Human Trafficking Awareness in Illinois
Last Thursday, May 15, 2014, the Edgewater Library Community Room featured a presentation about Human Trafficking Awareness by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in cooperation with 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, Illinois Senator Heather Steans (7th District), State Representative Kelly M. Cassidy (14th District), U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (9th District) and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken up more efforts to intercept human trafficking operations in the state of Illinois, nationwide, and around the world to set free victims of human trafficking who are enslaved as senior citizens, mental health patients, women, youth, children, disabled people, in the LGBT group, as well as laborers in agriculture and domestic service, nannies or maids, food service employees, tourist or hospitality workers, janitors, migrant farmers, fishery workers, or as beggars. Victims of Human Trafficking may also be immigrants, aliens or non-immigrants in the United States of America.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's efforts are focusing on human trafficking awareness to combat and deter the exploitation of individuals who work in labor industries targeted by human traffickers and who are often forced into slave labor or sexual exploitation and prostitution.
According to the FBI profile, You May Be A Victim of Human Trafficking if:
- You are not being paid for your work, or your wages are held by a boss or supervisor.
- Your working conditions make you feel unsafe.
- You are not free to come and go as you please.
- You feel threatened or members of your family have been threatened.
- Your personal belongings and Identification Cards and Documents have been taken from you.
- You are subjected to physical violence or emotional abuse at work or at home where you live.
- You have had false Identification cards or documents given to you.
- Your communication with family and friends is restricted or denied by others deliberately.
- You are denied rest and are forced to work while you are sick or while you have become sick.
Human Trafficking is not just forced sexual exploitation or prostitution. Victims of sex trafficking can be senior citizens, disabled women or men, LGBT people, teenagers, boys or girls.
Victims of Human Trafficking fall for a variety of scenarios and common patterns of behavior for luring humans into situations of sex trafficking which include:
- The promise of a good job
- A false marriage proposal
- Being sold into the sex trade by parents or family members
- Being kidnapped by traffickers
Common abuse methods and torture used by sex traffickers are confinement, starvation, physical abuse and injury by beatings, rape, gang rape, threats of violence to the victims and the victim’s families, induced drug use and blackmail with the threat of shaming their victims by revealing their activities to their family and friends, sedition and persecution, harassment, heinous hate crimes, domestic violence, etc.
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) is a federal statute passed into law in 2000 by the U.S. Congress. It offers protections for persons in the country illegally who may be victims of human trafficking.
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act had been subsequently renewed in 2003, 2006, 2008 and most recently in 2013 as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act. There are two stipulations an applicant has to meet in order to receive the benefits of the T-Visa. First, a trafficked victim must prove/admit to being trafficked and second must submit to prosecution of his or her trafficker.
A problem arises from the second portion of requirements of an applicant. Many trafficked persons are extremely fearful of retaliation upon the self or the family and thus serves as a major deterrent to individuals even considering application.
The TVPA allowed for the establishment of the Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which coordinates with foreign governments to protect trafficking victims, prevent trafficking, and prosecute traffickers.
If you have been a Victim of Human Traffic and Sex Exploitation or you may have information about a potential trafficking situation, please contact the FBI Chicago Field Offfice at 312-421-6700.