19 June 2023

Human Trafficking Is More Prevalent Than You Think

While it’s very difficult to get any sort of exact numbers, human trafficking is a global market that brings in billions of dollars a year. However, when people think about it, they often conjure up scenes from movies. More importantly, they have an idea that it’s happening, but not “here”.

Human trafficking isn’t just happening in third-world countries. It isn’t just happening across the sea. It isn’t just happening in the metropolitans of the world. It’s happening in communities across the globe, big and small.

Even in places where sex work is legal, human trafficking can still exist. The difference is the victim is not working for themselves, and they do not consent. They are groomed and manipulated into it.

However, an important step we can all take is to commit to learning and speaking about this issue, however difficult it might be.

Identifying A Human Trafficking Victim

While more aggressive tactics like kidnapping are not completely absent, many cases of human trafficking aren’t as obvious as a snatch and grab in broad daylight. As we mentioned before, victims are manipulated, abused, and isolated in order to control them. Traffickers will use things like the promise of money, identification documents, work locations, living arrangements, relationships, and the promise of a better life.

Some warning signs you should be aware of are:

  • Strange or out-of-character behaviour
  • Visible signs of abuse
  • Visible branding or scarring
  • Always has to ask for permission to do something and never makes their own choices
  • Suddenly wearing much nicer clothes or an unexplained increase in money
  • Absenteeism

Nearly anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, boys included, but there are groups who are more vulnerable:

  • New immigrants
  • Migrant workers
  • Youth
  • Women and girls
  • Indigenous persons
  • People living in poverty, substance use disorders or victims of trauma
  • The LGBTQ+  community

What You Can Do

If you ever see signs of human trafficking, you can always contact your local law enforcement agency. There are also specific hotlines depending on where you live, such as the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline. Alternatively, Crime Stoppers is an organization who helps law enforcement through tips received from the public.

One of the major hurdles in combating human trafficking is breaking the mentality, usually in youth, that they are “snitching” on someone for reaching out for help. It’s important to educate them that they are helping the person, and that this person is not acting of their own free will, but through predatory manipulation.

Tips to organizations trying to fight human trafficking can also remain confidential if you so choose.

Finally, you can also help support some amazing organizations like Not In My City, who are raising awareness and taking action to prevent human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

For more on the subject, the latest episode of our podcast, Conquering Chaos and Mayhem, features Tracy Lowey, Crime Analyst for the Calgary Police Service. In this episode, Darryl and Tracy take a deep dive into human trafficking, a topic that many are uncomfortable talking about, but needs to be brought into the spotlight. Tracy was adamant on that point, saying “This isn’t something that’s going away. We’re not going to stop talking about it just because some people are uncomfortable with it.”