January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and to mark this important occasion, Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST) and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) have joined forces to roll out the Not Alone awareness campaign in 76 United States seaports. This powerful initiative aims to raise awareness about the prevalence of human trafficking at sea by increasing awareness about the indicators of human trafficking in the maritime industry and helping victims know who to contact for help.
Human trafficking is a global problem, affecting millions of lives. Labor trafficking is a form of exploitation that can happen easily at sea in particular, where victims are often extremely isolated, their work is happening in international waters, and there can be confusion about which country’s labor laws are being followed. Workers who are exploited at sea can often only ask for help when their vessel docks at a seaport. But in an unfamiliar country, trafficking victims may not know how they can receive assistance.
That’s why an important first step to preventing human trafficking at sea is placing multi-lingual signs in United States seaport facilities to encourage victims and bystanders to become aware of the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
When human trafficking victims see signs posted in the places they frequent, they learn they are in a safe place where they can ask for and receive help to stop the abuse and exploitation they are experiencing. In addition, when seaport employees are informed about human trafficking, they can learn how to recognize the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it.
Victims of human trafficking often experience unimaginable suffering, both physically and emotionally. That's why the Not Alone campaign is essential. This campaign was created by a survivor of human trafficking, and the messaging on the signs speaks directly to victims to encourage them to realize that they are not alone. There is help available. And by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline, victims can be put in touch with social services, law enforcement, or the Coast Guard.
This January BEST and AAPA are providing Not Alone awareness materials to 76 AAPA seaport members across the United States. The resources for this campaign have been made possible by AAPA and BEST winning first place in the United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) 2023 Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award.
Through the USDOT's Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award, this awareness campaign is gaining momentum across the maritime industry, and this is helping human trafficking prevention remain a national top priority throughout the entire transportation industry.
Human Trafficking Awareness Month offers an opportunity to shine a light on a critical global issue. By dedicating an entire month to this cause, seaports can raise awareness and galvanize employees to help advocates on the front lines of preventing this crime.
"Every person who does businesses in seaports has the power to be a hero in the fight against human trafficking. Let's unite, raise awareness, and ensure our seaports remain safe,” urges Cary Davis, President of AAPA.
To download and print free Not Alone posters for maritime facilities, click here.