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Slavery Still Exists

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It’s the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some form of labor or commercial sex act. And it still exists today:

  • 49.6 million people are estimated to live in slavery worldwide.¹

  • $236 billion is generated by traffickers every year. For comparison, this is more than Walmart, Visa, Amazon, Google, and Apple make combined in a year. ²

  • Due to the lack of public awareness, limited aftercare services for survivors, unfavorable laws, and not enough frontline workers being trained about human trafficking, less than .5% of victims leave their trafficker. This means that over 99% remain in captivity worldwide according to the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report.

  • Human trafficking is recognized as the fastest growing criminal industry³

While great strides are being made to combat this destructive crime, there is still more work to be done.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Know The Signs

Human trafficking is a nuanced issue, and while there is not always a single indicator of a case, there are some signs you should be aware of. If you witness or suspect human trafficking, or you are personally being trafficked, call the toll-free, multilingual, 24-hour National Human Trafficking Resource Center & Hotline: 1-888-373-7888

Signs of Human Trafficking

  • Living with employer
  • Unsuitable living conditions
  • Inability to speak to anyone alone
  • Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
  • Employer is holding identity documents (driver’s license, passport, social security card, etc.)
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • Submissive or fearful
  • Signs of neglect or malnutrition
  • Group of individuals with identical markings or tattoos
  • Sudden changes in appearance and/or behavior
  • Unable to leave locations without an escort
  • Not paid the legal amount for work
  • Juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts
  • Has stopped attending school or discontinued regular activities
  • Transportation is provided by employer
  • Disoriented or utilizing illicit drugs
  • Wages are unlawfully garnished to pay off a debt
  • Lack of personal possessions
  • Unreasonable safety measures placed on the individual and place of residence

Want to learn more about human trafficking and how you can make a difference? Schedule a seminar with Greenlight Operation, listen to our podcast, and read our blog.

Know Their Stories

In the anti-human trafficking field, it’s common to hear phrases like, “human trafficking can happen to anyone,” or “it’s happening in our backyard.” But while these statements are technically true, they don’t capture who the majority of trafficking victims are: people stuck in vulnerable situations.

According to Polaris, vulnerable situations include:

  • an unstable living situation
  • poverty or economic need
  • a history of domestic violence
  • a history of sexual abuse
  • having a caregiver or family member who has a substance abuse issue
  • having an addiction to drugs or alcohol
  • being a runaway or involved in the juvenile justice or foster care system
  • being an undocumented immigrant

These situations are often complicated, messy, and may be difficult to spot. But as Polaris reminds us—”it’s not knowing the signs, it’s knowing the story” that matters.

Knowing someone’s story means knowing where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re heading. It means knowing people, not just picking up on non-contextual clues. This often takes more time and effort than assessing someone based on indicators, but it can prove more effective in the long run. If you want to fight human trafficking well, get to know people—especially those that might be in vulnerable situations.




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