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How to End Human Trafficking

Businesses have a crucial role to play

“Human trafficking is an assault on the dignity of every human being, a vile form of modern-day slavery, and a horrific component of transnational organized crime.” — John Kerry

In the dark underbelly of our world, modern-day slavery thrives. Human trafficking prey on the vulnerable, robbing them of their freedom and dignity and subjecting them to exploitation and suffering. Across borders, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds, this heinous crime continues to afflict millions of innocent lives, leaving devastating impacts on individuals, families, and communities worldwide.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” Exploitation can manifest in diverse ways, such as forced labor, sexual abuse, forced marriage, illegal organ harvesting, and various other instances of modern-day slavery.

Woman suffering behind shroudThe most prevalent form of human trafficking leading to servitude is the recruitment and transportation of individuals into the international sex industry. Approximately 58 percent of all trafficking activities are related to sex slavery. Another type of human trafficking is forced labor, which is believed to have existed since shortly after the beginning of humanity. A recent and highly contentious happening related to trafficking in persons involves the abduction or deceitful actions that lead to the involuntary extraction of bodily organs for transplantation purposes. There’s also human trafficking that exploits children; child trafficking is when children are sold or sent to different locations with the assurance of a better future, only to face various forms of exploitation, including domestic servitude.

Prevention

In this article, we will explore strategies aimed at ending human trafficking. By delving into multifaceted approaches, ranging from ethical business practices to ending and preventing human trafficking as well as fostering community empowerment, we aim to shed light on the path towards a future free from the shackles of exploitation.

Tell-tale signs

Everyone possesses the capacity to recognize a human trafficking situation or victim. Although victims may sometimes be confined, they are frequently concealed in plain sight, such as in construction sites, restaurants, agricultural fields, and hotels. Being able to identify the indicators of human trafficking empowers you to act upon your instincts when something seems amiss, and it enables you to report and prevent trafficking or protect yourselves and others from falling victim to this crime. Some significant warning signs that might signal a potential trafficking situation that ought to be reported:

  • Behaviors indicating they are under the control of others, following instructions as if coerced or forced to do so.
  • Exhibiting physical signs of ill-treatment, such as appearing malnourished, displaying evidence of physical injuries and abuse, and bearing untreated bruises or medical conditions.
  • Working excessively long hours, lacking the necessary protective equipment, underpaid, or not paid at all
  • Lacking official identification documents.
  • Avoiding and is distrustful of authority figures/law enforcement. Being knowledgeable about these signs equips you with the ability to intervene and potentially save lives, fostering a safer and more vigilant society.

Anonymous man holding out hand

Supply chain transparency

Promote ethical consumption and supply chain transparency. Supply chain transparency requires companies to know what is happening upstream in the supply chain and to communicate this knowledge both internally and externally. One reason this process has become increasingly important is that it plays a crucial role in preventing human trafficking. It entails having a transparent and comprehensive understanding of all stages and entities involved in the production and distribution of goods and services. When companies and organizations prioritize transparency, they can effectively identify and address potential risks of human trafficking within their own operations and those of their suppliers. This proactive approach helps create a system where exploitation and trafficking are less likely to occur, promoting ethical practices and ensuring the well-being of all individuals involved in the supply chain.

Supply chain transparency requires companies to know what is happening upstream in the supply chain and to communicate this knowledge both internally and externally.

Here’s how you can improve supply chain transparency in your organization:

  • Ascertain where your organization falls on the transparency continuum
  • Support suppliers in implementing ethical labor practices by providing resources, training, and capacity-building initiatives.
  • Educate employees and suppliers regarding human trafficking risks, warning signs, and the significance of reporting any suspicious activities. Organize training sessions to increase awareness about this issue and foster a culture of vigilance.
  • Implement regular audits and due diligence assessments for all suppliers to evaluate their compliance with ethical labor practices.
  • Conduct a comprehensive mapping of your supply chain, identifying all tiers of suppliers and subcontractors.

Encourage your company to take steps to prevent human trafficking in their supply chains and publish the information, including supplier or factory lists, for consumer awareness.

The implementation of trauma-informed business practices is important for the complete recovery of victims.

Volunteer locally

Engage as a volunteer and offer your support to local or community-based initiatives aimed at combating human trafficking. A compelling initiative of such an endeavor is Mothers Against Sex Trafficking. MAST is an organization developed by Rebecca Grossman to support education through data exchange and prevention through collaboration and outreach. The mission of Mothers Against Sex Trafficking (MAST) is to help raise awareness, provide resources, and strategically align our efforts with organizations working to stop human trafficking for labor and sex. This organization also shares authentic narratives of sex trafficking victims.

Woman in dark room behind barred window

Trauma-informed business practices

Victims of human trafficking frequently endure significant trauma, leading to adverse effects on their functional abilities, behavior, and sense of self-efficacy. Therefore, the implementation of trauma-informed business practices is important for the complete recovery of victims. If you identify areas where your workplace could improve its trauma-informed approach, it is essential to take action:

  • Reach out to management or the human resources team to discuss the importance of trauma-informed practices.
  • Advocate for the implementation of training programs that increase awareness and understanding of the impact of human trafficking on victims.
  • Suggest the development of supportive policies that protect the well-being of employees who were victims of human trafficking.

Conclusion

In conclusion, human trafficking remains a harrowing reality that demands our unwavering attention and collective action. Through multifaceted strategies, we can pave the way for a world free from exploitation. By taking efforts on an individual level and advocating for the adoption of preventive measures within our organizations, we have the power to make a significant change in the fight against trafficking in persons. Together, as a global community, we can work towards eradicating this vile crime, ensuring a future where human trafficking is relegated to the pages of history, forever replaced by a tapestry of compassion, protection, and respect for the dignity of every human being.

Rebecca Gray Grossman took on the position as the volunteer Chair of The Grossman Burn Foundation (GBF) in 2006. She has worked extensively in the healthcare field for over a decade as a researcher, journalist, and marketing executive.
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