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President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago, beginning the long road to freedom for the hundreds of thousands enslaved in homes, on farms, and other forms of industry. Considering how far we have come to abolish slavery as we once knew it, it might surprise some to learn that the Federal government is joining community partners to create a comprehensive strategic action plan to strengthen services for victims of human trafficking in its modern forms.
The International Labour Organization estimates that there are at least 21 million people around the world exploited in conditions of modern slavery, a dehumanizing practice of holding another person in compelled service. Human trafficking affects most countries, including the United States.
Human trafficking, or trafficking in persons, can take several forms and is defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) as follows:
Sex Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; and
Labor Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Victims of human trafficking are commonly found working in the following situations:
And may exhibit any of the following signs:
See the fact sheet, Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking, for more information.
The White House held a forum this morning to engage Federal partners and non-governmental stakeholders in ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking. In one announcement, HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr invited the public to comment on the draft Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services to Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States. Learn more on how you can end trafficking.
The Administration for Children & Families is committed to helping victims of human trafficking through programs and resources including:
Find more information about how we are working to fight human trafficking.
If you need assistance or think you have come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.373.7888 or text BeFree (233733). The NHTRC can provide you immediate resources and help you identify and coordinate with local organizations.
From the U.S. Department of State:
After first learning about human trafficking, many people want to help in some way but do not know how. Here are just a few ideas for your consideration.
- Learn human trafficking red flags and ask follow up questions so that you can detect a potential trafficking situation.
- In the United States, report your suspicions to law enforcement at 911, Department of Justice at 1-888-428-7581, and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888. Victims, including undocumented individuals, are eligible for services and immigration assistance.
- Be a conscientious consumer. Make socially responsible investments. Let your favorite retailers know that you support their efforts to maintain a slavery free supply chain. Encourage your company or your employer to take steps to investigate and eliminate human trafficking throughout its supply chain and to publish the information for consumer awareness. Refer to the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.
- Hire trafficking survivors.
- Volunteer your professional services to help an anti-trafficking organization that need help from lawyers, doctors, dentists, counselors, translators and interpreters, graphic designers, public relations and media professionals, event planners, and accountants.
- Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization.
- Organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization.
- Join or start a grassroots human trafficking coalition.
- Encourage your local schools to include modern slavery in their curriculum. As a parent, educator, or school personnel, be aware of how traffickers target school-aged children.
- Meet with and write to your local, state and federal government representatives to let them know that you care about combating human trafficking in your community.
- Create and distribute public awareness materials such as t-shirts, posters, and public service announcements for radio. Or distribute already existing materials available from the Department of Health and Human Services or Department of Homeland Security.
- Host an awareness event to watch and discuss a recent human trafficking documentary. On a larger scale, host a human trafficking film festival. Several noteworthy films and documentaries have been produced in the last several years that bring attention to the plight of victims worldwide.
- Write a letter to the editor for your local paper about human trafficking in your community.
- Incorporate human trafficking information into your professional associations’ conferences, trainings, manuals, and other materials as relevant.
- STUDENTS: Join or establish a university club to raise awareness about human trafficking throughout the local community and identify victims. Request that human trafficking be an issue included in such university courses as health, migration, human rights, social work, and crime. Increase scholarship about human trafficking by publishing an article, teaching a class, or hosting a symposium.
- COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS: ensure that your staff is able to identify and assist trafficked persons.
- LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS: join or start a local human trafficking task force.
- MENTAL HEALTH OR MEDICAL PROVIDERS: extend low-cost or free services to human trafficking victims assisted by nearby anti-trafficking organizations.
- IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS: learn about and offer to human trafficking victims the immigration benefits for which they are eligible.
- EMPLOYMENT LAW ATTORNEYS: look for signs of human trafficking among your clients.