The Many Faces of Human Trafficking
January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The Salvation Army’s STOP-IT anti-human trafficking initiative uses this important day to remind us of the complexity and many faces of trafficking.
Ann was smuggled to the U.S. from Thailand. She was promised legal immigration status and a job. She was set up with a job at a restaurant, but her smuggler did not obtain immigration papers for her. Anything Ann earned working at the restaurant went directly to her smuggler.
Ann was forced to work 14-hour days with only a 5-minute break per day to eat. She and other employees were housed in the restaurant, sharing one small room. When she complained, the manager hit her and told her he would have her deported if she complained again. When she told the smuggler, she said that if she tried to escape he would kill her parents back home.
Victims of human trafficking in the restaurant and food service industry are forced to work as waiters, bussers, kitchen staff, or even cooks/chefs with little or no pay. In some instances, investigators have uncovered bars and cantinas that not only force female victims of trafficking to work, but also force them to provide commercial sex.
Cases of human trafficking in restaurants have been investigated in multiple states and the prevalence of labor trafficking in restaurants has been commonly cited by human trafficking investigators and service providers as an area of concern. In 2013, there were 90 calls reporting a restaurant trafficking situation to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline.
Trafficked people are forced to work intentionally exhausting hours, live in their place of work, are often physically and sexually abused, and are put under constant surveillance. Most workers were not born in the United States and their immigration status, unfamiliarity with the law, and the language barrier are used to exploit them.
Learn more about human trafficking, as well as how you can help or get help, at STOP-IT’s website.