Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
August 9, 2004
Citizen Action: How Can I Help End Modern-Day Slavery?
Human trafficking takes on many forms in the 21st century with people becoming trapped into lives of servitude and misery through varied avenues and methods. Foreigners who enter the United States legally or illegally may have to pay their "smugglers" or middle-men exorbitant fees. Some people arrive believing they’ll have a legitimate job as a housekeeper or nanny and end up as domestic slaves unable to leave their traffickers’ homes. Others are completely tricked and end up in forced, commercial, sexual exploitation. Some men believe they’ll earn money working on a farm, but find themselves working to pay off the inflated "debt" from "travel costs" -- working months and years on end while the traffickers pocket their earnings.
Whatever the situation, as citizens we can all make a difference in helping end and eradicate modern-day slavery. Our recommendations include the following:
INCREASE PUBLIC AWARENESS ABOUT MODERN-DAY SLAVERY
Human trafficking could be discussed in an open forum at your local church, college, school, synagogue, or civic group. Many Americans are still unaware of how widespread the problem is and how it may even be happening in their own backyards. The more people learn about this human rights abuse, the more "eyes and ears" are available to help report suspected cases and prevent further abuses.
SUPPORT GROUPS THAT WORK TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING
In the U.S. and abroad, dozens of local, state, international, and multi-national organizations are working to combat modern-day slavery. Research these groups and learn about their efforts. Find out how you can help, either by volunteering or supporting their efforts financially.
ASK YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS TO PASS ANTI-TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS LAWS
While the U.S. has strong federal anti-trafficking in persons legislation, it is helpful for states to pass laws of their own to further educate and involve local law enforcement officials. Several states have these kinds of laws, and a model state law is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/trafficking.htm (under "Resources").
UNDERSTAND THE LINK BETWEEN HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND COMMERCIAL, SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
We estimate that of the 600,000-800,000 people trafficked across country borders every year, almost 70% are forced into the commercial sex industry. Half of all victims are children. Many are forced to work in brothels, illegitimate massage parlors, as "escorts," or in pornography. When people support such industries they are fueling the demand for commercial sexual services that fuel the demand for trafficking victims.
REPORT SUSPECTED HUMAN TRAFFICKING CASES
If you believe someone you know may be a trafficking victim, contact the Department of Health and Human Services' Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888. Information on how to recognize a potential human trafficking scenario and/or victim is available in the fact sheet "How Can I Recognize Trafficking Victims" at: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/fs/34563.htm.