By: Amanda Sparks, Allies Coach and Fundraising Manager at Allies Inc.
Did you know?
- Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world
- Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry
- Globally human trafficking is a $150 Billion industry
- 12-14 is the average age of entry into the sex trade globally
- Because of easily accessible interstates, Indiana is a hub for sex trafficking
- Over 1,700 calls have been made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline for victims in Indiana since 2016
- There are currently 157 trafficking cases open in Indiana
- For every statistic recorded, there are countless more victims unaccounted for
What is Human Trafficking?
According to the Department of Justice, this is the definition – dependent upon the type of trafficking being addressed (sexual or labor)… human trafficking is defined as the use of force, fraud, or coercion in order to recruit, harbor or transport a person. It’s important to note that while the proven presence of force, fraud or coercion is necessary in cases of individuals 18 or older, they are not required in the case of a minor.
Who is involved in human trafficking?
Recruiters gain the victim’s trust and then sells them to a pimp for labor. Sometimes this is a family member, a boyfriend, a neighbor, or even a trusted friend. The trafficker/pimp is the one who controls the victims. Making the victim fearful through abuse, threats and lies, the trafficker gains power over his/her victim. The consumer or “John” funds the human trafficking industry by purchasing goods and services. The victim could be anyone and is often unaware that someone is suffering.
Regardless of their demographics, victims are vulnerable in some way, and the traffickers play on those vulnerabilities to get what they want from them. These vulnerabilities include but are not limited to:
- History of abuse or conflict/violence in the home
- Lack of education/support
- A need to be loved
Youth are often recruited through someone they thought they could trust, such as a family member, friend or boyfriend. They can be recruited through alternative schools, detention centers and residential facilities. False advertising for acting, modeling and/or dancing jobs is another source of recruitment, in addition to social media requests for sex and/or dates. And finally, vulnerabilities can be preyed upon in the community.
There are several key indicators that a victim is in a trafficking situation. Some of the physical indicators include neglected healthcare needs, poor hygiene and signs of physical abuse. Mental indicators may include symptoms of trauma, memory loss, substance abuse, withdrawn, feelings of loneliness and hopelessness…
In addition to the physical and mental health indicators, limited housing is available for these victims. There is an absence of a strong support system in their lives. Safety is an issue for victims. Maintaining a trauma-informed response is minimal. The length of investigations take too long. Victims form trauma bonds to or are manipulated by their trafficker. Victims don’t trust those who want to help.
What You Can Do
If you suspect someone is being trafficked or would like to become involved in anti-trafficking efforts:
- Call 9-1-1 or the Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-3737-888 or text “BeFree” to 233733.
- Educate yourself through trusted resources like International Justice Mission and Polaris Project.
- Make choices against the promotion of human trafficking (stop watching porn, visiting adult entertainment
- establishments, buying adult magazines)
- Personally get involved in anti-trafficking efforts by:
- Joining the IPATH (Indiana Protection of Abused and Trafficked Humans) Taskforce
- Mentoring an at risk youth
- Donating to organizations such as ICESAHT (Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault & Human Trafficking) or
- Allies, Inc. (formerly Purchased).