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What is human trafficking?

One of the most important things to know about human trafficking is that it is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry that negatively impacts communities all over the world. According to the International Labour Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, 40.3 million people on average are currently trapped in a trafficked situation. Human trafficking includes domestic work, construction, agriculture, sexual exploitation and forced marriages. There are 5.4 victims of human trafficking for every 1,000 people in the world. One in four victims of human trafficking is a child. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by forced labor, accounting for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry. Traffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage and other manipulative tactics to trap victims in human trafficking. (Source: http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/lang--en/index.htm)

The School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province have been addressing human trafficking for decades through their ministries, in an effort to transform the world through education, with special emphasis on women, young people and those who are poor. “The thing people don’t realize is that it’s all over,” says Sister Janet Crane. “These people are our neighbors. People are trafficked in our neighborhoods. This isn’t something happening somewhere else. It affects wealthy and poor alike. People from all different walks of life are trafficked.”

Signs of human trafficking include:

  • Not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Under 18, providing commercial sex acts
  • In the commercial sex industry; has a pimp/manager
  • Unpaid, paid very little or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Not allowed breaks or has unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
  • Fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or nervous/paranoid
  • Unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Lacks health care
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture
  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Not in control of his/her own money, no financial records or bank account
  • Not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

(Source: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/human-trafficking/recognizing-signs)

To request help or report suspected human trafficking,
call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Or text HELP to: BeFree (233733).

“Don’t be afraid,” said Sister Janet. “Act out of courage. It may be as simple as learning more about human trafficking or finding an organization you can support by donating money, clothes or time.” In fact, join the School Sisters of Notre Dame’s Women’s Leadership Luncheons, which are being held in St. Louis, Dallas, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Milwaukee this spring. The lunches are focused on human trafficking, including: the causes, who is targeted and what is being done to eradicate it. Attendees will gain an understanding of SSND’s stance on human trafficking and what sisters are doing to remedy the problem. The luncheons are free. Register now for a luncheon near you.

Register Now

Sister Janet says everyone can do something to stop human trafficking, “You don’t have to do it all. Find something, anything, you can do. Nothing is too small or too large.”


Want to learn more?


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320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



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