The Trade: Abolishing Slavery in 2014

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As I’m writing this article, Abolition International has helped to educate and train 2,121 healthcare professionals in recognizing victims of human trafficking.

It doesn’t sound like a large number, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

According to their website, less than 3% of the medical community is trained to know when they’re looking at a victim of trafficking. I don’t know if the percentage is really that low, but research does indicate it’s a pretty dismal number.

At the same time, about half of people who are trafficked encounter healthcare workers while they are being trafficked. Because of the aforementioned lack of understanding about the issue, the signs are often mistaken for domestic abuse.

Part of what Abolition International does is educate people who are likely to come into contact with trafficking victims about recognizing the signs. But they also aim to empower people, because there’s nothing more frustrating than being aware of someone in need of help and having no tools to help them.

One of the tools they provide is a smartphone app:

“This innovative new tool was developed in partnership with anti-trafficking law enforcement agencies and healthcare providers as a first step toward educating and empowering individuals and professionals to recognize and make real-time reports regarding suspicious behavior. Arming and educating millions of Americans with key sex trafficking indicators and providing the opportunity to immediately pass on information to local and Federal anti-trafficking task forces can be an invaluable tool. . .”

This app has specialized tools for professionals, but it can be used by the general public, too. The app is one of their more recent tools for combating trafficking. But Abolition International provides a lot of options for people to get involved—more options than many organizations I’ve researched so far.

Of course, they provide opportunities for donation. But they also have a mailing list that empowers everyday people to raise awareness about the issue, and even to host events like fundraisers and story nights at churches, schools or even coffee shops. You can even host a freedom barbecue with their ready-made kit. They make it possible for people to set up Freedom Booths at events, and to sell bracelets in order to raise awareness and money at once. They partner with churches, discussing trafficking as a kind of spiritual warfare. They provide internship opportunities for young people, and raise money through an online store that sells items like stickers, tote bags and bracelets handmade by survivors of trafficking.

Kudos to Abolition International for getting innovative and providing so many ways for people to get involved. This is more than praying, writing letters, and passing out fliers. It seems as though they’ve really taken into account that people have different community resources, and will be able to help in different ways.

I think what most impresses me about Abolition International is that they’re working to establish a standard of restorative care for survivors. Shelters around the world are signing up to be a part of the Abolition International Shelter Association (AISA). AISA is helping people and organizations understand what’s involved in starting and operating trafficking shelters, and also providing members with resources for mentorship, education, networking, aftercare for survivors, and accountability.

Why is this my favorite part of Abolition International’s work? Because so many victims of trafficking have trouble getting the aftercare they need. Sometimes trafficking victims are arrested for prostitution, and are sent to detention centers because judges just don’t know what else to do with them. In some cases, a big reason they wind up back on the street, or in the hands of their traffickers, is because they can find so few resources or safe places to go. AISA is actually looking at what survivors need, and creating systems to get them that help.

Healthcare Providers’ Training Needs Related to Human Trafficking: Maximizing the Opportunity to Effectively Screen and Intervene

Human Trafficking: The Role of the Healthcare Provider


L. Marrick is a fiction writer and freelance copywriter. 50% of proceeds from her book Working Girl, a memoir of her time working for a professional escort, go to sex trafficking non-profits. She waxes poetic about swords and the Renaissance Faire at her author blog. She looks all professional-like at her copywriting site. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @LMarrick.

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