During a press conference on Capitol Hill this week, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) jointly announcing the launch of a new effort aimed at getting more truck drivers involved in the fight to eliminate human trafficking activity from the U.S. transportation industry; an effort dubbed the “Man to Man Campaign.”
“Our industry’s voice is powerful. From truck drivers to dock workers to dispatchers throughout the supply chain, if we can continue talking to one another about the atrocity that is human trafficking, we can make substantial progress toward our goal of eliminating it,” noted Elisabeth Barna, ATA’s COO, during the press event. “Now that our industry is aware that human trafficking is a problem, we want to challenge trucking to take the next step in its eradication. That starts by having difficult conversations with people in our communities, but we know we’re up for the challenge.”
The groups said the “Man to Man Campaign” is founded on the belief that if there were no demand for commercial sex, then sex trafficking would not exist. To that end, TAT is featuring truck drivers who advocate strongly against human trafficking and who also keep a watchful eye out for such activity and report suspected trafficking to law enforcement.
[John McKown, a driver for UPS Freight and a member of the ATA-sponsored America’s Road Team, recently presented on his experiences as a TAT-trained advocate during a TED Talk series.]
According to national survey results from Demand Abolition – one of the groups involved in the new campaign with ATA and TAT – roughly 20% of adult men aged 18 to 64 have bought or would consider buying commercial sex if the circumstances permitted. Further, approximately 35% of men have searched online sex ads but not engaged in the transaction. Data suggests that of the men who search online sex ads, most of their search activity happens during the work day and many prostitution transactions happen on the way to work, during lunch, or immediately after work.
ATA and TAT noted that employers can create policies to mitigate the potential risk and protect employees from harm. Additionally, major transportation companies are also in a prime position to leverage their leadership and economic influence to raise awareness about human trafficking and effect change, argued Kylla Lanier, TAT’s deputy director.
“At the very root of the sex trafficking and sexual exploitation epidemic sweeping our nation and world is the demand,” Lanier said. “The prostituted person, and more recently, the traffickers have been the focus of attention and arrests, while the buyer goes home with a warning. This must change. Traffickers meet the demand for commercial sex by luring their victims into this life and keeping them there through force, fraud or coercion. If there were no money to be made, they wouldn’t pursue this criminal activity. When all is said and done, if there is no buyer, there would be no victim.”