By Anne Childers, Staff Writer
Human trafficking may well be the biggest industry you have never heard of. Forced labor and human trafficking is a$150B industry globally with 20.9M victims worldwide, according to figures supplied by the International Labor Organization. Victims of human trafficking include children, women, and men who are subjected to sexual exploitation or forced labor through force, fraud, or coercion.
The U.S. Department of Justice human trafficking task force reports 83% of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States are U.S. citizens with an average age of 12-14. Florida continues to rank third in the nation in the number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Those calls signal an increased local awareness largely because of state level action.
Attorney General Pam Bondi has worked with Florida’s legislative leaders to create a 15-member Statewide Council on Human Trafficking. The Council, chaired by Bondi, was created and signed into law in 2014. It is comprised of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, legislators, and experts in the fields of health, education, and social services.
Attorney General Bondi is committed to an all-hands-on-deck approach to eradicating human trafficking. You can be part of the solution for victims of modern-day slavery by raising your own awareness, and alerting authorities to suspicious activities.
Signs of human trafficking can include but are not limited to:
• Poor mental health or abnormal behavior
• Poor physical health
• Lack of control
• Few or no personal possessions
• Is not in control of his/her own money
• Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
• Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
If you think you have come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, do not become involved personally, but do call one of the professional services trained to recognize and rescue victims.
Report your suspicions anonymously to local law enforcement, the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, the U.S. Department of Justice Hotline at 1-888-428-7581, the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (22873), or 911. Pasco FREE (pascoFREE@gmail.com) is accepting members—email for details, and anyone wishing to share information with this publication may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, go and watch the WEDU video at http://www.wedu.org/humantrafficking or contact MyFloridaLegal.com. Please get involved and ask yourself how your organizations or place of worship can make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.
“The Statewide Council on Human Trafficking will coordinate and enhance efforts to further combat human trafficking and to support victims of this horrific crime.”
— Attorney General Pam Bondi