The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are currently 25 million victims of human trafficking around the world. It is believed that 22% of these “modern-day slaves” are victims of sex trafficking, and the remainder are forced into mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and other hard labor industries, according to Human Rights First. 55% of victims are female, and 26% are children. Traffickers earn a profit of about $150 billion each year, $99 billion of which is a result of commercial sexual exploitation.
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Landlords and property managers may be surprised by how much they can do to help vulnerable women and children, and assist law enforcement. For example, one Oregon landlord's suspicions were aroused when he noticed the delivery of an unusual number of mattresses to a house that he was renting out—and a later installed stripper pole. After keeping an eye on the property for a time, he was ultimately able to evict the tenants.
Be on the lookout for the following signs. These indications may seem odd but innocent upon first glance, but in combination, they may be a sign of human trafficking:
A dwelling has too many people living in it
The property garners an unusual amount of traffic
The tenant installs interior locks on doors and windows—to keep people in, not to keep people out
A tenant or applicant does not have access to her own personal documents
An adult tenant does not appear to be allowed to drive herself or travel alone anywhere
A tenant or resident always seems to need someone else to speak for her, though the two don't seem to know one another well
Individuals appear fearful or show signs of abuse or malnourishment
A group of people is picked up, taken somewhere else, then brought back at around the same time every day
A tenant is unusually anxious after mentioning law enforcement
A tenant avoids eye contact
A tenant or guest lacks knowledge of her whereabouts—even about what city she's in. This is because human trafficking victims rarely leave their residences, except to be transported to a new location.
Conversations always seem to be scripted or rehearsed.
Photo credit: PEO ACWA
Law enforcement officials do not recommend attempting to rescue a human trafficking victim by yourself. Traffickers can be violent and dangerous, and they may well retaliate against the victim you're trying to help.
If you suspect human trafficking on your property or a property that you manage—or anywhere else, for that matter—contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline. They'll work with law enforcement to investigate the situation and ask the questions that you can't. Additionally, law enforcement can prosecute offenders simply for lying to them—something that you can't do when you're questioning a tenant about human trafficking or other illegal activities. You can learn more about residential brothels and other sexual trafficking scenarios on the National Human Trafficking Hotline's website.
To report suspected human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888, or text "HELP" or "INFO" to 233733.
Freedom Place is a real estate project leveraging the diverse talents of its executive team to generate significant capital to fight global human trafficking.
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