You see them every day, young adolescence, teens, and even adults, trapped in an underground world of human trafficking. The crime is not just subject to females; many males too, live in the shadows of this secret society. The apparent age difference of the couple living two houses down. No one would think twice about that, he is just a bit older than his wife, no need to be alarmed. You see the teenage boy who looks to be having lunch with his uncle and grandfather at the corner diner, but never lifts his eyes from the table. Going about everyday life can sometimes be deceiving as to what is really happening right in your own backyard.
There are many forms of human trafficking, sex trafficking, child sex trafficking, and labor trafficking. These crimes can be very difficult to identify. According to Mark Bond, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at American Public University System, in a October 2014 LinkedIn article titled, “Human Trafficking: Law Enforcement Awareness”, he states; “human trafficking can be a difficult crime for local law enforcement to recognize, and often misidentified during the initial law enforcement encounter as a possible prostitution problem, domestic argument, workplace altercation, etc.”
On June 1, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette spoke on the growing crime of human trafficking in the great lakes state at a Zonta Club meeting. Here he discussed how he and other members of government and law enforcement want to bring more public awareness for citizens, training for police and first responders on how to spot signs and what are some triggers of those who might be victims of human trafficking and legislative recommendations on how to protect victims and stricter laws on the perpetrators.
Here is a list of indicators for human trafficking Professor Mark Bond listed in his article:
- Evidence the person is being controlled, captive, or imprisoned
- Non-English speaking and no passport or identification
- Evidence that the person is not free to leave their job at will
- Signs of physical abuse
- No address or family contact
- Another person speaks for the person
- Indication that juvenile is a runaway
- Noticeable age difference between older male and a younger woman.
There are many national and local organizations fighting to end human trafficking across America and the world. Attorney Schuette mentioned that the girls who are lured into this underground world often are experiencing the absence of love and relationship in their home life. Lindsey Fischer heads an outreach organization called All Worthy of Love where she has teams that take to the streets each week to “love” girls and women out of the life of human trafficking. She mentioned in a short Facebook video that building relationship with the women on the street is most difficult and most important thing. They make it a point to remember the ladies and to call them by name, identity changes everything.
Here are questions to ask if human trafficking is suspected.