A wide range of estimates exists on the scope and magnitude of
modern-day slavery. The International Labor Organization (ILO)—the
United Nations agency charged with addressing labor standards,
employment, and social protection issues—estimates that there are at
least 12.3 million adults and children in forced labor, bonded labor,
and commercial sexual servitude at any given time.
Of these victims, the ILO estimates that at least 1.39 million are victims of commercial sexual servitude, both transnational and within countries. According to the ILO, 56 percent of all forced labor victims are women and girls. Human traffickers prey on the weak. Targeting vulnerable men, women, and children, they use creative and ruthless ploys designed to trick, coerce, and win the confidence of potential victims. Very often these ruses involve promises of a better life through employment, educational opportunities, or marriage.
The nationalities of trafficking victims are as diverse as the world's cultures. Some leave developing countries, seeking to improve their lives through low-skilled jobs in more prosperous countries. Others fall victim to forced or bonded labor in their own countries. The majority of transnational victims are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation.
You can learn how to identify trafficking victims by asking questions and looking beneath the surface. These skills could help you save a life.
While each trafficking victim is different, they all share the common bond of suffering and exploitation. Read their stories.
IDENTIFYING AND HELPING TRAFFICKING VICTIMS
What Should You Do If You Are a Victim of Trafficking and Need Help or if You Suspect That Someone has been Trafficked?
Signs That Someone Might Be a Trafficking Victim
As governments, law enforcement, relief or health workers, and NGOs work to combat human trafficking, it is essential to properly screen for victims of human trafficking.
The screening process begins with an assessment of indicators that can be evaluated before interviewing an individual. The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) "Look Beneath the Surface" anti-trafficking public awareness campaign recommends that the following indicators can flag potential victims:
- Evidence of being controlled, evidence of inability to move or leave job;
- Bruises or other signs of physical abuse;
- Fear or depression;
- Not speaking on own behalf and/or not speaking local language; or
- No passport or other forms of identification or documentation.
If one or more of these indicators is present, the interviewer should pursue questions that will help identify the key elements of a trafficking scenario. HHS recommends the following questions:
- Why type of work do you do?
- Are you being paid?
- Can you leave your job if you want to?
- Can you come and go as you please?
- Have you or your family been threatened?
- What are your working and living conditions like?
- Where do you sleep and eat?
- Do you have to ask permission to eat/sleep/go to the bathroom?
- Are there locks on your doors/windows so you cannot get out?
- Has your identification or documentation been taken from you?
By looking beneath the surface, a life might be saved.