First Line of Defense: Flight Attendants Work to Stop Human Trafficking
Did you know that there are more slaves today – 27 million – than ever in all 400 years of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade combined?
Every year over 2 million women and children are sold into slavery around the world in what is considered a form of modern day slavery. Human traffickers lure their victims in with promises of a better life and enticing job opportunities only to trap them, girls often as young as 11-years-old, in a horrific cycle of abuse.
Airports are prime location for traffickers to be discovered and victims saved. That’s why Innocents at Risk, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting child exploitation and human trafficking, has created a program for educating flight attendants about the warning signs. The “Flight Attendant Initiative” provides flight attendants with brochures with vital information on human trafficking, including a hotline number that can be called if they suspect any suspicious activity.
American Airlines fight attendant Sandra Fiorini is one of the program’s biggest proponents working with the organization’s founder Deborah Sigmund to mobilize lawmakers on Capitol Hill to protect trafficking victims.
Fiorini also educates flight attendants around the world, providing them with the brochure and bracelets that contain the human trafficking hotline number to report suspected activity. When the number is used law enforcement officials are sent to the airline gates to investigate suspicious travelers.
Flight attendants are in a unique position to notify officials of suspicious activity immediately and save victims before traffickers leave the airport. As Innocents at Risk says, they are the “first line of defense” against human trafficking and a much needed one when you consider the severity of the problem.
Take a look at these astonishing statistics:
- Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, second only to the drug trade
- 130 countries are origin, transit or destination countries for human trafficking
- One victim is trafficked across international borders every minute
- Over 300,000 children are trafficked within the U.S. every year
- Around the world, more than one million children are subjected to human trafficking for sex or porn
- Human trafficking is a $32 billion dollar yearly business – a $100 million business annually in the D.C. Metropolitan area alone
Women, girls, and boys that are trafficked are stripped of their lives, rights, and dignity. It can only take a few seconds to lure away a child but years upon years to rescue victims or prosecute traffickers.
Flight attendants can do their part but so can you.
Learn more about what you can do at Innocents at Risk.
Image from Innocents at Risk website – http://www.innocentsatrisk.org/human-trafficking/the-facts