January is dedicated to bringing awareness to human trafficking and slavery
You’re a 14-year-old girl living in an impoverished country. You have always dreamed of getting an education. Suddenly, an opportunity of a lifetime comes your way to learn and study in America. This is just what you have hoped might happen. Your close relative has gone to America and has been very successful. She and her husband are medical professionals and show pictures of living in a beautiful home. They tell your parents if you come to live with them, you will be given all kinds of educational and economic opportunities. In return, all you have to do is help them care for their two young children. Sounds perfect, right?
Wrong, when you arrive in America, you find yourself locked in your relative’s home, offered no education, forced to take care of their children day and night, do all the cooking, laundry, cleaning and worst of all, the husband subjects you to unthinkable acts.
As hard as it is to imagine, stories like this happen across the United States and other countries every single day. Human trafficking is a horrible crime that can impact people of all walks of life regardless of age, gender, race, color, national origin, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identify or socioeconomic status. Many victims are lured by false promises in search of a better life. In return, they find themselves in virtual slavery, sometimes forced into the sex trade. Young victims may be caught up in the juvenile-justice system and/or the child-protection system, and their plight needs our understanding.
To increase awareness, improve services for the victims of these crimes and support the prosecution of those who commit them, January has been named National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
To find out more about human trafficking and what you can do about it, go to the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) website or take a look at the Human Trafficking Information and Investigations Strategy Toolkit. Learn how you can help spread awareness.