With COVID-19 restrictions evolving currently and over the next few months into the summer, individuals are travelling leisurely or for work more often. Whether it be to a relative’s home in the next county or state, or a cross-country drive; cars, buses and trains must make stops to either refuel gas tanks and make maintenance repairs, as well as give travellers the opportunity to stretch their legs and grab something to eat or drink. Filling stations and rest stops are very common on long journeys.
Worldwide there are almost half a million filling stations and rest areas; not including truck stops and the number continues to grow. Travelling, regardless of the means, takes a toll on the human body. Unlike air and sea travel, those restricted to vehicles cannot just get up to move around. Senses are dulled and tiredness sets in easily. As stated in the Air Travel and Sea Travel security awareness segments, individuals are troublingly oblivious to their surroundings even when they are not succumbing to travel exhaustion. Filling stations and rest areas already contain crowds depending on the time of travel so it is redundant to mention that one needs to keep an eye on his or her belongings; however, one must not forget that while at these road or trackside areas of port, awareness of the area might save someone’s life. Annually, human trafficking goes under the radar because the traffickers are not only good at what they do but also can adapt to their transfer areas relatively easily.
Human trafficking is very real. Hundreds of millions of individuals of every age are trafficked from reasons ranging from labour exploitation to sex exploitation under direct violence or the threat of violence to a loved one(s). Regardless of if the threats hold truth or are fabricated, the suffering and physical abuse for victims are staggering; this is where the land travellers’ security awareness comes in.
Fear is an emotion, which does not mix well with the schematics of the body. If someone is frightened, panicked, or uncomfortable, the body gives off tell signs such as a stiffened posture or frantic eye movements. Moreover, fear ensures silence on the part of the victim(s), which is when the observation of the traveller(s) come into play and the traveller(s) need to act fast! Trafficking victims usually only have a limited window of opportunity to be saved because transferring the human merchandise needs to be fluid and with anonymity. It is imperative to know the signs of a potential trafficking victim and how to report it:
Body language red flags:
What the traveller(s) can do:
By Matthew Porcelli, CPP
You can connect with Matthew on LinkedIn here