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Questions about Human Trafficking

by | Jan 2, 2023

Part of Rethreaded’s purpose is to educate our community about human trafficking. With deeper knowledge, our neighbors are better able to take action and advocate with us for survivors.

Over the last year, we’ve collected questions from many panel discussions and compiled those which people ask the most.

We’re sharing our answers as well as the open invitation to ask us more. Your questions help us not only to inform you but also, through opportunities like this blog, to educate others as well.

1. What role, if any, does pornography play in sex trafficking?

Porn plays a major role in perpetuating sex trafficking. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that all porn is consensual and harmless for both the participant and the viewer. There is nothing harmless about porn.

The consumption of pornography supports the sex trade industry, which feeds the business of human trafficking. There are also long-term harmful effects to the viewer. This brief article from End Slavery Now gives a great explanation about the role of porn in the sex trafficking industry.

2. How often are missing person cases tied back to trafficking?

We do not have exact statistics regarding missing person cases overall; however, we do know that many cases of runaway teens are likely connected to trafficking. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), “1 in 6 of the more than 25,000 cases of children reported missing to NCMEC in 2021 who had run away were likely victims of child sex trafficking.” This page on child sex trafficking from NCMEC has valuable information on the topic. 

3. How do traffickers groom their victims to enter into the life of human trafficking?

Human trafficking is less obvious then we might imagine. Movies and pop culture often paint the picture that human trafficking cases involve a dramatic abduction, but this only happens 5% of the time.

Instead, in almost every instance, traffickers create a relationship with a victim so that he or she can exploit that relationship for profit. This process takes time and intentionality, and victims are often isolated and vulnerable long before they meet a trafficker.

Traffickers take advantage of a victim’s vulnerabilities, which might include drug addiction, mental illness, homelessness, low self-esteem, or the need to belong. They might offer gifts, make promises, or confess love. Then, once trust is built, the trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion to make a person submit to the life of human trafficking. 

 4. Are traffickers typically men?

While this may surprise some, it is not uncommon for women to take on the role of a trafficker.

According to a 2016 global report on all forms of human trafficking, 51% of trafficking victims were women (this jumps to 96% for sex trafficking specifically), and 37% of traffickers were also women.

This paper explores some of the reasons behind these numbers, but one cause is that women, mainly those who are already being trafficked, may be forced to recruit others in order to preserve their own safety or to receive a benefit.

Because women may be perceived as more trustworthy, their involvement in recruiting may be beneficial to male traffickers.

5. For those that work in the hotel industry, what would be signs to look for if a guest is involved in trafficking? While the goal is to ultimately end trafficking, what preventative steps could hotels implement to deter trafficking or traffickers from using said hotel?

Hotels are now legally responsible if human trafficking happens in their hotel, and they are aware that it’s taking place. Beyond that legal responsibility, those in the hospitality industry have an ethical responsibility to become educated and know when to intervene.

That’s why we emphasize the necessity of training; 100% of your employees should be trained to know what to look for. Here are some resources to share with your team:

  1. This 100% club training video video goes through the most common signs, and it actually explores a scenario that shows a young person being trafficked in a hotel.
  2. This panel presentation does a great job of breaking down the signs of human trafficking. 
  3. Here is an article, which explains a hotel’s liability, from the Trafficking Institute.
  4. This 1-hour long training created by the Florida Alliance Against Human Trafficking was created specifically with the hospitality industry in mind. 

Beyond training, we also suggest that staff members are following all policies and procedures you establish for proper guest documentation and that numbers for non-emergency police and the human trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888) are readily available.

6. Is there a particular area in Duval county that has a high rate of human trafficking, or is it spread throughout the county?

Trafficking happens all over the city. It happens in almost every hotel, including the nicer hotels downtown and in Ponte Vedra.

We talked with Sergeant Bill Nelson, who is over the Integrity unit at JSO, and he confirmed that human trafficking is happening all over our city. The intersections of JTB and I-95, and Baymeadows and I-95, are hotspots for their ease of access.

Human trafficking also increases in areas where there are large events, such as the TPC, Jacksonville Jaguars games, and large conventions. From their lived experiences, our survivor advocates have reported a lot of activity around 295 and Blanding (youngerman Circle), Lane Avenue, and many hotels off of Airport Rd.

7. What are the practical and psychological effects of the criminalization of victims?

Criminal charges against victims of human trafficking have major implications in the lives of survivors. The Polaris Project does a great job of unpacking some of these implications here.

Criminalization can significantly restrict a survivor’s opportunities to “obtain future gainful employment, find affordable and safe housing, be able to begin or continue their education at college, obtain financial aid for tuition, retain custody of their children, and can affect an individual’s access to crucial government benefits.”

A former team member of Rethreaded, Jamie Rosseland, shares her personal story and sheds light on the profound psychological effects resulting from criminalization. Her story is published in this edition of the Victim’s Advocate

8. If we have a friend or family member we suspect is being trafficked, how can we talk to them about it? If someone wants some out, what resources are available to them?

Here is a link to an excellent article on how to talk to someone who is currently in human trafficking. Not everyone who is a victim of human trafficking realizes that’s what’s going on; sometimes traffickers are so successfully manipulative that victims are not able to see the degree of control that person has over them.

That’s why these conversations are so sensitive and important. It’s critical to empower a victim to realize, on their own, what’s happening, and to make a conscious choice that they want to leave.

Here is a link to Rethreaded’s resource page on reporting human trafficking, which has a list of local, state, and national resources for women in need of support.

9. Is there a way to work with hotel managers/owners across the board to limit or cut down on the trafficking in their rooms? Or, are there any laws in the works to make it unappealing to allow that business to happen on their premises?

Hotels are now legally responsible if human trafficking happens in their hotel, and the hotel has awareness that it’s happening. You can read more about these laws here and here.

Unfortunately, hotel staff and managers are often paid to turn a blind eye to the trafficking happening in their hotels. For some individuals in the hotel industry, the profit outweighs the possible risk.

We are advocates for increased responsibility for hotels, and any other party which may contribute to sex trafficking, but the greatest weapon any of us has today is education. You can refer to our answer to question number five for more information on training hotel staff to know the signs and report possible sex trafficking.

We hope these answers help to provide information you need to be a part of preventing sex trafficking in our city and beyond. 

If you have questions which have not yet been answered, then please get in touch with our team any time. You can email us or call us at (904) 438-8109.

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