Truckers: Help Fight Sex-Slavery
KNOXVILLE, TN — The state slogan of Tennessee is “America at its best.” But this week, drivers in the great state are encouraged to be on the lookout for examples of America at its worst.
Specifically, sex slaves. People who are engaged in the sex trade against their will. Experts estimate that they number in the hundreds of thousands across North America, and many are forced to work at truck stops and other places where transient traffic is steady.
Monday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam declared Nov. 6 to 12 the first ever Human Trafficking Awareness Week in the state and he’s urging truckers across the country to join the fight.
In lending his voice to the cause, Haslam is partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), a group established in 2009 in an attempt to teach truckers about the consequences of human trafficking, and to enlist drivers’ help in abolishing it when they encounter it at truck stops.
One of the things drivers are encouraged to do if they suspect something is call the National hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
That takes them directly to Washington, D.C.,-based National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) which connects victims of human trafficking with help and resources so they can escape their situations. Both TAT and NHTRC are cornucopias of resources for anyone looking for more information.
Kendis Paris is the National Director of TAT and tells todaystrucking.com that truckers really do want to get involved. Paris also says the problem is definitely not restricted to the U.S.
"We have a story coming out of Canada given to us by a chaplain who works with Transport for Christ. He told us that one night a terrified young girl came screaming into his chapel and hid under his desk. Apparently she had been kidnapped at knife point by two women who forced her to prostitute herself at truck stops to secure drug money for them. The chaplain contacted local law enforcement who came and took her from the lot."
So when should you or your driver pick up the phone? Some of the human trafficking red flags that Truckers Against Trafficking recommends to look for include people at truck stops exhibiting:
• Lack of knowledge of their community or whereabouts;
• Lack of control of own identification documents (ID/passport);
• Restricted or controlled communication – not allowed to speak for self;
• Demeanor: fear, anxiety, depression, submissive, tense, nervous.
Paris said TAT is working on French-language materials for distribution in Quebec and adds that TAT would like to hear from any fleets or individuals willing to help the cause.