March 30th, 2011
05:06 PM ET

How to possibly identify a human trafficking victim

Do you think you might know or have spotted a victim of human trafficking?

According the U.S. Department of State, the following are all possible indicators that someone might be a victim:

• Living with employer
• Poor living conditions
• Multiple people in cramped space
• Inability to speak to individual alone
• Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
• Employer is holding identity documents
• Signs of physical abuse
• Submissive or fearful
• Unpaid or paid very little
• Under 18 and in prostitution

If you are able to communicate with the suspected victim without jeopardizing their safety, the U.S. Department of State recommends you ask these questions:

• Can you leave your job if you want to?
• Can you come and go as you please?
• Have you been hurt or threatened if you tried to leave?
• Has your family been threatened?
• Do you live with your employer?
• Where do you sleep and eat?
• Are you in debt to your employer?
• Do you have your passport/identification? Who has it?

If you believe the individual is a victim you must alert the proper officials. Contact your local police station or country’s human trafficking hotline. Check out a country-by-country list of human trafficking hotlines.

An excellent contact no matter where you are in the world is the International Office of Migration, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Related: How to help
Global organizations
Country-by-country list
Learn signs of trafficking victims | List of hotlines
Explore our parents and educators guide
– e-mail The CNN Freedom Project:
More ways to help

Topics: How to Help

soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. peg

    I donate to a Christian organization that rescues girls in USA and helps them start a new life

    April 16, 2011 at 6:41 am | Reply
    • Brown Pinay

      Thank you peg, I am working in the Philippines, it is good to know that private individuals do something, in their own way, to help.

      March 27, 2012 at 1:23 am | Reply
  2. dan

    Problem with this, there families may be put at risk back home. Seems to me the best way to tackle this issue is to punish the johns that use slaves, but in order to keep this from going even further underground, you must allow controlled and legal prostitution for those that need and will always seek this type of service.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  3. Ret

    This should not still be existing anywhere in the world let alone in the USA! We need to stop this horror from existing in the present day America and is yet another reason to secure American borders and enforce our immigration policies. Illegal aliens are desperate people who are seeking a better life, and who can be targeted, duped and enslaved by unscrupulous people lacking compassion or even empathy for other human lives. It is a modern day tragedy, and I am glad CNN and other groups are turning a spotlight on this crime against humanity, and have supplied links to enable people to join the fight to end slavery.

    May 20, 2011 at 3:21 am | Reply
  4. Concerned citizen

    what we can do if the cartel people is behind the sex trafficking business? In USA even lawyers are scared to death when they are dealing with these people, because you never know when will be your last day in earth.

    June 11, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  5. Susie

    THIS ARTICLE ON HOW TO RECOGNIZE A POSSIBLE SLAVE AND WHOM TO CALL IS TOO HARD TO FIND!!! I looked for it because I was familiar with such ways to recognize a possible slave and what sorts of questions to ask (eg. what's the last movie that you saw?). But I doubt that most people seeing the CNN cover story would know to go looking for this. This is a critically important element of slavery awareness... otherwise people will just look at the daunting statistics and think that all they can do about it is wear a t-shirt or donate some money. People can do more than that... people can be on the look out, and just like in the case of child abuse or domestic violence, report it. CNN – PLEASE MAKE THIS ARTICLE MUCH MORE PROMINENT ON YOUR WEBSITE!!!

    June 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  6. Susie

    I also happened to notice that the questions that this article suggests asking are not very subtle. Since a victim of human traffic is constantly being watched, you need to ask questions designed to obtain this information in much subtler ways. Many victims don't even know what city they're in... so a clever question to ask an adult might be, "What neighborhood do you live in?" Basically, ask "normal" convserational questions (albeit ones that kind-of fish for information), and look for "abnormal" answers – or watch for the person to look to someone else on how to answer. You don't want whoever's watching to start to get suspicious.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Reply
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  7. Susie

    Oh... in response to some of the above comments, the sex trade isn't the only business that uses slaves. The person bussing your table or painting your nails might also be a slave. In fact, slaves are used in a wide variety of industries. Most people have no idea.

    June 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Reply
  8. Karen

    The most blatant trafficking is going on in every Asian nail salon in this country. American women flock in becaue the prices are low but it is clear from the behavior of the women and the men who hover in the background, that these nail techs are being watched constantly. It's impossible to have a conversation with them because they don't speak English. I don't know if these salons are big on in the central or eastern parts of the US, but on the coast and throughout the West they're on every street corner. They also don't practice good hygienic techniques, and many customers end up with nail fungus, injury, etc. The Arizona Daily Star did an investigative piece on these salons several years ago, but did not address the human trafficking aspect. Please look into this and close these people down. The women who work there seem completely demoralized.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:01 am | Reply
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    Please don't skip the Middle East and the Maids ordeal, it is rampant in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.....

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