January is Human Trafficking Awareness month; sad that we have a designated month, but we do. Every year millions of people are exploited within and across borders. They are forced to work in factories for little or no pay; harvest crops; work in terrible conditions in mines, construction sites, and fishing boats; or work in private homes. Many victims are exploited for commercial sex, adults, and children alike.
Fortunately, the anti-trafficking movement in the United States and many parts of the world has experienced a shift in the perception and treatment of survivors of human trafficking. Survivors of trafficking situations are often stigmatized by cultural and societal biases. Regardless of the circumstances that led an individual to being trafficked, the impact of cultural barriers remains constant: shame and embarrassment that prevent a victim from receiving the services and support needed to permanently leave their trafficking situation and rebuild a healthy and secure life. The good news? The U.S. Department of Justice data reflect that from 2011 to 2021 the number of persons investigated and prosecuted for human trafficking increased 49%, from 1,360 in 2011 to 2,027 in 2021. 92% of the defendants were male, 95% were U.S. citizens and 68% had no prior convictions.
It is our responsibility to be aware of the signs of human trafficking, how to address situations that may arise and to provide education for our staff. Have you completed your training (required for most license renewals)? If not, or if you need to provide education for your staff, please access the two–part training session. Remember, 68% of those prosecuted had no prior convictions, we can’t assume it “won’t happen here”! Stay well and stay informed!