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  • Writer's pictureKim Westfall, Founder

How can you identify a trafficking victim?

Prevention Saves Lives

Every January organizations around the world stop to focus on human trafficking awareness. It’s a time to get the word out to the general public about the evils of trafficking and inspire them to join the fight for the prevention and rescue of traffic victims. 

Here at Uncaged, this is a reality we focus on every single day. When we set out to make an impact for survivors in Romania and beyond, we knew that meant rescue, world-class aftercare, and trauma-informed therapy. Very quickly we learned that the only thing that is better than walking with a survivor on the road to transformation is preventing trafficking before it begins. Prevention saves lives!

Most Traffic Victims Are Not Identified or Freed

Once people have been caught in the cycle of trafficking, identifying and rescuing them is difficult. The statistics show the scale of the problem. We know that probably it is likely that less than 20% of victims are ever identified. Only 1% of survivors will ever be freed. 

The numbers are more staggering than we can even imagine. So much happens in the darkness that never comes to light. During Covid, far fewer victims were identified and fewer traffickers were prosecuted. It was easier for traffickers to move about and to hide.

We know that can change! It requires training first responders who have a higher likelihood of coming across traffickers and their victims. Click to read more about who those people are and how we are educating them! It means blanketing whole communities and nations with knowledge about how to protect themselves. 

The U.S. Department of State releases a Trafficking in Persons report every June, looking at trends across the world. The 2023 report showed that progress was made in 2022 with the highest number of victims identified since 2019 (115,324) and more prosecutions than any time in the past 6 years (15,159).

More Awareness Means More Trafficking Stopped

So, it is essential that people know the signs. How would you spot someone who is being trafficked? Would you know what to look for? That is why our ambitious and exciting project partnering with the Romanian Ministry of Transportation is so essential! The more people we can educate across the general public, the more awareness grows. The more awareness grows, the more traffickers can be stopped!

Our own team was recently trained by a new volunteer who joined The Freedom Highway so they can staff the emergency hotline utilized advertised on the monitors we’ve installed in Romanian airports and train stations.He educated our team members on how to respond when people call in. They might have seen something suspicious in the airport. It could be a victim who needs help. They know what to see and how to get them connected to the help they need. 

Do YOU know what to look for?

We can stay watchful in our own communities. Not only will this help protect our own sons and daughters, but you could spot others who are being trafficked. You could step in and help! These are some of the signs we teach people to look for, whether they encounter someone in the airport or in their classroom or emergency room. 

Will you become part of The Freedom Highway and educate yourself, too? Here are some red flags to look for that could indicate someone is in a trafficking situation: He or she:  

  • lives with multiple people in a cramped space. 

  • experiences poor living conditions. 

  • is prohibited from speaking alone to strangers. 

  • gives answers that appear to be scripted and rehearsed. 

  • has an employer holding their identity documents. 

  • shows signs of physical abuse. 

  • is submissive or fearful. 

  • appears malnourished or has poor dental health

  • avoids eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement

  • Has tattoos/ branding on the neck and/or lower back

  • Is traveling with older males, and referring to those males as boyfriend or “daddy,” which is often street slang for pimp

Help us reach more with the message of prevention? Give today.

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