Human Trafficking – a worker’s rights problem

President Obama has declared January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The problem of forced labor and imprisonment of women, children and men has been increasing globally and nationally. Forced labor decreases the number of jobs available for legally employed workers or adds to the hidden problem of sex trafficking.An article from the Detroit Free Press states that “the number of cases under investigation has skyrocketed in the US — from 300 in 2008 to 2,515 in 2010.”  A 1000 of the 2010 cases were said to involve children. Two million cases globally and up to 18,000 nationally is an estimate of the number of victims involved yearly.

A calico comfort dolly, for a painful problem.

“Eighty-three percent of victims in confirmed sex trafficking cases in the U.S. in 2010 were American citizens, though 67% of labor trafficking victims were unlawful immigrants and 28% were legal immigrants.” (the 2,515 cases) [The news article is no longer available.]

“The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hot line gets 1,000 calls a month about suspected trafficking victims. Hot line calls coming from Michigan also have doubled in recent years, from 87 in 2009 to 173 in 2011.”     NHTRC hotline (24/7): 1.888.3737.888

It can seem like a black world, or a blank self.

*hopeless, gray/black – lightless and hopeless, abusers often devalue their victims with negative comments about them and the things they like, mixed with occasional nice or loving treatment – it leads to the victim becoming more obedient, hoping for the nice treatment.

Victims frequently are emotionally abused, lied to about how bad the risks in the outer world actually are and about their own self worth and value. Frequently the victims are invited to a foreign place for a job and then are kept in debt and isolated with limited language or knowledge of the local customs.

Awareness of hot-lines and emergency shelters helped bring domestic violence and child abuse into the light. The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
or for those with Text Telephone service: 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
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The USDA Domestic Violence  Awareness Handbook : []

The scared person who looks a little different may benefit from a smile and maybe a business card with a few important phone numbers and self worth statements. It is hard to speak up for yourself if you don’t know the language and believe you don’t deserve to learn it.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hot line is part of the Polaris Project which was named after the North Star. Slaves used the North Star as their compass to navigate the dark woods on their journey to freedom along the Underground Railroad. The name is a figure of speech not a train ride – it was mostly hiking more often than kindly hay rides. Many helping hands were involved however and the tradition has been continued since 2002 by the Polaris Project. It is working towards a vision of a world without slavery. []  1.888.3737.888

How to recognize the signs that someone might be a victim of abuse or slavery of some sort: []

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.