First decreed by Presidential Proclamation in 2010, January 2021 is once again National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This year, an entire month of initiatives will culminate on February 1, when the US will observe National Freedom Day.
From the get go, the month has been geared at educating the public at large about the redefinition of slavery and trafficking by modern standards. This, of course, helps greatly in recognizing the signs of their presence among us, whether it is at home, the workplace, in church and, poignantly, in school.
So, off we go.
Modern Human Trafficking: A crime in which force, fraud or coercion is used to obligate a person to perform labor, services or commercial sex. It affects adults-children, men- women, foreigners-U.S. citizens across all economic classes.
Modern Slavery: The control of one person by another, usually by exploiting a vulnerability. This control can be of a physical, financial, even psychological nature. Today, it is inextricably linked with human trafficking, where a person is forced into a service against their will.
Now, both these barbaric practices and crimes against humanity are usually set forth in three stages.
- Stage 1: The actual ACT of what is done. It typically includes one or several of these elements:
- Harboring of persons
- Receipt of persons
- Stage 2: The MEANS It typically includes one or several of these elements:
- Threat of force
- Use of force
- Substance abuse
- Abuse of power or position of vulnerability
- Payments or benefits, made or received, to control a person
- Stage 3: The ulterior PURPOSE or WHY it is done. This exploitation typically includes one or several of these elements:
- Other forms of sexual exploitation, such as sex trafficking, with extreme physical or psychological imposition.
- Forced labor, which is work or services typically under threats of violence to self or other family members and by debt bondage.
- Organ harvesting. Removal of organs or harvesting of tissues without consent, such as kidneys, liver, etc., in order to sell them in the black market.
- 20% of human trafficking victims are children
- 3 million people worldwide are currently experiencing forced labor, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and/or forced marriage.
- Migrants are especially vulnerable to forced labor
- Forced labor is a $150 billion/year phenomenon… over $4,750 per second!!
- In the US, 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported will probably become sex trafficking victims
- $99 billion per year in sex trafficking
- Different programs at home and abroad have rescued countless babies, under one year of age, all the way up to adults aged 63
The single best avenue of action to be taken if you want to involve yourself is learning to spot the signs of trafficking. Some of these signs may come as a surprise, with myths and false ideas also a point of contention.
Domestically, the National Association to Protect Children —aka, PROTECT— mobilized ill and injured service members from the special operations community to specifically fight and set up a special group against the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.
Mission-driven Human Exploitation Rescue Operatives —aka, HEROs— engage in this noble fight and represent the country’s best efforts and ideals.
At present, over 130 veterans have joined the HERO program: 76 graduated, 101 obtained professional certifications in digital forensics, 61 secured a permanent position with Homeland Security Investigations. Together with 31 current interns, they make up 27 percent of the HSI cybercrime and computer forensics workforce.