Number one rule for blogging: keep it positive.
But when it comes to human trafficking, it’s a bit of a challenge. Not gonna lie. I would rather write about the origin story of the café con leche. Or about why Palate baristas get so excited to pour you a nitro cold brew (hint, hint: we’ve got some stylish, new glasses).
But part of Palate Coffee Brewery’s mission is to raise awareness about human trafficking. So without further ado, here are five facts about human trafficking that you didn’t know—and what you can do to help.
1. Human trafficking is America’s problem too.
Before volunteering for Palate, I thought sex slavery only really happened in developing countries. But according to CNN, between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked in the United States each year. In 2014, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline received reports of trafficking cases from every state within the US. And no doubt: there’s been even more cases that were not reported.
2. Traffickers are not always strangers.
We see in TV and movies (Taken, anyone?) that most trafficking victims are snatched off the street. While this is most definitely true, there is still a substantial amount of cases in which the trafficker, or “recruiter,” was known to the victim. According to a United Nations report, 46% of the cases involved a recruiter who already had a relationship with the victim.
3. Traffickers lure victims in many different ways.
Like I said, human trafficking may involve coercion and kidnapping. However, especially in the age of social media, many victims are lured when a trafficker masquerades as a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend, and tricks them into trusting them. Victims can also be tricked into committing to some form of employment contract only to have their legal documentation confiscated.
4. Legalizing prostitution has not helped.
While it’s still up for debate, countries that legalized prostitution have reported that human trafficking remains an issue. According to Equality Now, the Netherlands noted in a 2007 report that “pimps are still a very common phenomenon.” Former mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, stated in 2003 that legalizing prostitution failed to uproot trafficking, saying “it appeared impossible to create a safe and controllable zone for women that was not open to abuse by organised crime.” New Zealand and New South Wales (Australia) have also reported that decriminalizing prostitution did not help end trafficking.
5. Your voice could be the difference between life and death for a victim.
Learn how to spot human trafficking victims. Victims rarely speak up because traffickers threaten to kill their families if they attempt to escape or seek help. Your intervention could save a life. If you see something suspicious, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373 7888.
While these facts are disturbing—and, believe me, there’s more where that came from—there is still hope. Your help. Raise awareness, spread the word, volunteer. Together, we can fight to end human trafficking.
Learn more about Palate’s parent anti-trafficking nonprofit, Love Missions, and what you can do to help.