By Manvi Pant
“How much does a human life in slavery cost? In the crudest terms, globally, the average cost of a slave is $90 (£57)”. A multi-billion dollar Human Trafficking industry runs in absolute darkness and denies hope and freedom to ~20.9 million people all around the world. According to NHTRC (National Human Trafficking Resource Center), it received a total of 24,757 trafficking signals in the United States and U.S. territories (alone) in 2015 and the surprising element is ~40% of the suspected traffickers are women.
To gain more understanding of this subject, I spoke to Jessica Vincent, a former Senior Intelligence Specialist to a Special Mission Unit in support of Tier Force Commanders, Chiefs of Stations, and senior U.S. State Department officials since 2001. She along with her mother Stephanie Ransom co-founded 4P project to counter Human Trafficking in Arizona, US.
Q1: What is the 4P Project?
The 4P stands for counter-human trafficking 4P paradigm: prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership in everyday life. It covers breaking news on sex trafficking, forced labor, legislation, corporate social responsibility, and education. Based out of the southeast region in Arizona, 4P collaborates with law enforcement agencies, intertwining their efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking, domestic violence, drugs and sexual assaults.
Q2: As a founder of 4P project and Director of Intelligence at CHTCS, what is your role and contribution? Are there any risks involved in rescue operations?
My role with 4P Project has been in-transition as we are determining the best solution to help more victims of trauma through self-identification. Recently, I’ve been volunteering at our local victim advocacy center as a victim advocate. In this role, I assist the center with victims of any traumatic event, help them identify resources for help, obtain medical attention, if necessary, and build a road plan for a safer lifestyle. Collaboration is the key to our success.
As Director of Intelligence at CHTCS, I’m currently writing our Quarterly Journal which educates readers on domestic and international topics that may affect business operations from a social compliance point of view. I also assist clients with in-depth supply chain research. With an overlay of proprietary data points, I attempt to help clients make sound social decisions that are duo-fold, improving the integrity of their product by reducing potential human trafficking in their supply chain.
Q3: How difficult is it to deal with victims of Human Trafficking considering stigma and trauma?
Human trafficking victims often experience the same trauma as domestic violence victims. The sense of security, love, attention, legal status, even income, or means for survival inhibits a victim from escaping.
Human trafficking victims must make the personal choice to recover on their own and commit to the long road to recovery. It can be very difficult without a safe environment, a questionable support network, little to no means for income, and possibly having dependent children. Blaming the victim is still commonplace and the stigma can hurt job placement or social status. A victim often experiences trigger scenarios that exacerbate traumas. Simply seeing a couple argue at the grocery store or watching a child holding hands with an adult may be a trigger that places the victim in a swell of emotions and without proper counseling or training, they may relapse and find themselves finding a way to escape the situation with drugs, alcohol, self-deprecating behavior or reckless behavior. Many victims blame themselves for their predicament and fail to see themselves as victims, making counseling and recovery difficult.
Q4: How difficult is it for survivors of Human Trafficking to have a normal life?
Considering normalcy is solely based on one’s own interpretation of their life experience and surroundings, victims of trauma find survival through degrees of difficulty. Victims of human trafficking must first make the choice to change their position and remove themselves from the abusive situation. This can be difficult and often out of their control, so this is why it’s so important to have more resources such as shelters and an educated community to assist the victim when they are mentally prepared to leave the situation. Once a victim has obtained safe harbor, they must face the arduous experience of healing not only from their victimization of human trafficking but possibly from precursory abuse. The healing process includes comprehensive counseling and essentially a strong support unit. At some point, human trafficking victims develop coping skills and evolve into survivors who can function better in society but some simply don’t. Victim shaming is still a serious problem for human trafficking survivors, and criminal records can persist for a lifetime effecting career choices and limiting income.
Q5: Any advice that you would like to give to people, that may help save more lives?
The best practice to save more lives is through prevention. The entry age of domestic minor sexual trafficking (DMST) in the United States is 14 years old. Empowering communities and children through education will help. Parents need to maintain involvement in their child’s lives, online, at school, after school, etc… Parents and adults are the first line of defense to protect children and it is our responsibility to speak honestly with them about the dangers of human trafficking and child abuse. Unfortunately, abuse can occur at home and it is a community responsibility to recognize that trafficking can occur in their small rural town and to report it to the authorities. Human trafficking awareness has just begun and is in a similar position of awareness as to the issue of domestic abuse 30 years ago. Collectively learning the signs, symptoms and causes of human trafficking will help save lives.