10 tell-tale signs of human trafficking
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According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), 40.3 million people were victims of human trafficking globally in 2016.
A quarter of that figure (25 percent) are children, and 75 percent of that number are women and girls.
The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labour and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.
Human trafficking is defined under the Trafficking in Persons Act 2011 as:
“the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power, the abuse of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payment or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”
Human trafficking can occur in the busiest places, with most people being none the wiser.
Traffickers often lure victims with the false promise of jobs or a better life.
Here are several tell-tale signs that someone might be the victim of human trafficking:
1. Non-English speaking
People such as non-English speakers are more vulnerable as they would be less able to communicate that they are being trafficked.
2. Afraid to speak to anyone
People who are being threatened or victimised may remain silent out of fear that they might be harmed. If they do speak, they might say they are 'just visiting' and may not want to say where they are staying. Their stories may seem inconsistent and confusing.
3. Unable to come and go freely
Persons who are locked into their premises and unable to leave freely, or who remain indoors most of the time without explanation, may be victims of human trafficking.
4. Works unusually long hours or in harsh conditions
Persons who work longer hours that the legal requirement may be victims of exploitation or human trafficking.
5. Showing signs of sleep deprivation, bruises or other ill-health
Human trafficking victims may be forced to work excessively which may affect their sleeping patterns or health. Sex trafficking victims may even be beaten if they refuse to comply with their captors. Human trafficking victims might have even contracted sexually transmitted diseases which remained untreated, as seeing a doctor might lead to the human trafficking ring being uncovered.
6. No access to wages, passports or other documents
Human trafficking victims are often held captive by having their wages and passports held from them. They might say they were told this was for their safety.
7. Claims to be married but does not live with their husband/wife
Victims of human trafficking might say they are married but don’t actually reside with their ‘spouse’. Additionally, they may have been brought to Trinidad and Tobago by a boyfriend/girlfriend, who would later ‘rent’ them to friends or acquaintances for sexual favours.
8. Checks into hotels or room rentals with different people
A human trafficking victim might be seen going to various hotels or rental accommodation with different people or even people much older than them.
9. Extreme security measures around premises
The human trafficking victim may reside in a place with heightened security – such as a guard at the door, barbed wire around windows and walls, CCTV cameras and other unusually extreme security measures.
10. Unusual tattoos/markings
Human trafficking victims might even be ‘branded’ by their traffickers, and may have unusual tattoos or markings.
If you spot any suspicious activity that you suspect might be human trafficking, please contact the Counter-Trafficking Unit on 800-4288, or 555, 999, or 800-TIPS.
If you think children are involved, you can also call the Trinidad and Tobago Children’s Authority on 996 or 800-2014.
Here's an account by medical practitioner Kanani Titchen on spotting the signs of human trafficking, courtesy Tedx Talks: