Did you know… your everyday activities may have involved human trafficking? Listed below are 7 places you might not expect to find it.
As residents and vacationers, we need to be educated so as to not inadvertently support it.
Maybe you scheduled a ‘self-care’ day to relax to the max! You took a trip to the spa, immediately booked a full-body massage, then stopped by the nail salon. You finished off the day with your favorite fast-food and an ice-cream treat on the way back. Sounds like the perfect day, doesn’t it? Or, perhaps you and your friends finally found the time to get together after months of busy schedules made it impossible to meet up. You planned a full day of fun activities to do together. First you decided to go to the swimming pool to work on that Summer tan. Later on, you went to the local carnival to enjoy a few rides and eat as much cotton candy as possible. To finish the day off, you all grabbed a bite to eat and saw a musical at the local theatre. You had the absolute BEST day with all your friends and can’t wait to do it again!
But, what if you knew that all those places you visited could have employees that are really people being exploited? You noticed the way the girl who did your nails froze for a second and stopped being chatty when the manager came in, but you assumed she was just afraid she was taking too long and wanted to properly focus on your nails. You noticed how the boy that sold tickets for rides at the carnival kept falling asleep behind the desk, but you couldn’t blame him for not enjoying a job you personally thought was a little mundane.
Exploitation is often happening in unexpected places. There are victims of human trafficking everywhere, and you have probably come across some this Summer. So, what are the unexpected places where victims have been found? Let’s name a few.
Cases of trafficking have been found in various recreational facilities. From amusement parks to golf courses and community swimming pools. Some cases have even occurred at children’s Summer camps. Victims have held various jobs at these locations, such as camp counselors, lifeguards, and ride attendants, while representing diverse nationalities.
Similar to amusement parks, carnivals are known to be a perfect place for traffickers to exploit their victims. Some examples of the tasks that victims have been given when exploited at carnivals include building up and breaking down the rides and stands, operating the rides, and selling food or tickets. Cases that were reported often involved men and women from Mexico or South Africa.
Arts & Entertainment
Another sector in which trafficking frequently occurs is the arts & entertainment industry. Exploitation through modeling and athletics is fairly well known. However, cases of trafficking also occur among actors, choirs, and dance troupes. Models that are being exploited are mainly young women, whereas boys and young men are often exploited within athletics.
Those responsible for maintaining public grounds and gardens are the most at-risk within this sector, but private spheres are affected as well. This version of exploitation is the most common type experienced by those with an H-2B visa, usually men from Mexico.
Hotels & Hospitality
Trafficking occurs everywhere in the hospitality sector: hotels, resorts, casinos, etc. Most victims are exploited in jobs relating to housekeeping, but other positions such as desk attendants and bell staff have been reported to be trafficked. Although victims have represented many different nationalities, the most commonly seen in this sector have been from Jamaica, the Philippines, and India.
Restaurants & Food Service
As another branch of the hospitality industry, there are very few food services without prior reports of trafficking. Cases have occurred in restaurants, bars, clubs, buffets, taquerias, and food and ice cream trucks. Often, many employees held legitimate jobs at the establishment, while others were secretly exploited. Language barriers make it even easier for traffickers to avoid detection.
Health & Beauty Services
A large percentage of labor trafficking victims have been exploited in places such as nail salons, hair salons, and health spas. Most originate from Asia, specifically Vietnam and China. Trafficking still occurs in these places where victims constantly interact with fellow victims. Especially in this type of exploitation, there is a relationship between the victim and the trafficker, whereby the trafficker is simultaneously the employer, and likely holding the employees’ travel documents and identification.
Unfortunately, trafficking occurs in quite unexpected places. It is even harder to detect cases, if you are not expecting to encounter them. Next time you go out for a fun activity, you might interact directly with a victim.
So remember... if you see something, say something. You can always call your local law enforcement to report something suspicious. If you’re in the United States, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline 24/7 by calling 1-888-373-7888 or texting “BeFree” (233733).
Do any of these places surprise you? Comment below!
We would love to hear from a fellow Changemaker.