Human trafficking is a $150 billion criminal industry, denying freedom to an estimated 25 million people around the world. In honor of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30th, Bumble is partnering with Polaris, a nonprofit committed to preventing this modern-day slavery, to help our users learn what human trafficking is, and how to spot warning signs.
What is human trafficking?
The reality of human trafficking is more complicated than the Hollywood version, which often involves kidnapping. It includes both sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Traffickers trick, threaten, force, or manipulate victims into providing sex or labor against their will — sometimes, but not always, using physical violence. Polaris’s experience in combating human trafficking shows that, in most cases, victims are forced into the industry through psychological means, coercion, or fraud.
Who is affected by human trafficking?
People of every gender and sexual identity, age, nationality, and ethnicity are trafficked worldwide. Some populations like women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color are disproportionately affected, according to research by Polaris. So while it’s true that anyone could become a victim of trafficking, the reality is it’s much more likely to impact people with a vulnerability that traffickers can exploit — such as someone with a history of domestic or physical abuse, who was kicked out of home, or who needs money in order to pay for basic needs. It’s by no means limited to underground or illegal industries; cases have been reported and prosecuted in restaurants, cleaning services, construction, factories, and more.
Since human trafficking can happen through manipulative and unhealthy relationships, it’s important to educate yourself so you know how the crime actually manifests — to help protect yourself against potential exploitative relationships as well as to help your friends and family who may talk about their own experiences with you.
Awareness and what to do
Signs of human trafficking will differ based on situation and sector, but there are some general warning signs to look for.
Potential trafficking victims might:
- Seem unusually fearful of a partner, family member, or other figure in their lives
- Be limited in their ability to come and go at their own will
- Have no control of their own belongings, finances, or IDs
Potential traffickers might:
- Use feigned romantic interest, extreme flattery, and promises of gifts as a form of coercion
- Use the potential victim’s previous experience in unhealthy relationships as a way to assure them that they alone can care for the victim
- Make false promises that they can get the potential victim a career in modeling, dancing, or music, which may include paying for travel expenses
- Read more about signs to look out for here.
Always feel free to reach out to the Polaris-operated U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline if you’re unsure about a situation. You can call 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to 233733 (BeFree) to get connected to support.
Don’t forget that Bumble is always here to help our users. We are dedicated to keeping the Hive a safe space for authentic and kind connections for everyone, and users can contact our team 24/7 directly within the app through the Contact & FAQ button or by emailing our support team. We encourage everyone to take time to learn how to build strong friendships, practice self-protection when it comes to new relationships, and check in with those around you.
If you want to get involved with Polaris, learn more about what you can do or the resources available to you, visit polarisproject.org/bumble.