According to the International Labour Association, it’s estimated more than 40.3 million people are trapped in modern slavery – with 1 out of 4 victims being children.
Human trafficking is happening all over the world and likely in your own community – and possibly even right next to you on your flight.
The good news is, now more than ever, travel industry employees are working to combat human trafficking – and they’re pleading with fellow travelers like you to join them in the fight.
So what can you do?
Well, a lot of things!
You can start with being aware of your surroundings.
While spotting human trafficking isn’t always obvious since not all traffickers travel with their victims, there are still signs you can be on the lookout for on your next travel adventure.
It might seem obvious (or maybe not), but if you notice a disheveled traveler with worn out or ill-fitting clothing – especially if they’re traveling with a well-dressed man (or woman) – something could be up.
Not that everyone dresses to the nines when they travel, but if the woman or young girl is wearing dirty, rumpled clothes and her companion is in a 3-piece suit – it’s a bit suspicious.
Other traffickers also mark their victims with tattoos of a barcode symbol or sayings like “daddy” or “property of” followed by the trafficker’s name.
And no, this isn’t just in the movies.
While I was in El Salvador, we visited a street where girls were actually being trafficked.
We were handing out toiletries and inviting them to a medical clinic when I hugged one crying woman and noticed she literally had her trafficker’s name tattooed on her body.
Yes, it was truly horrific.
Some signs like this are obvious while others are more subtle – such as a passenger who won’t make eye contact with anyone else or seems frightened of her travel companion.
And remember – some human trafficking victims are here in America illegally, so they’re trained to be afraid of airline personnel too.
Confusion Surrounding Travel
If you happen to be talking to your seatmate and they seem confused about where they are going or how long they’re staying – this could be a telltale sign something isn’t right.
Traffickers usually keep details hidden from their victims and won’t disclose to them where their final destination actually is.
Likewise, if the person you’re talking to seems to keep repeating the same scripted story, or something just seems off – trust your gut and notify a flight attendant who may be able to gauge the situation more appropriately.
Donate Your Miles And Points
Did you know simply by donating your unused miles and reward points you could actually help purchase a flight for a human trafficking survivor?
Simply donate your points to Polaris, a non-profit dedicated to disrupting and preventing human trafficking. Polaris also runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline which serves the victims of human trafficking.
Polaris reported on the incredible way they’re using these miles:
“If you are a Delta SkyMiles member, you can donate your miles to Polaris through the SkyWish program.
Donated miles go directly to the National Human Trafficking Hotline and are used to purchase flights for survivors of human trafficking who need to travel to escape their trafficking situation, attend a long-term recovery program, reunite with loved ones, testify in court against their trafficker, work as an advocate in the anti-trafficking field, and more.”
Polaris also takes hotel points from places like Wyndham or Marriott to provide shelter for human trafficking victims.
So be encouraged, fellow traveler.
While it’s true that the human trafficking crisis is big and powerful – if each of us does our own part, we can truly make a difference – and maybe even save a life.
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