The United Nations has marked July 30 as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. It’s one day each year for all the world to spread awareness about human trafficking and denounce a crime that continues to tear apart lives. It starts with one day. We must come together as a community, not just on July 30, but continually, to end human trafficking
Often regarded as a crime “that doesn’t happen here” or “won’t happen to me,” human trafficking occurs everywhere, and traffickers do not discriminate when choosing victims. Traffickers target people of all ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and geographical locations. In 2019, 11,500 cases of human trafficking in the United States were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888). The Hotline received 234 reports of human trafficking from Arizona alone. These reports included people exploited for sex and labor in many different settings including traveling sales crews, agriculture, massage parlors and pornography. Human trafficking is underreported, so the number of people being trafficked in Arizona is far greater than the number of cases reported to the Hotline. Many people within our communities are experiencing the trauma of human trafficking and recovering from the abuse of traffickers.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Phoenix collaborates with government agencies, law enforcement and other organizations in Arizona and nationally, working to ensure that all survivors of trafficking receive supportive services and investigators implement culturally sensitive and trauma informed approaches. The IRC in Phoenix specializes in serving foreign survivors of trafficking, providing comprehensive case management, therapy and financial assistance.
In addition, the IRC maintains the ALERT Hotline (1-888-602-5378), for Arizona survivors of trafficking. "Having a hotline available to victims is important because it provides them with the resource to get immediate help at any time without having to contact law enforcement. Often times, victims are afraid to reach out to law enforcement due to the nature of their situation or fear of repercussions. With the ALERT hotline, victims are able to call or text when they are in need of urgent transportation, housing, or other resources and the IRC Anti-Trafficking Team is able to either directly provide that assistance or refer them to the appropriate organization," said Alicia Winchel, Anti-Trafficking Caseworker with the IRC in Arizona.
However, the IRC and our partners alone cannot tackle this crime and we call on our community to learn about the signs of trafficking, how to report trafficking and resources available for survivors. Talk about human trafficking with your families and friends, be aware, and call the National Hotline if you see a situation that could be trafficking. Get to know your neighbors, make friends, and develop networks that bridge cultural, language and experience differences. It’s through these connections, discussions, and vigilance that we can end human trafficking in Arizona and across the world.