Jan. 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, when we draw attention to the insidious human rights issue that lurks within our own Henrico County community.
“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will.”
Behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking, human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry and reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries such as the U.S. traffickers exploit their victims by forcing them into prostitution, subjecting them to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling them to commit sex acts to create pornography. According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.
There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today, and according to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. About 80% of them are female and half are children. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-years-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
Bringing awareness to the issue of human trafficking can help survivors find resources, support and safety. If you suspect you have encountered a situation involving human trafficking, or if you or someone you know is being trafficked, help is available. The following are “red flags” identified by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center that could indicate someone is a victim of trafficking. However, this is not an exhaustive list and every situation is different. If these red flags are present, you can report your concerns and get support by calling the free and confidential Greater Richmond Regional Hotline: 804.612.6126.
Common Work and Living Conditions:
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior:
Poor Physical Health:
Lack of Control:
The presence of these red flags could indicate that further assessment is needed, and you can take action by calling the free and confidential Greater Richmond Regional Hotline: 804.612.6126.