Human trafficking is a phrase that has been in the headlines recently. With an estimated 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally and an increase in victims each year, it is a topic that cannot be ignored. The DADS MATTER Program, a program of the Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette, Inc., recently participated in the 2019 Red Sand Project presented by the Blackburn Center.
Human trafficking is defined as the exploitation of a person for sex or labor. The signs include:
- Prostitution that is facilitated by a pimp, madam, or partner
- Restriction of an individual’s ability to speak with others alone
- Submissive or fearful attitude
- Answers appear rehearsed
- Employer withholding identity documents
- Wages taken to pay off “debts” to employer
- Under 18 and being prostituted
The Blackburn Center is committed to bringing attention to the issue of human trafficking as well as providing services to victims and survivors of this crime. Human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar industry that enslaves millions of people each year. Of these millions of victims, 81% are trapped in forced labor, in industries such as commercial sex, hotels, restaurants, domestic work, nail salons, agriculture, and construction, 25% of them are children and 75% are women and girls.
Although anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, children are particularly vulnerable. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2017, an estimated 1 out of 7 endangered runaways were likely child sex trafficking victims. Of those children, 88% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran away.
Created by artist Molly Gochman, the Red Sand Project is an art installation designed to raise awareness about human trafficking. Volunteers across the world place grains of red sand in the cracks of sidewalks. Each grain of sand represents one of the millions of victims of human trafficking who has slipped through the “cracks” of our society.
Brett Baumgartel and Daniel Bell, DADS MATTER Case Manager/Job Developer and Database Specialist respectively joined the Blackburn Center and members of the Human Trafficking Task Force to show support for the 2019 Red Sand Project by placing red sand at the Frick Hospital sidewalk location in September.
Too often, victims of human trafficking are overlooked by the justice system, service providers and the community at large. The Red Sand Project is a visible way to show Westmoreland County that human trafficking will not be ignored—and that Blackburn Center is there to provide support to victims and survivors. The 24/7 hotline contact information for Blackburn Center is (724) 836-1122 or toll-free 1-888-832-2272. The 24/7 hotline contact information for the National Human Trafficking Center is 1-888-373-7888.