#TalkTraffic: What Should You Do If You See Someone You Think May Be Trafficked?

This is the tenth video in our #TalkTraffic video series, which we are releasing on Human Trafficking Awareness Day (January 11, 2017). See Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

At NY Anti-Trafficking Network, people ask us all the time, “What should I do if I see or meet someone who may be trafficked? How do I help in the moment?” It can be difficult to tell if a person has been trafficked, and it takes time and understanding to see how you can help. Learn more about how you can support someone you think may be a victim or survivor of trafficking.

What You Need To Know

If you see someone you think may be trafficked, it’s a good thing you are showing compassion and interest in your fellow community members. But it’s important to stay calm and not to panic, and to think carefully about what that person might need, rather than rushing in to help.

  • It’s very difficult to tell if a person is being trafficked from just looking at someone or from only one or a few conversations. There is no formula or “quick fix” to figuring this out.
  • If you act quickly without understanding a person’s situation, the trafficker could be nearby, putting them in more danger. And calling the police or 911, especially without that person’s knowledge or consent, can be very dangerous. It may actually result in the person being arrested or deported.
  • If you regularly see someone whom you think may be trafficked, slowly build a relationship with that person. Be friendly, engage in small talk, make eye contact, and let them know over time you’re someone they can trust and you’re willing to be a resource.

At times, people feel a strong emotional response when they think they are meeting someone who may be trafficked, and they want to rush in and try to “rescue” the person who may be a victim.

  • The problem with this “rescuer” mentality is it takes the focus away from the survivor and puts it on the so-called “rescuer” and his or her point of view.
  • This has a negative consequence: It sidelines the voices of survivors and their ability to make their own decisions and reclaim their own voice, dignity, and ability to move forward in life.
  • If you see a situation that might involve trafficking, call a qualified and trusted organization that works with trafficking survivors and they can help foster a human rights approach and expertly navigate the possibilities for helping a person at risk.

If you know someone is trafficked, or if you believe they need help, once you have built up a trusting relationship, there are concrete and non-intrusive things you can do through everyday interactions.

  • Give them a cell phone they can use on their own.
  • Offer phone numbers for trafficking hotlines or domestic violence shelters, or tell them about how 911 works.
  • Tell them where the nearest hospital is.

It’s important to remember, even if you aren’t sure in the moment if a person is trafficked or you’re not able to reach out and help, there is still a lot you can do to support survivors and end trafficking! Watch our video on how you can help.

Share this video: youtu.be/f3SaSP2slNg

Connect with us! nyatn.org | @NYATN | #TalkTraffic | Facebook

See the whole #TalkTraffic video project.

Learn more about what you can do to help.

Production Credits — Producers: Juhu Thukral, Jeffrey Yamaguchi, and Suzanne Seltzer. Video Production/Filming/Editing: Jordan Timpy and Cassie Timpy of Agape Visuals (Read their write-up about working on this project). Music: Broke For Free.

#TalkTraffic: Why Decriminalize Sex Work?

This is the ninth video in our #TalkTraffic video series, which we are releasing on Human Rights Day 2016. See Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Trafficking happens in a wide range of low-wage industries, including sex work. In most places around the world, engaging in sex work can get you arrested. This actually makes it harder for sex workers and survivors of trafficking to seek help when they need it. Learn more about why it’s important to decriminalize sex work and keep people out of the criminal justice system.

What You Need To Know

People engage in sex work for a variety of reasons, most often because they need to support themselves and their families, and their other work options won’t pay enough for a living wage. At NY Anti-Trafficking Network, we often say, people engage in sex work because of choice, circumstance, or coercion, with life circumstance being the most common reason.

  • But there are sex workers who face coercion, which is the key element of trafficking. This means they are working in a climate of fear, or in isolation or abuse, and they are afraid to leave.
  • Sex workers who have been trafficked may have someone withhold their passport; advertise a job as waitressing when it really involves prostitution; make threats against their family; engage in physical abuse; or threaten to call the police or immigration to make an arrest.
  • The threat of arrest makes it difficult for a trafficked person to leave, because sex work is considered a crime in most parts of the world.

Many sex workers who have been trafficked are arrested, often repeatedly, before anyone in the criminal justice system understands they need help. Arrest is never an appropriate way to try to help someone who may be a trafficking survivor or is involved in sex work.

  • Arresting people who may be trafficked only drives them further into vulnerable situations.
  • Arrests create trauma, chaos, and unintended consequences in a person’s life (for example, affecting their family, children, housing, and co-workers.)
  • Arrest also adds an additional layer of complex legal consequences into that person’s already complicated and difficult situation. Under U.S. immigration law, even having a prostitution-related arrest on your criminal record can affect a person’s chances to stay on the roadmap to citizenship.

It is also dangerous for sex workers and trafficked people when customers of sex workers get arrested.

  • When customers are afraid of being arrested, it makes it more difficult for sex workers to negotiate safe conditions and decent pay. Sex workers may also be threatened by police so they will cooperate in a criminal case.
  • Actually, customers and other brothel workers are often the people who help sex workers leave trafficking situations, since they know more about their lives and daily routines than most of us.

Ultimately, it is protecting the human rights of sex workers and creating better economic options for people that helps to prevent trafficking and to keep sex workers safe.

Share this video: youtu.be/JJJ_3deYL3A

Connect with us! nyatn.org | @NYATN | #TalkTraffic | Facebook

See the whole #TalkTraffic video project.

Learn more about what you can do to help.

Production Credits — Producers: Juhu Thukral, Jeffrey Yamaguchi, and Suzanne Seltzer. Video Production/Filming/Editing: Jordan Timpy and Cassie Timpy of Agape Visuals (Read their write-up about working on this project). Music: Broke For Free.

NYATN Receives Awesome Without Borders Grant

NY Anti-Trafficking Network is so excited and grateful for our Awesome Without Borders grant from The Harnisch Foundation. This grant allows us to create two more #TalkTraffic videos on important anti-trafficking issues. Coming soon!

Human Rights and Economic Opportunity Will End Trafficking

One of NYATN’s founders and Steering Committee member, Juhu Thukral, wrote a journal article in the Anti-Trafficking Review. Here is a short preview:

Response to ATR Debate Proposition: ‘Prosecuting trafficking deflects attention from much more important responses and is anyway a waste of time and money’

This statement by the editors of this issue on the place of prosecution in ending human trafficking is of course hyperbolic, but it points to a basic truth about different strategies to protect human rights around the world. The ultimate goal in any anti-trafficking work should be twofold: preventing trafficking from happening in the first place; and helping survivors reclaim their voices and their lives so they can define how they want to move forward. Engaged audiences care about trafficking as a global issue and find it horrifying because it violates a shared hope—dignity for all people—and the communal belief that everyone deserves a chance to thrive and seek opportunity in life. To continue, please click here.

Please cite this article as: J Thukral, ‘Human Rights and Economic Opportunity Will End Trafficking’, Anti-Trafficking Review, issue 6, 2016, pp. 134–137 issue 6, 2016, pp. 130–133, www.antitraffickingreview.org.

The Anti-Trafficking Review promotes a human rights-based approach to anti-trafficking. It explores trafficking in its broader context including gender analyses and intersections with labour and migrant rights.

 

The Intersection of Immigration and Criminal Justice for Women, Girls, and Transgender People

Juhu Thukral of NYATN’s Steering Committee wrote a piece for the Vera Institute’s blog on gender and justice, on the dangerous intersection of the criminal justice and immigration legal systems, with particular impact on women, girls, and trans people. You can check it out here.

Women’s Rights in Sustainable Development: The New Legal Frontiers

NYATN Steering Committee member Suzanne Tomatore will be speaking on a panel entitled “Women’s Rights in Sustainable Development: The New Legal Frontiers” which will take place during the second week of the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW60). The event is free and no pass is necessary. Speakers include Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora, Prof. Cynthia Soohoo, Director, Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic, CUNY School of Law, HE Mrs. Toyin Saraki, Founder and Director, The Wellbeing Foundation of Africa, Deborah Enix-Ross, Chair, Business and Human Rights Project of the ABA Center for Human Rights, and Suzanne Tomatore, Director, Immigrant Women & Children Project, City Bar Justice Center. The panel will take place on March 24, 2016 from 8:30 AM-10:00 AM at the Church Center for the United Nations, 2nd fl., 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017.

The event is sponsored by the American Bar Association Section of International Law, Section of International Law Women’s Interest Network, Section of International Law NGO & Not-for-Profit Organizations Committee and Transnational Legal Practice Committee.

Human Rights and Trafficking in Persons: Empowering Women to Address Poverty

Please save the date for our upcoming panel at the Commission on the Status of Women, “Human Rights and Trafficking in Persons: Empowering Women to Address Poverty”. The panel will be held Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 6:15 PM in midtown Manhattan. More information to follow soon. To reserve a ticket, please click here.

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