Human Trafficking is an issue that rarely leaves any industry unscathed. Many American industries – regardless of service or trade – comes in contact with human trafficking in one shape or form. This includes grocery stores, clothing boutiques, manufacturing factory, a construction site and hotels. Most individuals either choose to ignore the issue or are simply ignorant. The latter is especially true when it comes to the medical industry, which can play a significant role in identifying victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation – and thereby reporting it to local law enforcement.
A recent article by Women News Network quoted a human trafficking survivor making this statement of the medical industry:
“No physician ever asked if I was abused and I saw many of them before I escaped at 18.”
How sad is it that an industry who is often times one of the first respondents to trafficked victims are inadequately equipped to identify and help those in need?
If you are a medical professional or student, please educate yourself on how to identify victims! Some incredible resources are listed below for your benefit but please do not stop here! Continue to pursue further education, whether it be through asking specific and intentional questions of (trafficked) patients, funded research, discussions with colleagues or attending educational conferences. Help combat human trafficking as a first respondent!
American Medical Student Association
Human Trafficking: The Role of the Health Care Provider
National Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims
Train ER Doctors to Identify Human Trafficking Victims
Health Care Providers’ Training Needs Related to Human Trafficking: Maximizing the Opportunity
to Effectively Screen and Intervene
Several months ago I had the opportunity to speak with Nanette Ward from the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking coalition (CMSHT) about the issue of human trafficking, particularly as it relates to CMSHT’s work. Nanette made a very interesting and profound statement about how we contribute to the issue of human trafficking – whether or not we realize that we are actually aiding in the perpetuating it. Take a listen:
On Monday I wrote a brief blog on The Trucking Activism Network and what they are doing to combat human trafficking. In lieu of such a post, I thought it appropriate to share Truckers Against Trafficking’s training film in order to provide additional information on the trucking industry’s link to human trafficking, particularly (child) sex trafficking and exploitation as well as some steps to take to address this specific niche.
The Truckers Missing Child Project (TTMCP) was an awareness project created by The Trucking Activism Network and its Founder, Dugal Trimble. Since its creation TAT has become very successful and has taken the lead of TTMCP.
TTMCP utilizes social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as traditional methods (i.e. flyer distribution) to relay important information about Missing Children and Amber Alerts to American truck drivers and the general public. Their secondary role is to stand up and combat related issues such as human trafficking, child abuse and child porn as such issues are closely related to the issue of missing children. TTMCP aims to accomplish this through education as well as working closely with other anti-trafficking organizations.
I initially became aware of TTMCP last year when I was working for a Northern California anti-trafficking non-profit. The conversations that I had with founder and director, Dugal Trimble, highlighted the reality of an over-looked aspect of human trafficking: the trucking industry.
What many individuals do not realize is is that the trucking industry is a hot spot for human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking. Truck stops are common grounds for prostitution as girls go from truck to truck soliciting sexual services. What makes truck stops an ideal location for sex trafficking is that it is easy for both customers and solicitors to remain anonymous, little to no interaction with law enforcement and their proximity to freeways.
The mobility of truckers can prove to be a successful and essential step in combating human trafficking as truckers are on the front lines. Trimble says that this means that truckers can report a victim by calling a trafficking hotline. Additionally, they can sign up to receive Missing Children and Amber Alerts in order to keep an eye out for those missing individuals as they travel. Since truckers are mobile, they play a critical role in assisting in the recovery of victims as they are an extra set of eyes and ears on the road.
Trimble has an amazing vision of bringing awareness of human trafficking to the trucking community. His desire is to educate truckers and those working at truck stops on how to identify victims and what to do when one is spotted. Trimble has done amazing work in the short time that he has been involved and is a wonderful source of information.
To learn more about TAN and how to become involved or how to sign up for alerts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website.
Every year there is a spike in media attention surrounding the issue of human trafficking as the NFL Football season winds down and Super Bowl Sunday approaches. Much of this media attention touches upon the rise of human trafficking – particularly sex trafficking – in relation to the Super Bowl and how this enormous sporting event temporarily inflates the sex industry. And while such statements and coverage hold merit, there is also a “Catch 22” to such awareness.
What I have noticed this year regarding the Super Bowl and the human trafficking industry is the call to increased awareness throughout the calendar year – not solely around this sporting event. The Huffington Post released an article today that stated:
Although there is a market for commercial sex around the time of the Super Bowl, this market demand exists 365 days a year. It could be there at any event where masses of people descend upon a specific city or region, and it is also there on any average day when no big sporting events are taking place…So, this isn’t just a Super Bowl problem. It’s a national problem.
I think that the last two sentences are especially critical when addressing human trafficking. We simply cannot pick and choose when or how we are going to combat this industry. We should not hold educational seminars, raise finances for anti-trafficking organizations and sign petitions simply when it is convenient for ourselves because sporadically fighting trafficking does nothing in reducing demand.
Human trafficking cannot be a fad that lasts for a few years with well-meaning individuals and organizations jumping aboard the bandwagon until a new, more fascinating issue comes along. We merely trivialize trafficking if we continue to embrace such a finicky approach while wasting valuable resources that could actually be put towards combating it. So please join me and thousands of other individuals and organizations nationwide in bringing awareness to the trafficking industry on a daily basis, not merely on Super Bowl Sunday!