Human trafficking continues to be a global issue

Human trafficking-signs to look for and who to call if you suspect something is going on.

Human trafficking continues to be a global issue, affecting millions of people on an annual basis.  According to Homeland Security, (2015) “Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States”. Human trafficking continues to be one the most lucrative forms of business in the world. However, more non-government, grassroots efforts, not-for profits, government, and advocacy agencies are taking stronger stances against the international business of human trafficking. 

Even though this market spreads far and wide, there are many who are taking a stand and increasing efforts to assist victims and their loved ones who find themselves involved in this serious and often times life-threatening situation.  As services and communities  work to decrease and stop the incidences of human trafficking, several indicators are now known that are typical  for victims of human trafficking. This means that everyone, aware of the signs, can be on alert for catching human trafficking.  There are several organizations that provide services for victims, families, governments and service providers:

According to the Polaris Project Polaris Project-Recognizing the Signs  below are a list of signs that a person may be involved in human trafficking:

  • Aversion of eye contact
  • Under the age of 18 and involved in prostitution
  • Works long and excessive hours
  • They are fearful, anxious, timid, and submissive
  • Is unable to move freely
  • Appears under the influence of drugs
  • Show signs of physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or torture
  • Appears malnourished
  • Lacks control of money, identification and is not allowed to speak for themselves
  • Their story is inconsistent
  • Deprived living conditions
  • Appears sickly

The State of Michigan Attorney General, Bill Schuette, “arrested five residents of Southeast Michigan for conducting a human trafficking operation through a prostitution ring, called "Detroit Pink."  Five individuals who were from Detroit and subburbs of Detroit  were each charged with multiple felonies including Human Trafficking, Pandering, Accepting the Earnings of a Prostitute and Racketeering. The charges result from an extensive investigation conducted by Michigan State Police and the FBI through the Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force that revealed human trafficking involving at least one child, as well as forced drug running across the country. The status of four of the five defendants have pled guilty to human trafficking and are now serving their sentences.  The primary defendant has been bound over to circuit court and is awaiting trial”. There continues to be efforts to address such situations as this throughout the State of Michigan.

These are not the only possible indicators of human trafficking, but are important to keep in mind. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)  and Homeland Security Homeland Security - Combating Human Trafficking  recommend calling 911 and/or a toll-free hotline 1-888-373-7888 where specialists are available 24/7 to take report of potential human trafficking victims.  In Michigan there are several state and tribal laws that have been passed which begin to address the human trafficking issue that continue to plague our tribal nations, country, and world. Please look for the next article discussing several pieces of legislation related to Human Trafficking.

To learn more about Government and Public Policy programs offered through Michigan State University Extension, please contact me, Emily Proctor, Tribal Extension Educator with questions or comments at (231)-439-8927 or  

Other articles in this series:

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