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Human trafficking is the second most common criminal act in the Unites States behind drug trafficking. Due to the alarming rise in cases, Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) has pledged to collaborate with other federally qualified health centers across Florida to train employees on recognizing and responding to the signs of trafficking.

“When we think about human trafficking we mainly think about sex trafficking, but it is also happening in the workforce as well,” said Eunice Hines, Director for Migrant Health Services and Outreach. “It is modern day slavery.”

Under Florida Statute 787.06, human trafficking is a crime committed when a person benefits from transporting, soliciting, recruiting, or obtaining another person for the purpose of exploitation of that person for labor, services, or commercial sexual activity. There are four different types of human trafficking: sex trafficking, labor trafficking, forced marriage, and involuntary servitude.

CHI clinical staff are trained to handle patients who may be victims of human trafficking and are having difficulty communicating that they are in danger. The organization is now committed to ensuring all 700 employees, including non-clinical staff members, are equipped with the proper tools and training.

“We are incorporating an interactive training course that will provide resources to staff,” said Hines. “As an organization, we are putting policies in place to follow the appropriate channels when reporting cases to keep victims and our staff safe.”

Hines also notes that it is crucial to recognize the underserved and migrant population that we care for at CHI, where it may be possible to overlook warning signs of human trafficking or abuse due to cultural norms.

“Sometimes we see male partners accompanying an OB/GYN appointment with their significant other and they may answer questions for their spouse,” she said. “It is easy to think that it is a cultural trait for the spouse to answer for the wife, but now with this education, we are digging a bit more. We can never assume.”

Many victims will end up going to medical centers for help and it is crucial to know the signs. Spotting the traits of human trafficking could make a difference between life or death.