Every October, we gear up for Walk for Freedom (this year, on October 15th!) and as we do, we look for ways to grow our awareness in this important conversation. To get us started, we thought we would go over some basics — and keep it simple. Our goal is that you would know these, be able to share them with those around you, and use them as a springboard into this vital conversation.
#1 — Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings. It’s the recruitment, control, and use of people for their bodies and for their labor.* It is modern-day slavery. Often, people think human trafficking has to involve moving someone across state-lines or a country’s borders. It can, but human trafficking is broader than that. Put another way — human trafficking is forcing, coercing or tricking another person into labor or commercial sex activity.
#2 — Today, there are over 40 million people trafficked worldwide.** That is 1 in every 200 people. According to Polaris Project, in 2020, 10,583 situations of human trafficking were reported to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline involving 16,658 individual victims. Shocking as these numbers are, they are likely only a fraction of the actual problem.***
#3 — 80% of those rescued out of trafficking will be re-trafficked absent employment opportunities.**
#4 — But, here? In our area? “Trafficking thrives in transient areas, meaning Hampton Roads is especially vulnerable. With a major interstate, seaport and airport, as well as a large tourism industry and military presence, the community is at high risk.” Williamsburg is absolutely a part of this. Though we do not believe it has a to be a local issue to warrant our concern or action, human trafficking is a local issue. In 2017, a Human Trafficking Task Force assembled in the Hampton Roads area, and Williamsburg Police were absolutely included.
#5 — Do you suspect trafficking might be taking place? Save this in your phone. The human trafficking hotline number is 1-(888) 373-7888. This is a great place to start. A next, study the signs of trafficking so that as you go about your day, you know what to look for.
* This fact was taken from A21.
** This fact was taken from the Freedom Business Alliance, which we are applying to be a part of.
*** This fact was taken from The Polaris Project.
A few articles we found helpful:
1, Myths, Facts, and Statistics of Human Trafficking.
2, Ask Virginia: What is Modern Slavery?
3, Hampton Roads is especially vulnerable to human trafficking.