Labor Trafficking in Your Neighborhood - Community Partner Post

Jeanette Smith - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

January marks Human Trafficking Awareness month. Within the wide umbrella of human trafficking is the issue of labor trafficking, which happens on a daily basis all over the world, including in the United States. It is estimated that there are currently 21 million victims of trafficking and forced labor in the world today (International Labor Organization); 5.5 million of these are children.

The U.S. is both a source and transit point for trafficking, and is considered to be one of the major destinations for trafficking victims. Miami, in particular, is one of the four major points for human trafficking within the United States.

The implication of this upsetting statistic is that the laborer you drive past working in a field or even the child that you see hanging laundry in a yard could have been labor trafficked here. Labor trafficking does not discriminate based on age, race, gender, or geographic location; with profits as high as $1.5 billion dollars each year, anyone is susceptible to fall victim to or contribute to trafficking.

Labor trafficking can occur in many types of workplaces, including restaurants, bars, tourist venues, janitorial services, and agricultural work, all industries that are prevalent in South Florida and throughout our state.  It is distressing to know that forced labor is happening around the world, and even more so when you realize that it may be happening in your own neighborhood.

UNICEF helps governments recognize the signs of labor trafficking through the training of social workers, health workers, police officers, and other border officials to spot signs of trafficking. UNICEF, along with community partners, including  South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, is working to address labor trafficking by hosting information sessions, panel discussions, film screenings (i.e. “Not My Life”), and fair trade fairs, but we need your help and your awareness as we continue this work. 

Although the problems within our communities may at times seem overwhelming, we have no doubt that together we can create a better system for everyone.

Written by Laylah Copertino, UNICEF Community Engagement Fellow, Miami, Florida

UNICEF is a community partner of SFIWJ. For more information about UNICEF, visit

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