May 25, 2011
Last night, Charlie and I went to a Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition gathering where Brad Myles spoke about Human Trafficking. He is the Executive Director and CEO of the Polaris Project. From the Polaris Project website, “Polaris Project is a leading organization in the United States combating all forms of human trafficking and serving both U.S. citizens and foreign national victims, including men, women, and children.” I wanted to share a bit more information on trafficking that might be helpful in better understanding the issue.
It’s helpful to understand exactly what trafficking is. The legal definition of trafficking includes three different situations:
1. Children in the sex trade. Period. Any child who is trading a sex act for anything of value (ie cell phone minutes, money, food, a place to sleep, etc) is being trafficked.
2. Adults who trade sex for something of value when there is a third party (like a pimp) involved using force, fraud or coercion.
3. Adults who are being made to work using force, fraud or coercion.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you a bit more about recognizing some signs of trafficking.
For today, I wanted to let you know about something that every person can do. Program the Polaris Project Hotline into your cell phone. When you see something that doesn’t seem right, you can call it into the hotline. The girl who is obviously under age dressed provocatively on the street at 10:00 at night. The worker in the restaurant who has bruises and doesn’t look like he’s getting enough to eat. The nanny next door who complains that she’s not free to go.
The Polaris Project Hotline is a tip line as well as a crisis and information line. At the Freedom Summit, I heard about a case where someone called in a tip about a girl soliciting for sex who wanted out. In very short time, they had a police officer pick her up and get her into after care. If you program the number into your cell phone, you won’t have to search for it when you see a situation where you suspect that someone is being trafficked.
So here it is:
Trafficking is happening in every community. It’s often out in the open. We just have to learn to see it. I would encourage you to take two minutes right now and program the hotline number into your phone.