I recently published a story on the Foreign Policy Association Blog Network, Trafficking? Not in my town…Yes, in every town, which featured the story of 5 year-old, Shaniya Davis, from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Shaniya was reportedly kidnapped and her body was later found on the side of a rural highway in North Carolina. Her mother was later charged with human trafficking for placing her daughter into ’sexual servitude’.
The story lead me an interview with Blog Talk Radio’s DC based show, “A Measure Of Truth”. I sat down with host, Michael Fordham to discuss some of the harsh realities of human trafficking/modern slavery and how it can effect every town, and we can all make an impact in helping to bring awareness to, and an end to, this horrendous crime against humanity. Click here for the recorded pod cast.
The case in NC has led many to seek to ask tough questions on whether this tragedy could have been prevented, however while the general issue of abuse has been addressed, few have touched on the realities of human trafficking. Out side of the human trafficking field few have questioned or mentioned the demand for sex, sex with a child, that factored into this story, which is haunting reality for many children across the globe. The demand for children that exists in Fayetteville, NC or, Washington, DC is the same demand that fuels sexual slavery in India, Thailand and beyond. This brings me back to an older article I published, Are we still clueless about modern slavery?. The hard truth is overall, yes! However we are progressing, we do have a long way to go. First steps are to educate yourself on what human trafficking is, then make yourself aware of the signs and how to report any suspected cases or potential victims.
What is Human Trafficking, or Modern Slavery? It is when the use of fraud, force, or coercion is used in which to exploit an individual for the mere means of profit or economic gains. There is no stereotypical face of human trafficking, for the chains of modern slavery can bind anyone, of any gender, race, religion or age. Those bound by slavery do not have to cross borders to be victimized, for one can be exploited within their own home, community, as well as half across the globe. Modern slavery comes in many shapes and forms, such as; child soldiers, forced labor through debt bondage, and forced prostitution or sex slavery. And as we have seen, not even rural North Carolina is immune to this disease of power and greed, which binds some 27 million people around the world.
It does happen right her in our nations capital, and not rarely. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) considers Washington, DC one of the top 14 sites in the country for sex trafficking of American children. (FBI, 2005). According to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Task Force members maintain that hundreds of sex and labor trafficking cases in the Washington, DC area remain undiscovered each year.
Anyone can become a victim; there isn’t one face to human trafficking and modern slavery. How do you know if you have come across a victim? The following is a list of potential red flags and indicators of human trafficking. If you see any of the following red flags, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888 now to report the situation.
• Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
• Is not free to leave, or come and go
• Works excessively long and/or unusual hours , has no breaks or unusual restrictions at work
• Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
• Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
• Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
• Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous / paranoid behavior
• Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up “law enforcement”
• Avoids eye contact
• Appears malnourished or is in poor physical health
• Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse
• Has little to no personal possessions
• Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
• Has numerous inconsistencies in their story
Note: This list is not exhaustive and rather represents a selection of possible indicators and may not be present in all trafficking cases. Please see http://www.slaverystillexists.org for a more conclusive list