The Communities Role In Fighting Trafficking

I feel like I have come to realize more and more, the strong role a community has in helping to identify victims of human trafficking… I think back over several cases we have dealt with in the last year, and some of the most successful rescues of victims have occurred when the community took a strong role in recognizing the warning signs.

For example, in 2009, an eight year old girl was taken from her community, to be sold into a forced marriage. One of her neighbors witnessed the little girl getting in a strange women’s car and at the time, took down the license plate number and followed the car at a safe distance, just in case. A few hours later when the girls mother reported her daughter missing, this neighbour was armed with evidence to immediately hand over to law enforcement.

This information prevented led the to immediate emancipation of this eight year old child.

On another occasion, a house connected to a local shop was being used to house girls who had been trafficked from their home province to Cape Town for the purpose of domestic servitude, and forced prostitution. Overtime the locals who frequented the shop and lived in the area, noticed that taxi’s were dropping girls off late at night, and that the girls remained locked inside this building all day long. When they tried to talk to the girls through the windows or doors, they realized that the door had no way of being opened from the inside, and the back wall had barbed wire and electric fencing, preventing them from escaping.

They began to realize that many of these young girls were later seen working as prostitutes. Finally someone decided to tip-off the police that there were girls locked in the building. This lead 5 girls being freed, and the shutting down of  an internal trafficking ring. Unfortunately due to lack of legislation, this case will never be tried as human trafficking.

But the fact still remains, we can not wait for the law when it comes to the lives of young boys and girls in our own communities, and it is the job of the community to stand up and question things that do not seem right to them. If they begin to recognize the signs of human trafficking, forced labour, and exploitation within their they can become an important piece of the abolitionist movement!

Not sure what to look for? Check out a list below taken from the book “Not For Sale – The Return of the Global Slave Trade – and How We Can Fight It” This list does not necessarily cover all of the signs of trafficking, but it is a starting point when it comes to asking the right kind of questions that could lead to an opportunity to set the captives free!

Identifying Trafficking*:

– Does the individual have freedom of Movement?

– Is the individual allowed to socialize with other people or attend community events and religious services without accompaniment?

– Does a minor appear to be under the control of an adult who is not his or her parent?

– Does the residence have doors with locks on the outside, or is it surrounded with a barbed wire fence directed internally to keep people inside the property from getting out?

– Are the windows at the residence boarded up?

– Is there a steady flow of males in and out of the residence?

– Do male guardians appear to be constantly monitoring women who come in and out of the residence?

– Has the individual been threatened with deportation or law enforcement action?

– Has the individual, or a relative, been threatened with harm if he or she attempts to leave?

– Is the individual in possession of identification documents (like a passport); if not, who has control of the documents?

– Does it seem as if the individual was coached on what to say when questioned by law enforcement officers?

– Is the individual coerced to engage in some kind of work?

– Is the individual forced to perform sexual acts?

– Has the individual been deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care, or life necessities?

*Not For Sale The Return of the Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight It Copyright David Batstone 2007

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