor trafficking is the most common form of Human Trafficking in the world.  Migrant workers are especially susceptible  to this form of enslavement.  They are recruited in their home land while looking for economic opportunities and ways to help out their families.  For example a group of men will be recruited as fishermen and are taken out to sea.  There they are told they owe such a high debt repayment is impossible.  This debt becomes  generational and is passed down to their children forcing them in to slave labor.  Many boys and children are kidnapped and forced to produce products many that we find in many of our supply chains.  In the US a labor trafficking victim will often enter on a student based visa program only to be forced into labor at a sweat shop.

Be Aware And Look For Warning Signs of Trafficking

  • Evidence of being controlled either physically or psychologically.
  • Inability to leave home or place of work.
  • Inability to speak for oneself or share one’s own information
  • Information is provided by someone accompanying the individual
  • Loss of control of one’s own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Have few or no personal possessions
  • Owe a large debt that the individual is unable to pay off
  • Loss of sense of time or space, not knowing where they are or what city or state they are in.
  • Skin or respiratory problems caused by exposure to agricultural or other chemicals.
  • Infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and hepatitis, which are spread in overcrowded, unsanitary environments with limited ventilation.
  • Untreated chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
  • Reproductive health problems, including sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections, pelvic pain and injuries from sexual assault, or forced abortions.
  • If you see any of these red flags, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

    Become A Smart Consumer of Products

    “On April 24, 2013 the Rana Plaza building collapsed claiming the lives of 1,134 garment and factory workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is considered the deadliest garment factory accident in history. Eighty percent of the workers were young women, 18-20 years of age. Their standard shift was 13 to 14 ½ hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00-10:30 p.m., toiling 90 to 100 hours a week with just two days off a month.”

    Walmart, JCPenney, and The Children’s Place are US based stores that had contractors in that building.  The store Forever 21 has come under fire by the International Labor Rights Forum for not joining retailers like American Eagle and GAP in the commitment to not buy cotton made in Uzbekistan where child labor takes place.

    It is our job as consumers to stop purchasing and creating a demand for products that are produced by slave labor.  We need to start demanding that companies use slave-free supply chains.

    Made In a Free World is a great website to inform and help provide you information on becoming a better consumer of products.  We encourage you to take the Slavery Footprint Survey.

    WRC’s Role

    As an agency WRC provides training to our staff and volunteers about Human Trafficking.  This training will help us identify when a person calls the hotline or walks through our doors for services.  WRC will provide Case Management, Counseling, and even Confidential Shelter for trafficking victims.

    On January 19th WRC will be participating in a forum put together by North County Lifeline at Rancho Buena Vista High School. For more event details click here.

    If you or someone you know is in need of help or more information regarding Human Trafficking you can reach WRC’s hotline at 760-757-3500.

    Additional resources:

    Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition  http://www.bsccoalition.org/

    Polaris Project  https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking

    End Slavery Now  http://www.endslaverynow.org/

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