The phrase “human trafficking” brings to mind images of horrific events in foreign countries or ancient times and places. Certainly not something that happens here in modern-day America.
In fact, the FBI recently designated the Bay Area as a hub for this shocking form of modern day slavery. Worldwide, the United States is widely regarded as a destination country for modern slavery. The U.S. Department of State estimates that up to 17,500 victims enter the United States each year.
As defined under U.S. federal law, victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of “labor or services,” such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will. In each of situations force, fraud, or coercion have been used control people.
Caltrain has joined the effort to raise public awareness of this terrible crime by posting fliers at four of its stations – San Francisco, Millbrae, Santa Clara and San Jose.
The posters, in English, Spanish and Chinese, feature a toll-free hotline number – 1-888-373-7888 – where people can report suspected instances of trafficking or victims can get help. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Operated by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, calls are anonymous and confidential. Hotline staff are able to provide help, referral to services, training and general information.
Tips also can be reported by texting BeFree (233733).
How can you identify human trafficking? The resource center has a list of potential red flags on its website to help you recognize the signs: http://www.polarisproject.org
The posters are the result of State Senate Bill 1193, which mandates that posters about human trafficking be prominently displayed in certain types of businesses, including transit centers.