TAT Is Making Headway In Fight Against Human Traffickingby Jana Ritter - Published: 4/04/2016
Truckers Against Trafficking is back in the news making more headway in raising awareness about human sex trafficking. Based in Colorado, the nonprofit group has again hit the highways; pulling a trailer across the U.S. to appear at industry trade shows, truck driving contests and several truck stops along the way.
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Last week workers with the organization appeared with the TAT trailer at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY. Thousands of visitors were invited inside the trailer to hear stories and see displays revealing the reality about the women and men that truck drivers often see walking around dark parking lots and knocking on doors to offer their “services” for a fee. The main message, is that many of these people are selling themselves against their own will. Truck driver, Antoine Sandler, admitted that TAT’s awareness campaign completely changed his perception of the truck stop prostitution he’s been witnessing for nearly two decades on the job. “It’s heart wrenching,” Sadler says. “You see a lot of stuff while you’re out there on the road.”
Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking, says that is exactly why they have focused their awareness campaign on teaching truck drivers to see the signs of involuntary sex trafficking. “We recognize truckers are the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways, and that they are oftentimes in places pimps will bring their victims in to be sold,” she explains. “Who better to equip and educate on this topic?” Paris also says that sex trafficking has long been intertwined with the trucking industry and TAT has not only been teaching truckers to see the signs, but also equipping them with the resources to alert authorities.
So far, TAT has trained more than 215,000 truckers to identify potential indicators of human trafficking. As a result, more truck drivers have been reporting incidents over the last few years by calling the resource center or calling law enforcement directly. In 2015, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center received more than 4,100 calls about potential sex trafficking cases, up from 3,600 in 2014 and 3,300 calls in 2013. In Kentucky alone, more than 250 calls were placed to the National Human Trafficking resource center and resulted in 63 cases being opened. Kylla Lanier, deputy director and co-founder of Truckers Against Trafficking says that while efforts to put truck drivers on the front lines of combatting human trafficking is certainly helping, more involvement is still needed from everyone. An increasing number of truck stops, independent drivers, fleets, driver training schools and state trucking associations are becoming aware of the issue and are learning how to take action. “We would like to see 100% participation, training every single driver ... but trafficking is not just a trucking issue, it’s an everywhere issue,” she adds.