Grassroots blitz involves federal, state, local agencies and hundreds of volunteers to heighten awareness of the growing problem
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) today announced the statewide Illinois Rescue and Restore Human Trafficking Outreach Day, to be held on Saturday, April 24. The event is the fifth of its kind to be held in Illinois and is designed to raise awareness about human trafficking and help rescue victims of this growing crime. At a press conference at the State Capitol, IDHS Assistant Secretary Grace Hou highlighted the growing problem here in Illinois.
"Human trafficking is not only illegal, but it is a serious violation of a person's basic rights as a human being," said Hou. "We want to make sure that victims of this crime know that there is help for them. We are also working to fight the stigma and create awareness of this illegal trade so that anyone who is suspicious of trafficking activities will call the hotline and report it."
The state of Illinois produces the fifth highest volume of calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. An estimated minimum of 16,000 to 25,000 American women and girls are victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Chicago alone every year.
The Illinois Rescue and Restore campaign, launched in 2005 by IDHS and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is a coalition comprised of local agencies, state agencies, law enforcement and the faith community seeking to combat human trafficking in Illinois. Illinois is the first state to form this unique and cutting edge collaboration with HHS, and is seen as a model for other states. Outreach is one of the five statewide goals for the Illinois Rescue and Restore coalition, along with training first responders, prosecuting offenders, coordinating services for victims, and collecting data on human trafficking
On Saturday, April 24, hundreds of volunteers from every corner of the state will canvass neighborhoods and hang thousands of posters advertising the national human trafficking hotline and will encourage the public to rescue and restore victims of human trafficking.
Signs that may indicate a victim of human trafficking:
- Lack identification or travel documents.
- Have little control over his or her schedule.
- Lack concrete short or long term plans.
- Live and work in the same place.
- Show signs of physical assault including: branding, tattooing, broken bones, or other signs of abuse.
- Exhibit submissive or fearful behavior in the presence of others.
- Lack knowledge about a given community or whereabouts.
- Date much older, abusive, or controlling men.
If you or someone you know may suspect this illegal activity, the toll-free 24 Hour National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, 1.888.3737.888, is designated to provide assistance to organizations and victims of trafficking. The hotline helps organizations and victims of trafficking by providing instant referrals to pre-screened aid organizations in their city. For more information, visit www.dhs.state.il.us/rescueandrestore/.