Every day, victims of human trafficking are forced to sell sex at truck stops, rest areas, hotels/motels and other locations within the transportation network. Every day, members of the trucking industry are in these same places – and in a position to make a difference. Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a US-based, non-profit organisation which educates and empowers those in the transportation industry to be part of the solution to human trafficking… and we need your help.
If you attended the Automotive Logistics Global conference in Detroit last September, you will already have some understanding of this issue and our work, but for those who are unaware, human trafficking is defined as the exploitation of human beings through force, fraud or coercion for the purposes of commercial sex or forced labour. This is where you have a third party – the trafficker, the victimiser – in control of someone else and making a profit from their labour. This can take many forms, from forcing someone into prostitution or work at a strip club or “massage” parlour to trafficking them for labour in agricultural fields, inside homes for domestic servitude, on construction sites or even at restaurants. Victims can be citizens or foreigners, men or women, boys or girls.
The unfortunate reality is that victims of trafficking could be around all of us in our everyday lives, but we may just not be attuned to their plight. In fact, traffickers – pimps especially – are counting on all of us thinking that the person they are selling is “just a prostitute” and that we are going to “look the other way” because of preconceived ideas about prostitution. But these victims are not “prostitutes”; they are prostituted people, who are there not by choice but by lack of choice and the exploitative influence of their trafficker keeping them there.
So, what can we do to help? Well, at its core, TAT is about targeted systems change: we are going after hearts and minds in order to raise up a mobile army of transportation professionals to assist law enforcement in the recognition and reporting of human trafficking, in order to aid the recovery of victims and the arrest of their perpetrators. Our training, provided at no cost, is an easy lift for companies to implement and provide actionable strategies that ultimately lead to the discovery and disruption of human trafficking networks.
To date, we have trained over 680,000 people with our materials and 2,221 calls have been made to the national hotline from truckers alone. These calls have helped to identify more than 1,123 victims of human trafficking in the US. All of those lives have been changed, because someone in the transportation industry was empowered by the knowledge of what to look for and what do to, then took the time to make a simple, anonymous phone call. That’s bystander intervention in action!
No matter your position within the automotive logistics industry, TAT has ways for you to engage. Here are just a few ideas for OEMs, logistics service providers (LSPs) and carriers to take action that can make a difference:
We are always looking for new partners, their ideas and support in the fight against human trafficking, and TAT would be honoured to have you stand alongside us. So, please consider using your time and influence to help us advance this life-saving work and see that more victims of the heinous crime of people trafficking are recovered and can go on to become survivors.
Laura Cyrus is director of corporate engagement at TAT