Stop Human Trafficking: It Starts with You
Stop human trafficking: It starts with us. As many truck drivers know, thousands of American girls, and even boys, often runaways, are seized and controlled by pimps with drugs and money and forced to have sex with as many as a dozen men a night. Some are paid with poker chips, turned in later for scraps of food. Some aren’t paid at all and held in virtual slavery and many would like to stop. Human Trafficking is often not something a victim can just walk away from.
Human Trafficking is on the Rise
The United Nations says human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world: a $40 billion-a-year industry. Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked each year, but exactly how many enter US states like Virginia, is impossible to tally. So Virginia lawmakers decided to focus on raising awareness for students, truck drivers, adult business patrons and casino goers by signing new bills into law this week. CDL LIfe has also produced a feature that helps truckers know what signs to look for when suspecting human trafficking.
Sometimes proximity to major international shipping hubs and larger more cosmopolitan cities are the places around the world where you see the incidents of human trafficking, said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell after the formal ceremony. What really needs to be done is to raise the level of awareness.
[pullquote align=”right”]If you know of someone who is being forced into prostitution, the Polaris Project operates a confidential tip line to stop human trafficking: 1-888-373-7888.
Truckers Against Trafficking provide a national hotline at 1.888.373.7888.[/pullquote]Three of the bills aim to stop human trafficking trends in Virginia. Aside from a bill to provide training and materials, the governor also signed a bill introduced by Del. David Bulova that will require adult businesses to post the telephone number of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Another bill McDonnell signed Wednesday was introduced by Del. Barbara Comstock to give new tools to law enforcement officials and prosecutors to target gangs involved in sex trafficking.
Prepping to Stop: Human Trafficking is on Notice in Virginia
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center estimates that Virginia ranks 10th in calls to its hotline to stop human trafficking, and prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia have prosecuted 16 separate cases of human trafficking in 2011. Last month, federal prosecutors announced the indictments of five Fairfax County residents in gang-led teenage prostitution that spanned Northern Virginia. One of the bills the governor signed this week was introduced by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), which would require the State Board of Education to provide training and materials to local school divisions to help them identify and report instances of human trafficking.
Officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other law enforcement agencies confirmed that there is a growing problem with human trafficking in Virginia, although none of the agencies would provide specifics about ongoing investigations.
The Fight to Stop Human Trafficking Needs Widespread Support
Advocates, including those at Truckers Against Trafficking and the Polaris Project, worry that tough trafficking laws in Maryland and Washington, D.C., are pushing the problem into Virginia. They support tougher laws and awareness programs like this, but also remain vigilant in trying to convince Virginia legislators to intensify crackdowns on the traffickers.
Those of us who have been in the General Assembly for a while recognize that passing the bills is the easy part, said Senator Janet Howell. Much harder is providing the services to the victims of violent crimes.
If you know of someone who is being forced into prostitution, the Polaris Project operates a confidential tip line: 1-888-373-7888.
Truckers Against Trafficking provide a national hotline at 1.888.373.7888. They also offer a free mobile phone app here:
Do you know the human trafficking statistics for the states on your trucking route? The Polaris Project has a handy interactive map that can tell you. Click the image below to get started.