The United Nations has established July 30 as the day to advocate awareness for the fight against human trafficking. Everyone, including you, can make a difference.
A Brief Background on Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is the oldest business on the planet. It is also the strongest business, pulling in $150 billion per year. Human trafficking encompasses almost 25 million victims that are exploited for sex, forced labor, and human organs. Trafficking is not just a third world problem. It takes place in Westernized countries, wealthy communities, poor communities, and in the suburbs right under our noses.
In the United States, trafficking is prominent in the illegal smuggling of people, the travel and transportation industries, and the illegal narcotics industry. You may ask, “What does this have to do with vacationing?” The issue of sexual exploitation of children in travel and touring (SECCT) is what it has to do with travel and vacations.
SECCT has been on the rise as popular tourism and money-making tourist industry in recent years. You may have heard rumors in the media about Epstein Island or seen movies about sex trafficking in international travel. Perhaps the rumors (that may be true) or the movies are fictional but the situations they purport are very real.
My Experiences as a Volunteer in the Fight Against Human Trafficking
The first time I was made aware of how bad human trafficking was in the United States was when I lived in Phoenix, Arizona. I was only there for a year, but I had an employee from Mexico who warned me, “Do not let your daughter out of your site, ever. She is blue-eyed and blonde. Illegals will kidnap her and sell her. You would never see her again.” My daughter was only seven at the time and living so close to the border, this warning terrified me. I decided the best way to be proactive was to fight back.
When I moved back to Michigan, I began to attend conventions and shows for WAR INT’L. WAR is also called Women at Risk, International. At that time, the foundation rescued women and children from all forms of trafficking rehabbed them and trained them for self-sustainable work. Now the foundation rescues trafficked men, as well.
As I was looking for an internship for my psychology program in college, I had the opportunity to work for WAR, INT’L. I met women who had been rescued out of trafficking, and women who volunteered because of a past of physical or sexual abuse in their personal lives. The foundation is a peaceful place full of love and healing, but up against the ugliest business in the world. Since that time, I have had opportunities to be trained in traffic rescue, drop off rescue soaps to truck stop restrooms, and leave leaflets and fliers at fuel centers. So, you ask, what can you do to help?
What Can You Do To Help?
There are any number of ways to get involved in the war against human trafficking:
- Volunteer with a local satellite location. Some locations include WAR, INT’L, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), and Polaris.
- Buy products that are fair trade. This includes products at the store and online that state they are fair trade. It also means giving small businesses such as WAR, INT’L your retail business.
- Investigate the places you choose to travel to. Many other countries are designated as popular SECTT locations. To protect yourself and your children, avoid these countries. Also, choose to avoid giving your vacation business to entities that encourage human trafficking. To do so does take research.
- Get trained to know how to recognize a human trafficking situation. Both WAR and TAT offer civilian first responder training. You can also check with your state and local resources to find additional training opportunities.
You can financially support organizations in their fight against human trafficking. Here is a shortlist of anti-human trafficking programs you can support.
Because trafficking is one of the largest industries in the world, many industries benefit from its profits. To help the war on trafficking, avoid giving your business to industries that rely on human trafficking for profits. These industries include:
- Some agricultural, and housekeeping industries.
- Companies that manufacture goods using slave labor.
- Products that are mined using slave labor (i.e. blood diamonds).
- Violent gaming.
- All types of pornography industries.
- Practice internet safety with your friends, family, and loved ones.
The fight against human trafficking may sound overwhelming and is very sad and infuriating. The people who fight it, fight with passion. If you feel a heart-burn to help in any sort of way, please consider getting involved in the war against human trafficking.