Identifying Potentially Trafficked Persons
If you are a service provider, remember that it is not your role to determine for certain that a person has been trafficked. Your responsibility is to offer support, protection, escape, recovery or a referral to other agencies.
A comprehensive list of services is available at www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/octiptraining.
Whether you are a member of the public or a service provider, consider the following signs to look for.
Signs of abuse and control
- Believes they must work against their will.
- Is unable to leave their current situation.
- Shows signs that their movements are being controlled.
- Is subject to violence or threats of violence against themselves or loved ones.
- Suffers injuries that appear to be the result of an assault.
- Suffers injuries or impairments typical of certain jobs or control measures such as cigarette burns or branding tattoos.
- Is distrustful of the authorities.
- Is afraid of revealing their immigration status.
- Does not have their passport or other travel or identity documents.
- Has false identity or travel documents.
- Is found somewhere likely to be used for exploiting people, for example a drug lab.
- Is unfamiliar with the local language.
- Does not know their home or work address.
- Allows others to speak for them when addressed directly.
- Is forced to work under unhealthy or unsafe conditions.
- Is disciplined through punishment.
- Receives little or no pay.
- Works excessively long hours over long periods.
- Has no access to medical care.
- Has limited contact with their families or with people outside their immediate environment.
- Believes they are bonded by debt.
- Is in a situation of dependence.
- Comes from a place known to be a source of human trafficking.
Signs that a child may be trafficked
- Does not have or cannot reach a parent or guardian.
- Looks intimidated and does not behave like a typical child their age.
- Has no friends of their own age outside of work or time to play.
- Lives with someone not related to them and not a guardian.
- Does not go to school.
- Eats apart from other members of the "family" or eats only left overs.
- Does work that is not suitable for children.
- Travels unaccompanied or in groups with people who are not relatives.
The following might also indicate that children have been trafficked:
- The presence of child-sized clothing typically worn for doing manual or sex work.
- Toys, beds and children’s clothing in inappropriate places such as brothels and factories.
- An adult claims that they have "found" an unaccompanied child.
Signs that a person is living in domestic servitude
- Lives with a family and has no private space.
- Sleeps in a shared or inappropriate space.
- Does not eat with the rest of the family or gets only left overs.
- Is unable to leave the home at all, or may only leave in the company of a member of the household.
- Is expected to be available to work up to 24 hours a day, with few or no days off.
- Has been physically or sexually assaulted by her employer or members of the household or is subject to abuse or threats.
Signs that a person is being sexually exploited
- Moves from one brothel to the next or works in various locations.
- Is escorted whenever they go.
- Has tattoos or other marks indicating "ownership" by their exploiters.
- Works long hours with few if any days off.
- Sleeps where they work.
- Lives or travels in a group, sometimes with other women who do not speak the same language.
- Has clothes typically worn for sex work.
- Knows only how to say sex-related words in the local language or in the language of the client group.
- Has no cash of their own and cannot show any identity documents.
- Suffers from drug or alcohol addiction, or from malnutrition.
- Has scars or injuries, or other signs of abuse or torture.
Signs that a person is being exploited for labour
- Lives in groups in the same place where they work and leaves those premises infrequently, if at all (and only with their employer).
- Lives in degraded, unsuitable places, such as an old barn or storage shed.
- Works in unhealthy or unsafe conditions and for excessively long hours.
- Does not have the right clothing or protective gear for the job.
- Receives little or no pay and has no labour contract or contract is overly restrictive.
- Depends on their employer for work, transportation and accommodation.
- Is subject to security measures preventing them from leaving the work premises.
- Is disciplined through fines.
- Is subjected to insults, abuse, threats or violence.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School, 2014.|
|Human Trafficking in Canada © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|