July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Human Trafficking is a modern form of slavery; from forced labor to forced prostitution, human trafficking is a grave violation of human rights that permeates into the world of work.

Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. Immigrant workers in the U.S. and abroad have a particular vulnerability to human trafficking. In the United States, traffickers are robbing a staggering 24.9 million people of their freedom and basic human dignity—that’s roughly three times the population of New York City.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as amended (“TVPA”), defines “severe forms of

trafficking in persons” as:

  • sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  • the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor

or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to

involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

According to the United Nations and the US Department of State:

  • People are trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labor, forced begging, forced marriage; for selling children and as child soldiers; as well as for the removal of organs;
  • Women make up 49% and girls 23% of all victims of trafficking;
  • Sexual exploitation is the most common form of exploitation (59%) followed by forced labor (34%);
  • Most victims are trafficked within their countries’ borders; however, those trafficked abroad are moved to the richest countries.
  • A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within this definition.

This year, the United Nations is focusing on the first responders to human trafficking. These are the people who work in different sectors—identifying, supporting, counselling, and seeking justice for victims of trafficking, and challenging the impunity of the traffickers.

The IAM has several members who, by the nature of their jobs in the transportation industry, find themselves in prime roles for identifying the signs of trafficking. In fact, many transportation employers (such as those in the airline industry) are training our members directly to look for these signs.

During the COVID-19 crisis, the essential role of first responders has become even more important, particularly as the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have made their work even more difficult. Still, their contribution is often overlooked and unrecognized.

Get involved by joining the conversation and using the hashtags #EndHumanTrafficking and #HumanTrafficking on all digital platforms on July 30th.


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