MI: Human TraffickingPage 3 of 10

1. Human Slavery Today

Human trafficking is a global issue that affects every country around the world and all ages, races, genders, and cultures. Human trafficking is not a new issue. It has been occurring and will continue to occur unless it is spotlighted by increased education and identification of the victims. Human trafficking is often referred to as “modern human slavery” (Gorman & Hatkevich, 2016).

Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board

To combat human trafficking in Michigan, the Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board was created by Public Act 461 of 2014, signed into law by Governor Snyder as part of a package of 20 bills designed to bolster statewide efforts to combat human trafficking. The Board is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and is made up of 9 members, including healthcare providers, mental health professionals, department representatives, human trafficking prevention experts, and survivors of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is about profit. After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal enterprise in the world (Resendez, 2012) . Because human trafficking has been largely a hidden crime, the public has never been aroused to fight it; a lack of identification with the victims has impeded moves to intervention and to make governmental resources available to them. Healthcare providers, with the proper tools and training, can act as a critical resource in identifying and implementing escape from the victims’ abusers.

A poster from the Blue Campaign defining human trafficking.

Source: DHS, 2022.

The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that, including U.S. citizens and immigrants, 57,700 people are victims of human trafficking (Wikipedia, 2017). The actual prevalence of human trafficking is unknown because most victims are too fearful to come forward (Eccleston, 2013).

Human trafficking is a concern of all hospitals in the country. Many states are now requiring nursing staff to have training in identifying possible victims of trafficking. Most important, we must have the proper training to identify when it is safe to communicate with the possible victim while keeping both the staff and the victim safe from retaliation. In addition, resources must be identified to the victim in advance then provided once desired.

Top priority is to protect the victim from potentially increased harm. Human traffickers are known to be very manipulative and they don’t hesitate to use violence on their victims. As healthcare providers, our goal is keep the victim safe and if possible, assist victims in escaping their abusers. This must be done with finesse and skill. There are several large hospital organizations across the country that are now dedicating clinics to victims of human trafficking (Stempniak, 2017).

Nearly 21 million people worldwide are trapped in a trafficking situation each year, according to the International Labor Organization. During 2017 the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) received 470 calls and 136 case reports related to human trafficking in Michigan. Of the 470 cases reported, 80% were related to sex trafficking while approximately12% were for labor trafficking. In addition:

  • Nearly 88% of cases involved trafficking in women
  • Nearly 70% of case involved adults
  • About 34% of cases involved minors

Top venues for sex trafficking included illicit massage/spa businesses, hotel/motel based locations, residence-based commercial sex operations, escort services, and online ads. Top venues for labor trafficking included traveling sales crews, health and beauty businesses, housekeeping/cleaning services, hospitality businesses, and recreational facilities (NHTH, 2017).

Victims can be any age, race, or culture, and found in any country. The abusers prey on the weak and vulnerable. Youth especially at risk for being trafficked as are those from a lower socioeconomic status or privilege. These young people are at greater risk because they are looking for an escape from poverty or an abusive situation. The trafficker is precise and methodical in cultivating a friendship and what appears as a loving environment with the future victim.

Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states with both U.S. citizens and foreign victims (Stempniak, 2017). Types of human trafficking can vary from community to community.

Human trafficking is found in cities, suburbs, and rural areas.

Source: DHS, 2022.

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