Not in my backyard

  • Published
  • By Jersouk Myers
  • Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, has been called "modern day slavery" by President Barack Obama, who added, "It is barbaric and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world."

Human trafficking is a crime under federal and international law. Additionally, a Department of Defense policy, DOD Instruction 2200.01, opposes prostitution, forced labor, and any related activities that may add to the existence of trafficking in persons as inherently harmful and dehumanizing. TIP is a violation of U.S. law and goes against Defense Department core values.

Victims of modern day slavery and human trafficking have many faces. They are men or women, adults or children, foreign nationals or United States citizens. Some are well-educated, while others have no formal education. Whereas any person can become a victim of trafficking, certain people are particularly vulnerable - from undocumented migrants; runaway and homeless youth; and troubled, ostracized, and/or disadvantaged groups and individuals. Traffickers target these groups because they are susceptible to recruitment tactics and methods of control.

Throughout this month's observance, there must be dialogue that this modern day civil rights violation takes place and we must stand together to stop human traffickers who practice this terrible trade.

Trafficking victims are trapped and forced into sexual or labor exploitation. These victims cannot walk away and are vulnerable due to force, fears and threats. They suffer from painful mental, physical and sexual abuse. These feelings result in finding it hard to conceive any other life.

The State Department's 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report says that approximately 46,000 victims of trafficking were brought to light worldwide last year versus the estimated 27 million people that are enslaved. The State Department gathers information for the report from U.S. embassies, government officials, nongovernmental and international organizations, published reports, e-mailed tips and research trips to every region. According to the report, it is also estimated that nearly 18,000 people are trafficked to the U.S. each year.

Many victims are obligated to smugglers and traffickers. According to the Polaris Project, a national anti-human trafficking group, victims have also been forced to work in factories, farms, massage parlors, residential brothels, truck stops, private parties, escort service, strip clubs, begging, peddling rings and exploited on the internet for little or no money.
According to a National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Data Breakdown, Massachusetts Report, which represents the first six months of 2013, there were 14,898 nationwide calls to report human trafficking; of those calls, 178 were from Mass., such as in Lowell, Worcester and Boston.

According to a NHTRC 2012 report, of the 284 calls received in Mass., 64 were referenced to high-potential of human trafficking. The numbers are pulled from reports and do not account for the not reported cases.

A law signed by Mass. Governor Deval Patrick in November 2011, consists of a comprehensive bill that established the state crimes of human trafficking for sexual servitude and human trafficking for forced labor. The law has been an effective instrument in the attorney general's effort to end the exploitation of people by holding perpetrators accountable, supporting survivors by not oppressing them and raising awareness of this important issue. Prior to the passage of this law, Mass. had been only one of three states in the nation without any specific law to combat human trafficking. The law went into effect on Feb. 19, 2012.

The Hanscom AFB Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office urges you to know that "modern day slavery" and human trafficking exist.

By dedicating January to Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness, it brings the topic to light and may help victims reclaim their lives. It increases awareness of this problem so that human trafficking victims, friends, family, community members, advocates, law enforcement, business leaders and more know where to get help, report a tip or request information or training.

When a victim calls or texts the Polaris Project hotline at 1-888-373-7888, they can be connected to help -- 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, every day of the year.

For further information on combatting human trafficking, visit Additional information can also be found at