What is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some sort of labor or commercial sex act. Thousands of men, women, and children are trafficked into forced labor situations and into the sex trade. Many of these victims are lured with false promises of steady or well-paying jobs; instead, they are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude, or other types of forced labor. Victims may be found in legitimate and illegitimate labor industries, including sweatshops, massage parlors, restaurants, domestic service, and prostitution. Human trafficking does not require movement across borders or any type of transportation.
Who are the victims? Who is at risk?
Trafficking victims can be men or women, young or old, any race or ethnicity, from America or abroad, with or without legal status. Traffickers prey on victims with little or no social safety net. They look for victims who are vulnerable due to things such as economic hardship, drug dependency, illegal immigration status, limited English proficiency, political instability, or other causes.
Can prostitutes be human trafficking victims?
Many prostitutes working the streets or doing call-outs are human trafficking victims, particularly if they have pimps who coerce them into becoming, or continuing to work as, prostitutes. Male or female juvenile sex-workers are almost always trafficking victims—because there is almost always some type of force or coercion involved in what they’re doing.
How do I identify human trafficking?
Human trafficking is often “hidden in plain sight.” There are many red flags, or indicators, which can help alert you to human trafficking. Recognizing the signs is the first step in identifying victims.
Does the victim act fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous?
Does the victim defer to another person to speak for him or her?
Does the victim show signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture?
Has the victim been harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care, or other necessities?
Does the victim have few or no personal possessions?
Does the victim have a home address that he or she shares freely?
Can the victim easily/freely contact friends or family?
Does the victim have freedom of movement?
Has the victim or his/her family been threatened with harm if he/she tries to escape?
Does the victim work excessively long and/or unusual hours?
Is the victim’s salary being garnished to pay off a smuggling fee or other questionable expenses?
Has the victim been forced to commit sex acts?
Is someone else in control of the victim’s identification and/or travel documents (such as a passport)?
Is the victim a juvenile engaged in commercial sex?
Other things to consider regarding Human Trafficking . . .
Human trafficking victims do not usually self-identify based on fear.
Throughout the country, criminal street gangs are moving away from drugs and towards human trafficking. Human trafficking can be more profitable and currently involves less risk.
Human trafficking is one of those crimes that you won’t necessarily find unless you are actively looking for it in a wide range
of different situations and environments. Human trafficking needs to be focused on as an emerging priority in police agencies of all sizes and in all locations.
There needs to be more public discussions and community engagement around the problem of human trafficking.
Training in how to identify and assist human trafficking victims is essential for law enforcement personnel, teachers, health care providers, unions, and many others.
Many juveniles and young adults do not even realize that they are human trafficking crime victims.
Who to contact if you suspect Human Trafficking
There are several personnel within the Richmond Police Department who coordinate enforcement and can connect victims with resources related to human trafficking. These personnel include:
Det. Kevin Simmons, Domestic & Sexual Violence Unit, (510) 965-4965,
Other services for victims include:
STAND for Families Free of Violence (510) 621-1605
National Human Trafficking Resource Center (888) 3737-888