Learn to Spot the Signs and Identify Human Trafficking

July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Credit: United Nations

“On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us reaffirm our commitment to stop criminals from ruthlessly exploiting people for profit and to help victims rebuild their lives.”

— UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. There are now an estimated 45.6 MILLION slaves around the world (Global Slavery Index).

Human trafficking is defined by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as: The Act of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

This essentially means that traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude, and inhumane treatment.

There are many various of human trafficking, including sexual exploitation child abuse and forced marriage – both big problem areas involving gender based violence.

Human trafficking is a global problem. Knowledge and active awareness are key to prevention. By being able to identify the signs, you can learn to identify human trafficking and potentially report or even put a stop to it.

Warning signs that an individual is being trafficked:

  • Acting as if instructed by another, as though they are forced or coerced to carry out specific activities
  • Demonstrates signs of physical or psychological abuse, such as lacking self esteem, seeming anxious, bruising or untreated medical conditions
    • Signs of physical abuse such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
  • Seeming to be bonded by debt or has money deducted from their salary
  • Having little or no contact with family or loved ones
  • Being distrustful of authorities
  • Having threats made against themselves or family members
  • Not being in possession of their own legal documents
  • Unexplained absences from class
  • Less appropriately dressed than before
  • Sexualised behaviour
  • Overly tired in class
  • Feeling withdrawn, depressed, distracted or checked-out
  • Bragging about making or having lots of money
  • Displays expensive clothes, accessories or shoes
  • New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as a way to brand victims. Tattoos of a name, symbol of money or barcode could indicate trafficking)
  • Older boyfriend or new friends with a different lifestyle
  • Talks about wild parties or invites other students to attend parties
  • Shows signs of gang affiliation? (e.g,: a preference for specific colours, notebook doodles of gang symbols, etc.)

Pimps/traffickers often exhibit the following behaviours or characteristics:

  • Jealous, controlling and violent
  • Significantly older than female companions
  • Promise things that seem too good to be true
  • Encourage victims to engage in illegal activities to achieve their goals and dreams
  • Buys expensive gifts or owns expensive items
  • Is vague about his/her profession
  • Pushy or demanding about sex
  • Encourages inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Makes the victim feel responsible for his/her financial stability. Very open about financial matters.

What to do if you suspect someone is being trafficked or involved in trafficking:

  • Report it!
    • Call your local police. If it’s an emergency, call the emergency number. If not, call your local non-emergency number (where applicable)
    • Reach out to trafficking support organisations which can help (choose your region here, then click on your country name to find local support)
    • If you don’t want to call the police, you can talk to a charity anonymously
    • Call Crimestoppers in your country (where applicable) 

What to do if you fear you are at risk of being trafficked:

  • Call your local police. If it’s an emergency, call the emergency number. If not, call your local non-emergency number (where applicable)
  • If you suspect you are being taken abroad against your will for human trafficking, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation (FGM), child abuse, abduction, honour based violence, HIDE A METAL SPOON IN YOUR UNDERWEAR! The airport metal detector will alert airport security who will secure your safety! This could be a victim’s only chance to discreetly alert authorities and speak to someone away from their abuser or controlling family. Any metal object would do but ‘the spoon trick’ is something security are alert to worldwide. And even if they aren’t aware of this tactic, you can ask for help once you are taken aside to be searched. The spoon will set off the metal detector and the person will be taken somewhere private (away from their abuser) to be searched, which is where security staff can be advised of the situation and help. If you don’t have access to a metal spoon or your abuser is aware of this tactic, use anything else you can find and hide it on your person (metal bangles, keys, anything).
  • Reach out to trafficking support organisations which can help (choose your region here, then click on your country name to find local support)

Photo by nahid hatamiz on Unsplash


United Nations

Stop the Traffik

Shared Hope

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I'm a mother, wife, travel addict, bookworm, survivor, feminist, artist, black sheep, and challenger of the status quo. Founder of https://shaktiism.com and https://shewillsurvive.com

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