Human trafficking is one of the most underreported crimes in the United States and Illinois ranks among the top 10 states for it. That means there are cases everyday where individuals are being exploited and taken advantage of without notice. On a global scale, the International Labor Organization estimates that 20.1 million people are victims of labor trafficking. Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received more than 7,800 reports of labor trafficking in the United States alone. Here are some tips regarding awareness toward individuals who may be victims of labor trafficking.
Common Places Labor Trafficking Can Happen:
Labor trafficking can happen anywhere no matter if it occurs in a large city or a small town. Often times, people rule out small towns because of the size of the community and the knowledge of its citizens; however, labor trafficking happens there too. Being located near St. Louis Lambert International and multiple heavily traveled interstates it is easier for victims to be transported between communities. Some of the most common places to do so are in: restaurants, barges, landscaping services, domestic work, beauty services, carnivals, farming, massage parlors, and family owned businesses.
Language & Warning Signs of Labor Trafficking Victims:
If you suspect someone may be a victim to labor trafficking, watching that person’s body language and paying attention to what they say can be key. If they use phrases like “I’m not allowed to” or seem shameful, have unusual tattoos or brandings and don’t want to talk about them, are hypervigilant in conversation, or have long and unusual hours with little to no time off – these could all be warning signs that an individual is a victim of labor trafficking.
Populations Where Labor Trafficking Occurs:
Labor trafficking can often happen to individuals who are in the United States on a Work Visa. Once they are hired, a supervisor may take their Work Visa, which is the person’s identification and proof of their status. This tactic is used as leverage to keep trafficked individuals working under harsh conditions. These traffickers take advantage of victims vulnerabilities to exploit them in a damaging way.
Hoyleton Youth and Family Services offers support for victims of human trafficking through our Healing and Loving Oneself (HALO) program. Stay tuned next week for Part II of our Human Trafficking Awareness Serious.
If you suspect someone who may be a victim of labor trafficking, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.