The United Nations International Labor Organization estimates nearly 21 million people are trafficked globally. Of those, an estimated 11.4 million women and girls, and 9.5 million men and boys are affected by this crime which generates more than $150 billion a year around the world.
Human trafficking is involuntary servitude or slavery, and it’s happening in your own back yard.
“Human trafficking” occurs in every city and state across the United States, and in 2019 Ohio was listed as the second highest state experiencing human trafficking.
Victims can be found working in the commercial sex industry (including escort services, brothels, massage parlors, strip clubs, and street prostitution), as well as in restaurants, hotels, factories, private homes as domestic workers, at construction sites, and more.
Those subjected to human trafficking are exploited through forced labor or commercial sex for another’s financial gain. Victims include children and adults. There is no one face to human trafficking.
In 2007, the Sisters of Notre Dame, Sisters of Charity of Saint Augustine, Dominican Sisters of Peace, Sisters of the Humility of Mary, Sisters of the Incarnate Word, Congregation of St. Joseph and Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland joined with other professional colleagues to address the complexities of this human-rights crisis.
The increased collaboration among religious women to counter human trafficking has grown significantly over the past decade. The Collaborative to End Human Trafficking is now leading the effort to unite educators, medical personnel, elected officials and lawmakers, law enforcement, social services providers, advocacy and empowerment groups, judges, therapists, hospitality and transportation providers, and researchers in greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.
We can all play a part in ending human trafficking by recognizing the red flags and reporting human trafficking at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center’s Project STAR (Sex Trafficking Advocacy & Recovery) at 1.855.432.7827.
RED FLAGS of Human Trafficking
In general, the person:
May not speak for themselves; defer to a controlling individual
Can appear submissive, afraid or nervous, and avoids eye contact
Show signs of physical or mental abuse
Has inconsistencies in their story or a well-rehearsed story
Suddenly has new, expensive clothing, jewelry, or other items
Has a tattoo that could, in fact, be a traffickers branding
Has multiple hotel card keys, credit cards or cell phones
Work long or unusual hours with little or no payment
Lives with multiple, unrelated people in small quarters.
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