Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, recently rising to the second most common criminal activity behind the illegal drug trade. Florida has been identified as a hub for human trafficking activity, citing one of the highest incidences of human trafficking in the country and recently listed as the 3rd highest state in the US for human trafficking activity. One way to combat human trafficking is to raise public awareness. We want to start a conversation among community members, students, advocates and professionals about the status of human trafficking in our state.
Forced labor may result when employers exploit workers who are vulnerable due to high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption, political conflict, citizenship status or cultural acceptance of the practice. Victims of domestic servitude generally have an informal workplace such as a home, which often socially isolates domestic workers from the community. That type of informal workplace is conducive to exploitation since authorities cannot inspect private property as easily as they can inspect formal workplaces.
Sex trafficking of an adult usually involves being coerced, forced, or deceived into a commercial sex act. Commercial sex acts include, but are not limited to prostitution and/or pornography as a means for the perpetrator to make money. In the state of Florida, if the victim is a child then force, fraud or coercion does not need to be proven. The mere fact the victim is a child and the act meets the definition of a commercial sex act, makes the child a victim.
According to Florida Statute, human trafficking affects all sectors of our community and victims can be found in plain sight if we learn to identify the signs and take the time to look. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. However, the most frequently used practices are less obvious techniques that include: isolating victims from the public and family members, confiscating passports, visas, or other identification documents, using or threatening to use violence toward victims or their families, prohibiting them from seeing their children, telling victims that they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities, and controlling the victims' funds by holding their money for "safekeeping."
If you believe you are a victim of Human Trafficking or suspect an adult is a victim of human trafficking, please visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, or call them at 1-888-3737-888. If you suspect a child is a victim, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.
FOR MORE INFO: EMAIL PEGGY HOLMES-DEGRAW, CHAIR OF PALM BEACH STATE'S LW HT COMMITTEE OR CALL HER AT 561-868-3438.