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Take Action – Signs of Human Trafficking

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. We couldn’t have started 2013 in a better way, empowering you to stand up for those who can’t defend themselves.

The United Nations estimates that 700,000 to 4 million women and children are trafficked around the world for purposes of forced prostitution, labor and other forms of exploitation every year. An estimated $7 billion dollar annual business, victims of trafficking are subject to gross human rights violations including, rape, torture, forced abortions, starvation, and threats of torturing or murdering family members.

Latinos are among the largest demographic to fall victim to sex and labor trafficking cases, lured by the promises of a better life outside their economically damaged countries. Thirty-seven percent of Latinos are sex trafficked and 56 percent are labor trafficked victims in the U.S., according to the Department of Justice. Within the percentage of citizens being trafficked for forced prostitution in the U.S., most are Latinas under the age of 25.

But there’s something you can do. By being aware and knowing the red flags and indicators of human trafficking you can help identify the victims. I encourage you to “look beneath the surface” in all situations they encounter and to be vigilant for potential instances of human trafficking. If you see any of the following signs you must call the National Human Trafficking Hotline number, 1-888-373-7888 (English) 888-80-AYUDA (Spanish) immediately:

Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question
  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes

  • Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts

  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager

  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips

  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours

  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work

  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off

  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work

  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)

Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid

  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement

  • Avoids eye contact

Poor Physical Health
  • Lacks health care

  • Appears malnourished

  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

Lack of Control
  • Has few or no personal possessions

  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account

  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)

  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)

  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address

  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in

  • Loss of sense of time

  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

I also encourage you to support, follow and stay informed of this issue by joining the efforts of the organizations below:

  • Don’t Sell Bodies is an organization founded by Salma Hayek and Jada Pinkett Smith in efforts to raise awareness about exploitation of girls and women around the world. Visit their BILINGUAL website for resources, information and stories from the survivors. You can follow them on twitter and Facebook too.

  • Stop Child Trafficking Now is based in NYC but has walks all over the country. You can follow them on twitterand Facebook to see what they are doing to stop the demand.

  • The End Trafficking project is the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s initiative to raise awareness about child trafficking and mobilize communities to take meaningful action to help protect children. In partnership with concerned individuals and groups, the End Trafficking project aims to bring us all closer to a day when there are ZERO exploited children.

Download resources to find out how you can help End Trafficking:

Connect with End Trafficking at:

  • Twitter: @EndTraffick


Post the National Human Trafficking Hotline number, 1-888-373-7888. Callers can report potential cases, get help, or request information and training. This 24/7 toll-free hotline is 100% confidential.

Volunteer by joining the UNICEF Action Center today.

President Obama proclaimed:

“This month, we rededicate ourselves to stopping one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time. Around the world, millions of men, women, and children are bought, sold, beaten, and abused, locked in compelled service and hidden in darkness. They toil in factories and fields; in brothels and sweatshops; at sea, abroad, and at home. They are the victims of human trafficking — a crime that amounts to modern-day slavery.”

–President Barack Obama

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