In the trucking industry, there is one constant threat to public safety—human trafficking. Human slavery and forced labor is nothing new to the world. Yet the ways that human traffickers solicit victims and force them into horrible conditions are constantly evolving. An increase in technologies like the internet and smartphones allows traffickers to avoid detection while transporting and profiting off of victims. As a trucker, you are likely to come across modern slaves either while traveling or during deliveries at shipping customers. One trucking company, FedEx, is training its LTL truck drivers to know what to do if they do see someone who is a potential trafficking victim.
Understanding Human Trafficking
What is human trafficking? It is the selling of humans either for labor or sexual purposes. The reason it is such a major concern in the trucking industry is that truckers over the road are often traveling along the same routes as human traffickers. Just like freight hauling, these traffickers are transporting victims from one big city to the next. And it’s not just something going on here in the US.
According to the International Labour Organization:
- Human trafficking aka modern slavery had more than 40.3 million victims in 2016.
- That is a substantial increase from 20 million in 2012.
- Forty percent are exploited for work, either in construction, agriculture, or domestic labor.
- About 8 percent of these people are in forced sexual exploitation.
- Women and girls make up 99 percent of the victims of sexual exploitation.
- One in four victims of human trafficking and modern slavery are children.
As a truck driver, you can help to fight human trafficking. One nonprofit organization, the Truckers Against Trafficking provides tools and information. According to Truckers Against Trafficking Executive Director Kendis Paris, “The American trucking industry has proven time and again that they are working alongside law enforcement to disrupt trafficking networks and aid in the recovery of victims. The partnership between TAT and FedEx will significantly increase the trained ‘eyes and ears’ along our nation’s roadways, and we are thrilled to be working with such an industry leader.”
Truckers Against Trafficking Programs
Thanks to the support of FedEx, Truckers Against Trafficking is setting up an educational training program for LTL truck drivers at the company. The circumstances in which LTL truckers see and encounter human trafficking vary from that of OTR truck drivers. For LTL truck drivers at FedEx, these drivers are more likely to notice forced labor as they provide regional freight hauling for major cities. As for OTR trucking jobs, these place truck drivers at truck stops and rest areas where sexual exploitation may be noticed, such as with the case of lot lizards.
As a platinum-level sponsor of Truckers Against Trafficking, FedEx will be equipping its LTL fleet with tools to help combat human trafficking at a timely moment. January was National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Mike Ducker FedEx Freight President and CEO, said, “As a company with team members out on our nation’s highways every day, FedEx is proud to support Truckers Against Trafficking in its quest to call attention to, and fight, this serious crime that is impacting lives across the US. By educating our team members on what to watch for and empowering them to take a stand, we are committed to making a difference on this issue and look forward to working with Truckers Against Trafficking.”
How to Deal with Trafficking as a Trucker
How do you know if you are seeing someone who is a victim of human trafficking? According to the US Department of State, warning signs that someone is a victim include:
- They are a prostitute who looks younger than 18
- The person shows signs of physical abuse
- They answer you in a scripted or rehearsed manner
- They can’t speak to you by themselves/without a boyfriend, pimp, or partner
- The person is afraid or submissive
If you think that the person is a victim, you should ask the following:
- Have you been threatened?
- Are you hurt?
- Are you allowed to leave if you want?
- Has someone threatened your family?
- Do you owe your partner/employer money?
- Are you living with your employer?
If they say yes to these questions and show warning signs as indicated above, this is a sign that you are dealing with a victim of human trafficking.
What can you do as a truck driver if you encounter human trafficking while on your job? In the case of a potential human trafficking incident, call 1-888-3737-888. The helpline has support in more than 200 languages. This number is used by Truckers Against Trafficking and directs you to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Call anytime 24/7 to speak with a trained anti-trafficking advocate. Your report is confidential and you are anonymous.
Source: FedEx – Newsroom