Just in case you missed it! National Human Trafficking Awareness Day was on January 11th, 2022. Here is a little piece of awareness for this month.
Recently, I had a phone conversation with a woman who was interested in our organization’s work with survivors of human trafficking. That is basically what I do most days being the Executive Director of a start-up non-profit. As I was talking to her, she asked “What is human trafficking?” Having had this exact conversation hundreds of times over the years. I gave her my typical spiel using the classic definition of sex trafficking, “It’s the use of force, fraud, coercion, or intimidation to get a person to engage in sexual services or exploitation for money, goods, or a service.”
I followed that up with some examples that were obvious of course. Such as, a young woman has a pimp, and she is intimidated, coerced, or forced to have sex with men for money and all of her money goes to her pimp. Maybe he is transporting her across state lines or using social media to exploit her. This is the sex trafficking definition, I think, we all have come to know and understand it to be.
However, I continued in my examples and said, “What if you are a 16-year-old girl and your mom is coercing you to have sex with the landlord this month because she can’t pay the rent?” Is this sex trafficking? We go back to my generic sex trafficking definition and can conclude. Having a roof over your head for the next month would be considered a good. A person, in this case, a teen provided a sexual service for a good who was being trafficked by her mother.
As I was sharing this example of sex trafficking, I could hear the woman’s shock behind the phone. She replied, “Wow! I didn’t know that?” Yes, that is what we like to call Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking or Commercial Sexual Exploitation of A Child or Familia Sex Trafficking. Human Trafficking is multi-faceted! This is why the definition of Human Trafficking can encompass so many different things from labor trafficking to sex trafficking or minor sex trafficking. It has many faces.
There are resources and organizations that provide research on human trafficking. The most prolific organization that researches and helps to guide the conversation is the Polaris Project. They are the go-to organization for many in the human trafficking field. Polaris Project also operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1 (888) 373 -7888. This number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you believe someone is a victim/survivor of human trafficking you can call for help or report an incident.
My hope is through my writing, I can share with you my experiences helping, counseling, and advocating for survivors of human trafficking. Educating yourself about human trafficking is the first step towards identifying it and sharing your information with others. You too, have a part to play in ending human trafficking! Check out Polaris Project