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The Effect of COVID-19 on Human Trafficking

Many of you have asked what effect COVID-19 and the response is having on the trafficking landscape. The reality is we don’t – and can’t – know for certain, but we are deeply concerned. Specifically, we are worried that the economic effects of this virus will increase some of the vulnerabilities that make people susceptible to sex and labor trafficking in the first place – economic need, unstable living conditions, and substance use issues among others. 

We are also extremely worried about the impact this situation will have on immigrant communities, particularly for people who are undocumented. Immigration status has always been used by traffickers as a weapon to keep people under their control. In a climate of fear, these same people are even less likely than before to come forward and seek help. We will keep you posted as we learn more. 

In the meantime, if you are looking for ways to help in your communities, consider ways you can advocate to stay evictions, keep utilities on and help school districts to ensure children are fed during this time of crisis. We know from the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline that homelessness is a key vulnerability for trafficking. We know too many children get at least one and often two meals a day at schools, many of which are now shuttered. We know too many families are a day’s wages away from having the lights turned off. Every voice matters. Use yours. And thank you. 

Also, please know that the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline remains fully operational, all day – and all night. 

We will continue to share what we learn when we know more. In the days ahead we hope to post information about federal and local policy responses so survivors have a trusted, one-stop shop to turn to for information. Let us know if you have resources for the survivor community that we don’t know about and we’ll work on sharing those. Stay healthy. Stay strong. 

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Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.

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