Human traffickers reap an estimated $150 billion in net profits annually, making the industry more profitable than Amazon -- and traffickers are targeting meetings and conventions in particular to make their money, according to Jennifer Keltner, principle owner of Rescue.Party.Give. Through her new organization, Keltner, a former corporate meetings manager, hosts and trains others in hosting events that raise awareness and money to aid victims of human trafficking and support organizations that are actively fighting the scourge.
Keltner presented together with Kristina Sachs, justice advocate with the International Justice Mission, for a panel discussion at Northstar Meetings Group's Destination California event. A follow-up to the human-trafficking education presented at Northstar's SMU International meeting last week, Keltner and Sachs focused on building awareness and providing planners with the tools that will allow them to help stop trafficking.
What can planners do? Sachs provided the following tips, courtesy of the Orange County (Calif.) Human Trafficking Task Force, that anyone can use:
1. Become educated. Understanding human trafficking is the first step in addressing the issue.
2. Know your neighbors. Connecting with neighbors allows you to be on the alert. Remember that trafficking can happen in your neighborhood, victims can be your neighbors and traffickers can be someone you know. As professionals who frequently travel, your neighbors are sometimes your fellow travelers.
3. Be aware of the law. Employing or assisting human-trafficking operations is against the law. Know your rights and let victims know their rights.
• Foreign victims might be particularly fearful to speak out because of their immigration status. Let them know that they can receive protection and assistance through the Trafficking Victim Protection Act.
• Domestic victims of sex trafficking might be fearful due to prior prostitution arrests. Let them know that there are people who will help them and task forces that can assist.
4. Know how to act. Taking action if you suspect suspicious activity saves lives. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888. The hotline is free, anonymous and available 24/7. You can also report suspicious activities on the OCHTTF website. For emergencies, call 911.
5. Pass it on. Sharing what you learn will help spread awareness and a community mindset. Educate someone else by puting together an educational or awareness event.
6. Serve your community. Volunteering is a great way to make a difference. Find local organizations and task forces, support them financially and attend meetings if possible.
7. Be a voice. Lending your voice and sharing your ideas helps advocate for change. Write to your legislators.
8. Take a stand. Curb the demand of products and services that promote and enable human trafficking. Buy fair-trade, ethical products produced with fair-labor standards. Write to businesses about what they’re doing to monitor and take action within their supply chains.
9. Listen and learn. Most victims of human trafficking didn’t believe it could happen to them. Survivor empowerment starts with listening, not judging.
10. Support each other. Building teamwork starts with trust and respect.