The first written record of slavery in the Colonial United States was recorded in 1619. Slavery in the United States was legal until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865. The horrific past of slavery continues to haunt American history nearly 250 years later. We can all be grateful that slavery is no longer a part of America . . . or is it?
As inconceivable as it may seem, slavery is still alive and well in the United States and abroad. Execrable acts against our fellow men and women continue on within a trade market that rakes in an astounding $32 billion worldwide. Second only to the drug trafficking industry, human trafficking is responsible for the modern day slavery of mostly women and children, used in large part in the underground world of the sex trade. They are the prostitutes on the street, at truck stops and in the hotels and motels across the country. Around the world, there are an estimated 27 million slaves today. Within the United States, the estimated number for human trafficking ranges between 200,000-300,000 per year. These are men, women and children.
Theresa Flores was blackmailed into sex slavery as a young teenager. She would be taken to affluent homes and hotels in and around the Detroit area and forced to have sex for hours with strangers. As she would recount later in life:
“I can’t describe to you the feeling of terror. No child should ever have to know that kind of fear. I didn’t know what I was going to have to endure that night, for how long, or if I was going to come back home.”
Sad to say, slavery still exists in the United States and across the globe. Victims of human trafficking needs our help. People are literally being bought and sold and transported from location to location, forced into a life of unbelievable fear and torment. One of the greatest fighters against human trafficking can be the eyes and ears of our nation’s professional truckers.
What other sector of people spend more time out in the real world than professional truck drivers? Truckers Against Human Trafficking needs your help. As professional long haul drivers, you can be a most valuable resource in learning how to recognize a victim of human trafficking. They can look like anyone on the street and learning how to correctly identify a victim of human trafficking can lead to the rescue of those in need. Truckers Against Human Trafficking provides information on how truckers can learn how to identify a victim of modern day slavery:
A victim of trafficking may look like many of the people you help every day. You can help trafficking victims get the assistance they need by looking beneath the surface for the following clues:
- Evidence of being controlled
- Evidence of an inability to move or leave job
- Bruises or other signs of battering
- Fear or depression
- Non-English speaking
- Recently brought to this country from Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, Canada, Africa or India
- Lack of passport, immigration or identification documentation
Traffickers use various techniques to keep victims enslaved. Some Traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. However, the more frequent practice is to use less obvious techniques including:
- Debt bondage – financial obligations, honor-bound to satisfy debt
- Isolation from the public – limiting contact with outsiders and making sure that any contact is monitored or superficial in nature
- Isolation from family members and members of their ethnic and religious community
- Confiscation of passports, visas and/or identification documents
- Use or threat of violence toward victims and/or families of victims
- The threat of shaming victims by exposing circumstances to family
- Telling victims they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities
- Control of the victims’ money, e.g., holding their money for “safe-keeping”
The result of such techniques is to instill fear in victims. The victims’ isolation is further exacerbated because many do not speak English and are from countries where law enforcement is corrupt and feared.
Help to fight back against human trafficking. Please visit Truckers Against Human Trafficking to learn how you can help.
© 2010, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.