JACKSON, MISS.—The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has joined various agencies across the state and country to recognize January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Human trafficking continues to be among the fastest-growing crimes nationwide. Many government agencies are stepping forward to enhance awareness of issues and implementing methods to combat this increasing problem.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers profit from the control and exploitation of others. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will. Human trafficking affects individuals across the world, including the U.S., and is commonly regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues today.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) reported 86 cases of some form of human trafficking in Mississippi in 2018 and an alarming 10,949 cases of human trafficking in the United States. Many victims of this crime are not in one place long enough to form social connections and are often transported throughout the country in commercial motor vehicles.
“MDOT’s Office of Enforcement plays a critical role in combating this crime and uncovering these victims,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT Executive Director. “All MDOT Enforcement officers are trained on how to identify and police human trafficking on state highways and at weigh stations.”
Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking. The public can report information about a potential trafficking situation by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888.
Knowing the indicators of human trafficking can help the public identify a potential human trafficking situation. These include:
- Living with employer
- Multiple people in crammed living spaces
- Inability to speak to an individual alone
- Employer holding identity documents
- Signs of physical abuse
- Submissive or fearful
- Poor living conditions
Anonymous tips can also be submitted online at www.humantraffickinghotline.org or by emailing email@example.com. Participate in the discussion on social media by using the hashtag #endtrafficking.