Kojo Nnamdi Show: What Does Human Trafficking Look Like In Our Region?
In an episode of the Kojo Nnamdi Show released ahead of Human Trafficking Awareness Day (January 11), Ambassador Susan Esserman, founder and director of the University of Maryland's SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors discussed the signs of labor and sex trafficking. Esserman also shared information about a unique type of labor trafficking perpetrated by diplomats in the Washington D.C. area and what the UMD SAFE Center is doing to help survivors.
"Labor trafficking is prevalent, but it is under-investigated and underreported, "Esserman explained. "People are generally now aware of sex trafficking. But they're not aware of labor trafficking."
Possible signs of labor trafficking include people not having control over their documents or money, having to work long hours, or being subject to physical or emotional abuse. People who live in the same residence as their employers or are unsure about their address may also be at risk, Esserman explained.
She urged people who see something to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or to text BeFree or 233733.
Esserman shared her first experiences working on pro-bono legal cases involving sex trafficking victims. Realizing the severity of the cases and that survivors often faced fractured services, She came to the University of Maryland to develop a comprehensive services center.
"We are so privileged to be at the University of Maryland where we draw upon the clinical and intellectual expertise of the many schools from the schools of law and social work and nursing, public health and dental school in designing our services so that they're truly comprehensive," Esserman told the Kojo Nnamdi Show.
"And the idea of it, the mission is to help the survivor to emerge from the trauma of trafficking and be independent. "
Since opening three years ago, the UMD Safe Center has "served 150 victims of sex and labor trafficking survivors in our region and their families," said Esserman.
In 2020, the Center plans on helping motivate law enforcement and others to work together to investigate labor trafficking. The Center will hold the Maryland Labor Trafficking Symposium later this month with a keynote address from Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.