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Know the Signs

Recognizing a trafficking victim

As a freedom-fighter, you will be going out into your community, staying alert and learning about the reality of human trafficking going on all around you. But knowing a victim when you see one is difficult.  There isn’t just one face of trafficking.  Victims might be female, male, young or old. A victim isn’t likely to speak out about their situation for fear of retribution to themselves or family members.

So how can you identify a potential victim?

Common signs include:

  • Malnutrition, dehydration or poor personal hygiene
  • Bruising, broken bones, or other signs of untreated medical problems
  • Post-traumatic stress or psychological disorders
  • No control over identity or travel documents.
  • Little or no pocket money. A trafficker or pimp may control all their money.

Visible Signs of Trafficking

Besides the personal signs of the victim, other signs can identify a location where trafficking is taking place.

  • Heavy security including barred windows, locked doors, isolated location and electronic surveillance.
  • Victims living at the work site or being driven between quarters and “work” by a guard.
  • Victims being kept under surveillance when taken to a doctor, hospital or clinic for treatment.
  • High foot traffic such as a stream of men arriving and leaving the premises of a brothel.

Questions to ask a potential trafficking victim

  1. Have you worked here for long?
    • If a potential victim indicates they move around frequently or are taken from one location to another, it may be an indication of trafficking.
  2. Where do you stay at night?
    • If a potential victim is being kept at the work site, it may be an indication of trafficking.
  3. Do you have your ID with you?
    • Traffickers often take away the travel or identity papers of their victims.
  4. Are you able to leave for another job?
    • Victims will not be free to leave.
  5. Are you afraid or feel threatened?
    • If asked directly, sometimes a victim will indicate they are being abused.
  6. Would you like help?
    • Have local contact information available to connect a potential victim to help.