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Human Trafficking Prevention Month: What Is It?

By: Surabhi Ashok, Raj Shah, Ishaan Salaskar, Gianna Terranova, and Simran Harjani on behalf of the Rho Kappa Honor Society at MTHS

Source: Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission

As many as 24.9 million people are being human trafficked around the world. Human trafficking is the use of force or coercion in labor and commercial sexual exploitation. The 6 types of trafficking are forced labor, sex trafficking, organ trafficking, child soldier, child marriage, and debt bondage. In just 2010-2012, there were 40,000 reported cases of this modern day slavery.

Human trafficking has gone on for a very long time. The earliest form of it began with the American slave trade that systematically transported African people to the United States. The practice of slavery continued until President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The executive order essentially freed 3.1 million slaves, which is one of the reasons why January was named Human Trafficking Month.

Since the establishment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the US has taken official action in the fight against modern slavery. In essence, the act implemented a three pronged approach to resolving human trafficking. The legislation involves prevention, protection, and prosecution. The government created a department for the sole purpose of ensuring other nations are engaging in effective prevention and improving economic conditions of potential victims. The protection was in the form of more affordable health services to victims, and the prosecution involved heavy criminalization of committing any trafficking activities. This historic legislation has been at the forefront of reaffirming the promise of freedom.

In order to spread awareness, the United States recognized January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month back in 2010. This is an important time to educate ourselves, as well as others, on how to spot certain warning signs and contribute to the overall effort to stop human trafficking. Additionally, blue has been internationally noticed as the universal color for human trafficking prevention.

Although anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, there are certain groups that are much more susceptable than others. These groups include young children, women, Native American communities, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, and the homeless youth. Human trafficking occurs everywhere, but people should be especially careful when traveling alone, in the dark, or in an unfamiliar city.

There are many ways to protect yourself from human trafficking. The most important step is to always tell a family member or trusted friend about your whereabouts and when you will return. Next, set up safety words with loved ones that you can use on a phone call or in a text to indicate an emergency. In addition, make sure to memorize the phone number of a trusted family member or friend. Furthermore, carry your phone at all times, along with cash or a debit card in case you need money to pay taxi fare or other means of escape. Lastly, never let a partner or employer take possession of a passport and other important documents.

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