The Polaris Project organization works with the community, victims, and government in order to put an end to the abuse of human trafficking. They are, “Committed to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery, and to strengthening the anti-trafficking movement through a comprehensive approach (Polarisproject.org).” Working both domestically in the United States and globally, the organization hopes to reach an awareness and concern that can eradicate the epidemic.
Client services, policy advocacy, training and technical assistance, a national human trafficking resource center, are but a few of the many programs, the Polaris Project has developed for this cause. However, it will take a change in society as a whole to terminate trafficking completely. That’s where their interactive services come in. On their website, www.polarisproject.org, readers can find a tab called ‘Take Action’ where they provide numerous ways for anyone to get involved. The project even has a pre-written letter to legislature promoting the passing of the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act, in which all a reader has to do is enter personal information such as, name and address and hit submit. This ‘Take Action’ tab also provides options to sign active petitions, involve your friends, and attend an event.
On the website, readers can find the number to the hotline, and other services that can help in identifying victims if one doesn’t want to get involved through the organization. The hotline’s statistics note that in 2011 alone 19,427 calls were made for the hotline’s assistance. The numbers have only continuously increased since 2008, when just 5,748 calls were made. They encourage that any suspicious behavior be reported to the hotline number, 1-888-373-7888, or even be sent to the messaging service, available by texting ‘BeFree’ to 233733.
The website informs readers on how to recognize the signs of trafficking and list red flags that our communities should look out. The list details characteristics that a victim of trafficking may have: (1) an individual who has a common work and living condition that is very restricted. (2) they are not free to leave, or come and go, as he or she pleases. (3) they work excessively long and/or unusual hours with no or very little pay, and/or they owe a large debt and are unable to pay it off.
These victims also have had their mental health compromised and thus has left them with personality traits that make them fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or nervous. A result of these behavioral traits the victims develop an unusual fear or anxiety when law enforcement is discussed, and may often avoid eye contact.
As far as physical health, the victims often lack health care and may appear malnourished, with signs of physical and/ or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture. They could also have lack of control of his or her personal possessions, money and bank account, identification documents and even speech. The victims often have an ambiguous living situation, lack of knowledge of his or her own whereabouts, a loss of sense of time, and numerous inconsistencies in his or her story. If readers feel as though they know someone like this, the site enables them to request for assessment tools or resource packs if desired.
The ways to get involved both through the Polaris Project and independently are endless. In the ‘Media’ tab, readers can be informed of press releases regarding the issue, as well as the backgrounds of spokespeople and contact information of the Director of Communications and the Media Relations Officer. There is also information on how to do campaigns, host a fundraiser, or just donate directly if that is your preference. The project covers every possible aspect of the issue. If they didn’t answer a question readers may have throughout the site, there is a ‘frequently asked questions’ section that include inquiries regarding human trafficking such as, “Is human trafficking another term for smuggling?” The writers answer ‘no’ in a detailed explanation of how there are, “…many fundamental differences…” between the two. If a reader still feels as though there is a question they have that was unanswered, the website provides the means to contact an official that will allow them to obtain a direct answer.
Not only does the organization work with victims of sex trafficking, they also cover labor trafficking as well. This includes “anyone forced into different forms of “labor or services” such as domestic workers held in a home or farm-workers forced to labor against their will (Polarisproject.org).” All forms of trafficking have a common denominator that stands as a lack of the victim’s will. The universality between the trafficking of persons for labor and sexual exploitation aids in the growth of this crime. The issue of human trafficking is said to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. “With 100,000 children estimated to be in the sex trade in the United States each year, it is clear that the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S. reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated (Polarisproject.org).”
The Polaris Project is an organization that has created an all-encompassing site that I would recommend to people of all levels of knowledge about human trafficking. It is a detailed way to become informed for those who have never heard of trafficking; as well as a great place to refer to for statistics, or government involvement for those who are already more connected. The only area that could be elaborated more is the high demand for people like you to get engaged in the issue! Together we could save lives. If you would like to learn more this is definitely an ideal place to start. You can also call the hotline number as listed above for questions, comments and concerns; 1-888-373-7888 or text ‘INFO’ or ‘HELP’ to ‘BeFree’ (233733).