January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Although the legal practice of slavery was abolished in most of the world long ago, the exploitation of people by others has continued in all of its various forms. This includes bonded servitude, slave labor, sex slavery, forced child soldiers, and more. Human trafficking involves the transport of individuals by deception, coercion, or force for the purposes of exploitation and financial or material gain of another person or entity.
Here are ten things you need to know about trafficking including ways you can help here in Vermont and what we are doing at The University of Vermont Medical Center to help victims of human trafficking:
- It is estimated that up to 27 million people worldwide are enslaved. This is more than all the slaves at the height of the transatlantic slave trade. This Immoral Trade by Baroness Caroline Cox is an authoritative summary of the epidemic of modern day slavery.
- Trafficked victims do not need to cross country, state, or even city limits to be trafficked and exploited. Read The Slave Across the Street by Theresa Flores or Renting Lacy by Linda Smith.
- Trafficked victims live and “work” right here in Vermont. Sex slaves in particular are found “for sale” on websites like Craig’s List and Backpage.
- Polaris Project helps monitor anti-trafficking laws and statistics in each of the 50 states.
- The Department of Homeland Security is leading the way in the federal government to fight human trafficking. On their website, you can see the most up to date information on legislation, federal agencies and programs to assist victims of trafficking, and even the national hotline to report suspected trafficking.
- January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. There are a myriad of nonprofit organizations in the US and around the world working to raise awareness about modern day slavery. Give Way to Freedom is one such organization located right here in Vermont.
- Major sporting events in the US and around the world are notoriously huge draws for adult and child sex slaves. It is estimated that the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and the World Cup are the three largest sex slave sporting events in the world. See End It Movement’s awareness video about this serious issue.
- It is possible for victims of trafficking to be rescued and restored to become healthy, productive people. Read Ishmael Beah’s incredible journey in A Long Way Gone.
- Teaching internet safety to kids is vital to protect them from predators and child sex traffickers. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have a fabulous educational website.
- A group of educators and anti-human trafficking advocates at UVM’s College of Medicine is developing a curriculum to teach medical students, medical professionals, and others how to recognize and assist potential victims of human trafficking. There is a growing body of educational materials to train medical personnel, such as CMDA’s online curriculum.
Rachel DiSanto, MD, is a clinical assistant professor for the Department of Family Medicine at The University of Vermont Medical Center and a practicing family physician at North Country Hospital in Newport, Vermont.