By: Stephanie Jira
Most of us have been a witness to something that makes us question what just happened. Maybe it was a young man slapping a woman, you think is his wife, in the face after she made him mad. Maybe it is a salon in downtown that has a parking lot full of cars but yet the sign says closed. It could have been a child that you never see out side and does not attend any kind of schooling. It could be a little girl who does not trust anyone and is frightened of being touched. Sometimes you see or hear something that makes you wonder if everything is really all right with that person or that situation. A feeling kind of creeps all over you and you get the idea that something is wrong. So, what do you do? Do you stay silent and just try to forget it? Do you go and say something to someone even though you risk being wrong? After all, maybe you just imagined it. So when do you speak up and when do you decide to stay quiet? There are some questions that can help you when you think someone could be a victim of human trafficking.
First, you have to remember that we are all human and we often assume that the way we perceived something is always correct. No human being is perfect and our assumptions are not always right, so let’s go into these questions with an open mind and unbiased opinion. If you have seen or heard something that is bothering you try taking a step back for a moment and take another look at the situation. If you still feel something is wrong then these questions should be of some help to you.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help decide if you should speak up. Do they have any free time or are they always working? Can they come and go as they please? Where do they eat and sleep? Can they leave their job or situation if they wanted to? Are all the windows and doors locked so they can not get out? Do they have persistent fear, depression, anxiety, or have submissive behavior? What type of work do they do? Do they live with co-workers or their employer? Are they being controlled (rarely alone, under constant supervision or surveillance , isolated from family and friends, fear of speaking for themselves)? Has anyone threatened them or their families? Have they ever been physically harmed? Have they ever been deprived of food, water, sleep, or medical care? Has their identification documents been taken from them? Do they have to ask for permission to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom? Are they being paid?
These questions may seem odd to some but remember the definition of human trafficking and than ask these questions. So what do you do after you have asked these questions? If you still believe that someone is a victim of human trafficking get help! Your local police should be your first call. When you suspect someone is a victim for human trafficking and it is obvious they need help now. Your local police can then call in the F.B.I. and or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE the U.S. Government Law Enforcement lead on Human Trafficking has been conducting Human Trafficking investigations long before it became the issue that it is today. If you find that your local police are not well equipped to deal with human trafficking then the ICE hot line is your next best bet. Is it better to be wrong and look foolish or be right and have someone live life one more day as a slave? There is help out there for the victims but they can’t be reached unless they are discovered. So will you stand silent or will you speak up the next time you get that feeling and have asked the above questions? Maybe you think that you will never be exposed to a victim of human trafficking but unfortunately it is a growing crime. These questions could save and change a life
Stephanie Jira is the Little Rock Regional Director of NOT FOR SALE-AR
Law Enforcement Source Matthew G Jack