If you heard motors rumbling on Saturday morning, it was likely from an effort to raise awareness about human trafficking, according to Daily News-Record reports.
A 75-mile, police escorted ride aimed to highlight the seriousness and prevalence of human trafficking in the Commonwealth. In 2018, Virginia ranked ninth in the United States for the number of active criminal human trafficking cases heading to federal courts, according to the Human Trafficking Institute.
This form of modern slavery can be for labor or sex purposes and can be happening right in front of our eyes. Awareness is key and looking out for victims is something we can all do. According to the Polaris Project, some signs of trafficking include:
— Unusual/poor living conditions — like not being able to come and go freely, underpayment, owing a large amount of debt and unusually high security measures surrounding work and home.
— Poor mental health or abnormal behavior — including being fearful, depressed, or submissive and having an unusual fear of law enforcement.
— Poor physical health — including malnourishment and signs of physical abuse.
— Lack of control — including not controlling money and identification, lack of knowledge regarding residence, and the inability to speak for himself/herself.
In Virginia, the most common venues for sex trafficking are illicit massage establishments, hotel or motel-based and residence-based commercial sex and escort services, according to data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Sometimes the people in this venues are portrayed as criminals for being involved in sex work or other businesses if they are being trafficked for labor purposes, but if someone is being trafficked then they are a victim and need help. We can’t always know what’s going on behind the scenes, but knowing what to look for and how to help could save someone.
If you have information about a trafficking situation or to report a tip, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.