What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the loss of an individual’s freedom to the control of another through force, fraud, or coercion. Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It is the exploitation of another for profit, and the forms it takes are constantly evolving. It includes sex trafficking, child sex trafficking (when the victim is a minor, any commercial sex act is considered human trafficking), forced labor or labor trafficking, forced child labor, debt bondage, domestic servitude, and many other forms of bondage. It is the buying and selling of human beings.
Recognizing human trafficking victims can be difficult, even though many are hidden in plain sight. A common perception of human trafficking is that a victim is kidnapped or abducted. While there are certainly cases like this, it is far from the norm. Victims can still be living in their own home, attending school, and/or participating in activities in their community. Victims aren’t usually tied up physically, but are often held hostage psychologically. Traffickers are adept at identifying potential victims and exploiting their vulnerabilities. Traffickers may be individuals or part of a larger criminal network, all with the same intent to exploit people for profit. Just as anyone can be a victim, anyone can be a trafficker. Traffickers can be a parent, relative, boyfriend, girlfriend, or someone you meet on-line. Top recruitment tactics used by traffickers include:
a trafficker acting as a romantic partner and possibly even proposing marriage
a family member who influences/coerces another family member into a trafficking situation
someone offering to help with money, food or a job. [source: https://iowadot.gov/endslavery/Index.html]
Is Human Trafficking Happening In Siouxland?
YES, according to Linda Holub, Co-Chair of Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Read her eye-opening interview with a human trafficking survivor from the Siouxland area here. Siouxland’s proximity to major interstates making travel quick and efficient, the trusting nature of our communities, and our centrality to large metro areas makes this region a prime location for trafficking to occur. In addition, traffickers are increasingly using social media sites, internet classifieds, and on-line gaming as vehicles to entice unsuspecting victims. With internet access available virtually everywhere, human trafficking presents a very real threat to the majority of the states’ populations. State-specific human trafficking data based on contacts to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888) is available from polarisproject.org/2017statistics. It must be noted that the data do not represent the full scope of human trafficking in our area due to lack of awareness and failure to report the crime.
In the News…
- Bruce Hokel, Sioux City policeman GoFundMe page (more)
- CyberSafe Parent: How to manage your kids' summer online activity (more)
- “The Slave Across The Street”: How Human Trafficking is Hidden in Plain Sight (more)
- Illegally parked car leads authorities to Des Moines metro sex trafficking ring (more)
- CBS News 48 Hours: “Live to Tell.” Inside the world of child sex trafficking and Ashton Kutcher’s high tech approach to saving victims (more)
- How is YOUR state doing in passing laws to fight child sex trafficking? Check out the new 2018 State Report Cards available from Shared Hope International … (more)
- Siouxland News KMEG 14, FOX 44: Siouxland Non-Profit Breaking the Silence on Human Trafficking (more)
- Smartphone apps your kids use that you don’t know about (more)
- KTIV: “Digging Deeper: Human Trafficking in Siouxland” (more)
- Junior League of Sioux City, in conjunction with the Coalition on Human Trafficking and the Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking has trained over 300 people in 7 hotels in the Siouxland Region.
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-3737-888 or Text “Help” or “Info” to BEFREE (233-733). Available 24/7
What You Should Know
Human Trafficking is big business. It is estimated to be the second most profitable illegal venture in the U. S. after drug trafficking. One trafficker can make as much as $200,000.00 on one victim per year, and most traffickers use multiple victims.
Victims of Human Trafficking can be found in many situations, such as: sweatshops, traveling sales crews, nannies, exotic dancers, massage businesses, agriculture, restaurants, nail salons, hotels/motels, prostitution, pornography, and many others.
Those most at risk for sex and labor trafficking are:
Runaways and Homeless People
Youth in Foster Care or Aging Out of Foster Care
Those who identify as LGBT
People Traumatized by Sexual or Physical Violence
Mentally Impaired/Mentally Ill People
People with Addictions
People from a Background of Poverty, Abuse, Addiction, and Violence
People Living in Poverty
Foreign Nationals, Especially Those Without Legal Status
The Internet is playing an increasingly prominent role in human trafficking. Traffickers use social media, dating sites, and on-line advertising to market minors and other trafficking victims. Young people can fall prey to trafficking through on-line video games. On-line pornography can be a precursor to buying trafficked victims, as well as its use of victims to produce pornography. Download a brief guide from Shared Hope International: “Keep Kids Safe from Online Sex Traffickers” here.
Possible Signs of Trafficking:
A person is:
Not free to come and go as they wish
Showing signs of physical or sexual abuse
Not in control of his/her own money or identification documents
Not sure of their whereabouts - what city they’re in or where they are staying
Unpaid, paid little or only through tips
Working excessively long/unusual hours
Owing a large debt - unable to pay it off
A student with unexplained absences, unusual tiredness, an older boyfriend, new friends and lifestyle, new expensive possessions
Rebecca Bender is a survivor of sex trafficking. In this video, she shares how she became a victim of trafficking.