January is Human Trafficking Awarness Month
The Fairfax County Police Department recognizes Human Trafficking Month. Human Trafficking is a worldwide epidemic and is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer or receipt of persons by means of threat or other forms of coercion for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation includes, but is not limited to, forced prostitution, forced labor or services, forced marriage and even child soldiers and religious cults.
According to the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, 161 countries are reported to be affected. They estimate at any given time, approximately 2.5 million people worldwide, are victims of this horrific crime. Approximately 10 percent of those come from industrialized nations like the United States.
You can prevent yourself or a loved one from becoming a victim of human trafficking by knowing the facts:
- Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry.
- Traffickers, sometimes referred to as recruiters, identify vulnerabilities or traits that make certain people likely victims. Factors range from being a young child or teenager to being poor, from an abusive home to being a runaway and having little to no education.
- The trafficker could be either male or female; a stranger, acquaintance or friend.
- They operate by targeting and befriending the victim, then they makes promises of financial freedom, a better life and an escape from his or her present circumstances—anything potential victims desperately feel they need or lack in life.
- The recruiter showers the victim with gifts, affection and attention to gain their trust while manipulating and controlling them and before long, victims find themselves working as prostitutes, working for little or no pay or in far worse situations.
If anyone suddenly promises you the world in exchange for favors that become increasingly demanding or sexual in nature, stop! Listen to your instincts that this is not right, seek help and tell someone right away. If you hear of a friend or loved one involved in a similar situation, they might be a victim of human trafficking or being targeted as one.
We want you to know help is out there. If you or anyone you know finds themselves in a situation where someone is being forced to provide sexual favors or work for no pay or you feel the pressure is on to do these things, call the police and stay away from that person or group of people. If you are not comfortable calling the police, there are organizations like the Human Trafficking Resource Center and Just Ask Prevention. 1-888-373-7888 SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”). You can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.