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Human trafficking: recognize the signs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Although National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month is observed in January, discussion on this issue shouldn’t end at the beginning of the new year.

Human trafficking awareness is essential for Airmen, DoD employees, civilians and contractors.  Everyone needs to recognize signs of human trafficking and know when and how to report it.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, and a global issue.  Although not as prevalent in the United States, there have been incidents reported recently.

Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by means of threats, force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse or exploitation.

The three most common forms of trafficking are labor trafficking, sex trafficking and child soldiering. Florida is a known human trafficking state.

While most personnel will never run across this during their career, it is important everyone recognize the signs.  They include confiscation of a worker’s identification documents, and forgery of legal documents by an employer or contractor.

Undocumented housekeepers, salon workers, masseuses, and even the pool man could be forced to work for unscrupulous bosses.  Take the time to ask questions and recognize signs that workers may be held against their will.

Airmen, especially females, should be aware of the possibility of becoming victims while traveling to foreign countries.  The key is vigilance and awareness of one’s surroundings.  Don’t take drinks from strangers. One should travel with a wingman or someone to watch their back.

It is a crime to be involved in any type of trafficking.  Anyone who suspects any type human trafficking should notify their chain of command, security forces, the office of special investigations or the inspector general.

The Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Program office here is on call to respond, support and care for victims of human trafficking.  Anyone who knows of someone who needs our services are encouraged to call 882-2122 or accompany them to our office at 605 Inverness Road, Bldg. 605, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.  To report a sexual assault, call the hot line at 882-7272 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or (850) 240-3219.