How you can prevent it happening to you while travelling abroad

We all know the movie version of this serious crime – big screen action films like Taken, with Liam Neeson touch on the dangers of it in true Hollywood fashion. But the reality of the matter is that of the millions of lives affected by human trafficking, there was a global statistic of only 14,894 trafficking prosecutions and 9,071 convictions in 2016. It is something that unfortunately does not have the happy ending with a hero that comes to save the day, and the bad guys don’t get caught.

This worldwide problem affects men, women and children of all ages, and the horrific crimes can be likened to a form of modern slavery. With the trafficking numbers increasing every year, being aware of the problem is only half the battle. While many different organisations are currently working towards solving the issue, what can you do to ensure your own safety from this heinous crime?

Who are the biggest targets?

With an estimated 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally, the biggest targets generally fall into these categories:

  • Children under the age of 18 induced into commercial sex
  • Adults (age 18 or over) induced into commercial sex through force, fraud, or coercion
  • Children and adults induced to perform labour or services through force, fraud, or coercion

These victims are not all hidden away behind closed doors, some are kept in plain sight – but due to the lack of social awareness are not discovered by the general public. There is no general profile for victims, they range from a number of different economic backgrounds, education levels and ethnicities. While this crime can affect anyone, there are a few factors that can make you more vulnerable such as:

  • Poverty and homelessness
  • Addictions and dependencies
  • Poor mental health and understanding
  • Online vulnerability
  • Travel to unknown places and high-risk areas

Human trafficking and travel – what you need to know

Travel should be a fun and exciting venture, but the reality is that there are risks involved. When you travel to see the sights and experience new places, you make yourself vulnerable by stepping outside of your norm. You are also isolated from others you know and trust and these barriers can make you an easier target.

People who travel alone are especially at risk of kidnappings, such as backpackers, people travelling for business and volunteers. They are also isolated from others they know and trust, and these barriers make them easier targets.

Human traffickers often pose as helpful strangers, or someone offering an irresistible opportunity. Be sceptical of all strangers and know that when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Other than putting your guard up, here are some tips for staying safe while travelling:

How can you keep yourself safe?

If you are travelling sometime soon, and especially in high-risk areas, there are a few things you’ll need to consider, plan and be aware of during this time:

  • Be prepared and informed before visiting a destination
  • Research and understand the areas known to be unsafe
  • Don’t ever knowingly put yourself in a dangerous situation
  • Try to avoid walking around alone at night or with strangers
  • Carry pepper spray if you can
  • Be a difficult target – someone who is aware of their surroundings and confident
  • Lock car and home doors as soon as you get inside
  • Be suspicious of attractive work opportunities and volunteer work – check out the validity of companies, initiatives and groups
  • Never give your passport/ documents to anyone except for airport security officials at security points
  • Check with family and friends for advice on travel plans

It may seem overwhelming to double check and consider every safety possibility before travelling, but the real question you should ask yourself is – am I willing to risk my life? If you would like some more advice on safe travel or feel your travel plans would fare better with the use of a protection solution, contact us today.