Friday News Roundup: Anti-Human Trafficking Advocates Share Their Wisdom
Every Friday, Polaris highlights noteworthy human trafficking stories in the media for our readers to check out, share, and respond to. Tell us your thoughts on these stories in the discussion below!
Flight Attendants Fight Human Trafficking With Eyes in the Sky
New York Times 2/7/17
Donna Hubbard, a flight attendant who lives outside Atlanta, has no problem speaking forcefully about the issue of human trafficking in the United States. But her voice begins to falter when she talks about her own life — how years of exploitation shattered her confidence and turned her life upside down. “I could not talk about that part of me where I was victimized.” But having realized that airline employees are perfectly positioned to stop human traffickers and their victims in transit, Ms. Hubbard has found her mission: teaching other flight attendants to spot and report cases of human trafficking.
Children forced into prostitution by their parents to fund drug addiction and the exploitation of boys are types of child sex trafficking which are rarely recognised in the United States, said a state judge. Judge John Romero Jr., a U.S. judge and leading child trafficking expert, said there is a major misconception among Americans that boys and girls sold into prostitution are brought in from poorer countries. But all too often it is U.S.-born children who are trafficked and sold online, and identifying these victims is key to combating the widespread crime. "We've been in the mindset that this only happens to foreign kids, that it's not the girl next door, it couldn't possibly be my niece or my granddaughter," Romero told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview. Children who have run away from home or are homeless, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex youth are most vulnerable, said Romero.
Teen Vogue 2/6/17
A flight attendant helped save a teenage girl from sex trafficking when she saw her looking uncomfortable aboard a flight, reports NBC News. The attendant, Shelia Fedrick, spotted the girl, who she says looked about 14 or 15, aboard an Alaska Airline flight from Seattle to San Francisco in 2011. “Something in the back of my head said, 'Something is not right,'” Fedrick told 10 News, a CBS affiliate out of Tampa, Florida. The girl had “greasy blonde hair” and was sitting next to a well-dressed older man. According to NBC News, the man became defensive when Fedrick tried to talk to them. In an attempt to find out what was wrong, Fedrick left a note in the plane’s bathroom. The girl wrote back, “I need help.” Fedrick then alerted the pilot and told him the story. When the plane landed, police were waiting at the terminal.
NBC News 2/4/17
The National Human Trafficking Hotline found that 7,500 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2016 — up from 5,526 in the previous year, based on the group's data. The hotline, which is run by the nonprofit organization Polaris, maintains a resource center for victims of trafficking and aggregates statistics based on incoming reports and phone calls. It also reported that California and Texas are again among the most egregious states for human trafficking. California bore the lion's share with over 1,300 incidences of human trafficking last year, almost double any other state, the nonprofit reported.