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Human trafficking growing rapidly

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Human trafficking is big business. So big, in fact, human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries. The Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition (PATC) which was founded in 2005, is an alliance that works with social service, government, and law enforcement agencies. The coalition is dedicated to fighting the issue of human trafficking in the Philadelphia area. PATC works to coordinate solutions to help with the needs of victims. PATC helps to seek and make available services through a network of agencies that can be of assistance.

According to the website for PATC, human trafficking is modern day slavery. Human trafficking is not limited to, third world nations, the Middle East or Western Europe. It is estimated that 12.3 million people worldwide are victims of trafficking. Pennsylvania is considered a source, destination and pass-through state for trafficking in persons. New Jersey is also a prime location for human trafficking because it is a major national and international transportation and shipping corridor. According to the New Jersey Coalition against Human Trafficking, there are three main categories of human trafficking. They are:
1. Sex Trafficking -- Victims of sex trafficking can be found working in massage parlors, brothels, strip clubs, escort services and on the street. They may be children, teenagers or adults lured by false promises and ultimately forced into prostitution.

2. Labor Trafficking --Victims of labor trafficking can be found in many types of domestic non-domestic situations. They work as nannies and maids, in sweatshops, janitorial jobs, restaurants, hair and nail salons, in street sales and on construction sites and farms. The victims are trapped in a cycle of debt, forcing them into involuntary servitude, debt bondage and slavery.

3. More than 50% of victims worldwide are estimated to be under the age of 18.
In the United States, any person under the age of 18 who involved in the commercial sex industry is considered a human trafficking victim. According to DoSomething.org, these are the facts, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.

According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. More than 70% are female and half are children and that the average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. Is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that among children and teens living on the streets in the United States, involvement in commercial sex activity is a problem of epidemic proportion. Many girls living on the street engage in formal prostitution, and some become entangled in nationwide organized crime networks where they are trafficked nationally.

So what can you do? First and foremost learn the signs of human trafficking.

They are:
Living with employer Poor living conditions, multiple people in cramped space, Inability to speak to the individual alone, Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed, an employer is holding identity documents. Do you see Signs of physical abuse or is the person Submissive or fearful or are they not paid.

If you can address the person try and ask a few questions if it is safe for them to reply, Can you leave your job if you want to? Can you come and go as you please? Have you been hurt or threatened if you tried to leave? Has your family been threatened? Do you live with your employer? Where do you sleep and eat? Are you in debt to your employer? Do you have your or passport/identification? Who has it?

What should you do if you suspect human trafficking or slavery? Call 911 if the situation is urgent, contact the FBI, Contact Homeland Security, or you can call 1-888-3737-888 National Human Trafficking Resource Center which is a 24 hour toll free phone call. They will take your information and will send it to the correct officials.

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