According to the National Human Trafficking Center, since 2007, there have been over 17,000 survivors of human trafficking identified in the United States. In 2016, the three states that had the highest number of cases of sex trafficking were California, Texas, and Florida. The majority of survivors are female and U.S. citizens.
Domestic sex trafficking is happening right in front of our eyes. It is for this reason that Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is taking a proactive stance against the sex trade.
TAT is a non-profit organization that has the mission to educate and train employees of the trucking and travel plaza industry on domestic sex trafficking. Since 2009, its aim is to teach truckers of the U.S. to be vigilant and sensitive to the signs of human trafficking.
In January 2015, Con-way Truckload driver Kevin Kimmel identified a young girl in danger. He noticed that she looked unwell and immediately called the police. His awareness of domestic sex trafficking compelled him to take action. As a result, he saved a young girl from a couple who had kidnapped her and forced her into sex trafficking.
TAT teaches truckers to believe in their power to save a life from sex trafficking. They learn that traffickers are the problem and that any minor who is forced to sell his or her body is not a prostitute.
Here are a couple of ways that TAT is combating sex trafficking.
- The Freedom Drivers Project is a mobile exhibit that shows how the trucking industry and law enforcement are uniting to make a difference and fight domestic sex trafficking.
- The Industry Training Program has educated and empowered truckers across America. Truck drivers have made over 1,589 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which has led to the discovery of 503 potential cases of human trafficking.
While they are stationed in their parking lots, here are some signs of sex trafficking that truck drivers are encouraged to look out for.
- Flashing lights indicate to the trafficker that there is a potential client.
- Minors (including boys) and women going from truck to truck. The young girls and women tend to be scantily dressed.
- A group of girls and one male driver exiting their car and approaching the trucks.
- A minor or adult woman who is scared, anxious, tense, or nervous.
- A minor or adult woman who looks physically ill.
- A minor or adult woman who is afraid to speak when her “male companion” approaches her.
- A minor or adult woman who appears to have been physically or sexually abused.
- Tattoos on a minor or adult woman that indicate branding.
Although in 2015, truck stops accounted for only 1.5% of sex trafficking venues in America, there are over three million truck drivers who serve as the eyes and ears of our nation. Their understanding of the signs of sex trafficking benefit potential victims found in various venues, such as in bars, motels, and hotels (also frequented by truck drivers).
According to Polaris, there have been multiple reports of human trafficking across all 50 states. By equipping their truck drivers with the right skills, TAT is hoping to liberate many enslaved by the sex trade.
If you too would like to make a difference, please inform your family and friends about the signs of domestic sex trafficking. Together we can fight against trafficking and empower lives.
Contributing Writer, Two Wings