Human trafficking impacts communities across the U.S., including right here in Utah. With Utah geographically positioned at the crossroads of the west, thousands of victims are suspected to be moved through our state, with hundreds victimized within the state. In Utah, victims and survivors represent every race, ethnicity, age, gender, socio-economic status, and immigration status. Recent Utah trafficking cases included commercial sex, multi-state prostitution rings, debt bondage, illicit massage businesses, domestic servitude, labor trafficking within the agriculture and hospitality sectors, forced drug trafficking, and more.
Human trafficking is a hidden crime, as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, or fear of law enforcement. The BE THE ONE campaign brings awareness to human trafficking in Utah and issues a call to the community to take action to help identify and support victims. This blog will provide information on how you can BE THE ONE in Utah’s Fight Against Human Trafficking to LEARN about human trafficking, RECOGNIZE potential indicators of trafficking, REPORT suspected trafficking situations, and SUPPORT human trafficking victims.
BE THE ONE to LEARN about human trafficking.
Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. It is estimated that human trafficking is a $32 billion per year industry with $9.5 billion of that in the United States, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.
By knowing what human trafficking is you can play an important role in identifying and supporting victims in Utah.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
What are the types of Trafficking?
- Sex Trafficking: a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
- Labor Trafficking: A form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
Who is vulnerable?
Human trafficking can happen to anyone but some people are more vulnerable than others. Often, traffickers identify and leverage victims’ vulnerabilities in order to create dependency. Risk factors include:
- Substance Use
- History of sexual abuse/assault
- Child abuse/neglect (DEC)
- Juvenile Justice or Foster Care
- Mental health problems
- Domestic violence
- Displaced persons (refugee/immigrant)
Who are the Traffickers?
There is no one profile of perpetrators of human trafficking. They span all racial, ethnic, gender, and socio-economic demographics. They can include individuals, business owners, members of a gang or network, parents or family members of victims, intimate partners, owners of farms or restaurants, and powerful corporate executives and government representatives.
How do Traffickers recruit their victims?
Traffickers use several recruitment tactics to lure their victims. The top recruitment tactics for sex and labor trafficking are:
- Sex trafficking: intimate partner or marriage proposition; familial; posing as a benefactor; job offer; false promises and fraud
- Labor trafficking: job offer; false promises and fraud; smuggling related; familial; posing as a benefactor
Traffickers are master manipulators who tell victims what they want to hear, and give them what they need. A trafficker will fulfill promises to earn the potential victim’s trust, love and devotion. This
can happen in person, or nowadays what we are seeing is that many of the relationships between traffickers and victims are starting online.
BE THE ONE to RECOGNIZE the possible indicators of human trafficking.
Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking in an important step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Here are some possible indicators:
- Recruited with false promises
- Signs of untreated illness or injuries
- Juvenile exchanging sex acts to meet basic needs
- Works excessive hours for little or no pay
- Does not have possession of legal/travel documents
- Controlled/restricted communication/fearful
- Older boyfriend/girlfriend/companion
- Unable to speak separately or alone
- Allegedly owes money to employer
- Tattoos/branding on the neck and/or lower back
Each indicator alone may not necessarily mean a person is being trafficked. However, if you see a combination of these signs, be attentive and report potential trafficking situations.
BE THE ONE to REPORT human trafficking.
If you believe you may have information about a potential trafficking situation:
- Do not at any time attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to your suspicions.
- Call 911 for emergency situations – threats of violence, physical assault, emergency medical needs, etc.
- If you are a victim of forced labor or commercial sex or concerned that someone may be, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888; Text “BEFREE” to 233733; or Live Chat at humantraffickinghotline.org. The hotline is 24-hour live answer service with language access.
- Utahans can also report suspected human trafficking to the Utah Human Trafficking Tip line at 801-200-3443. The 24-hour tip line is run by the Utah Attorney General’s Office and answered by a voicemail machine. Note: Not intended for emergencies. Leave message and you will be contacted.
- When making a report give as much detail as possible.
BE THE ONE to SUPPORT victims of human trafficking.
By knowing what human trafficking is, looking for indicators in individuals within your sphere of influence, and referring potential victims to appropriate services, you can play an important role in supporting victims in Utah.
Safe housing, health, immigration, food, employment, legal, and interpretation services are available to trafficking victims in Utah. To find local service providers and connect victims to services:
- Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888; Text “BEFREE” to 233733; or Live Chat at humantraffickinghotline.org.
- Contact the Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Program at the Asian Association of Utah (AAU) at 801-467-6060 or firstname.lastname@example.org . AAU’s TIP program is Utah’s largest and only federally funded program specifically tailored to serve victims of all forms of human trafficking regardless of age, gender, and immigration status. They provide victim-centered case management, wraparound victim assistance, education, and outreach.
- Visit antitrafficking.aau-slc.org for information on additional service providers serving trafficking victims in Utah, to search the general service directory by zip code, and learn ways to get involved in combating human trafficking locally.
BE THE ONE to TAKE ACTION to combat human trafficking in your community.
Human trafficking is an overwhelming topic, and it’s easy to feel like there is nothing you can do to combat this injustice. However, you can be part of the solution in so many ways. Some ideas include:
- Volunteer and support anti-trafficking efforts in your community.
- Meet with or write to your local, state, and federal elected officials to let them know you care about combating human trafficking and ask what they are doing to address it.
- Be well-informed. Set up a web alert to receive current human trafficking news.
- Organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization.
- Use your social media platforms to raise awareness about human trafficking, using the following hashtags: #endtraffickingutah or #betheoneutah. Follow local, state, and national anti-trafficking social media accounts.
- Become a mentor to a young person or someone in need.
For more ideas of how you can get involved in Utah’s Fight Against Human Trafficking, visit antitrafficking.aau-slc.org.
Written by and in partnership with Asian Association of Utah.