About 20.9 million men, women, girls and boys worldwide are human sex slaves in a practice known as human sex trafficking. A practice where the victim is forced into sex and owned by their "pimp" for the rest of their lives.
An Indian teen named Aanya had been one of them. She left home to get a job to support her family, but became enslaved instead. Her captors forced her to work with no pay, never allowing her to leave and beat her constantly. Police helped her go free, but she's among the lucky ones.
Millions of victims are held hostage and abused right in front of our eyes.
CNN's Freedom Project, which aims to end human trafficking, as well as the Atlanta Airport, have started an initiative to help civilians and airport workers spot them. The airport has not only included ads around its terminals to spread the word, but has also held conferences to help educate the masses to take notice to the signs.
But airports aren't the only place to spot sex slaves. CNN compiled a comprehensive list, but we gathered a few more tips to help people notice victims in need.
1. You're in a place where sex trafficking happens the most.
While sex traffickers and their victims can exist anywhere, the chances of spotting them increase if you're in highly populated areas of transit and anonymity, from airports to massage parlors, strip clubs, modeling agencies and sporting arenas. CNN's Freedom Project chronicles the Atlanta airport's fight to end human trafficking. In fact, victims are shuffled from place to place right before our eyes. It's important to be vigilant when we're in these places.
2. They're malnourished, and have signs of abuse such as bruises or burns.
Sex-trafficking victims are treated like animals, abused if they try to get away or disobey their pimps. Their mental health could also be in question, i.e., depression or PTSD, which means they aren't going to spend much time, nor have the opportunity, to eat or cover up the marks.
3. They seem timid, paranoid and won't make eye contact.
If you try to speak with a victim, whether to say "hello" or if you're a costumer at their place of work and they look away, appear nervous or scared or just ignore you, they could be a sex slave. According to CNN:
Fear and intimidation are two of the tools that traffickers use to control people in slavery. Traffickers often prevent victims from interacting with the public because the victim might say something that raises suspicions about their safety and freedom.
4. They're among a group, but with one male as the leader.
In a CNN report, Sgt. Ernest Britton explained to an Atlanta airport crowd to look out for a bunch of young women following a male who appears to be the leader. "If you try to say 'hello' and they look to the man first before speaking to you, those are some clear signs you might want to be paying attention to you," he said. An ISIS sex slave who helped the pimps anonymously revealed that she would recruit up to 50 girls at one time.
5. They can't answer questions without someone else present.
Intimidation is a huge tactic that traffickers use to scare victims into listening to what they say and to keep them from trying to escape and get them into trouble. If you attempt to engage in conversation with a questionable-looking girl or woman at the airport, or even while she works, and she can't answer without a translator or another person present, that's a red flag.
6. Lacks travel documents or doesn't know where they are, or has no sense a time.
If you're a member of law enforcement, or even just suspicious, ask to see the victim's travel paperwork or even where she lives. If she can't answer, that's not a good sign.
7. Has very few personal possessions, ill-fitting clothes.
If you spot a girl or group of girls walking throughout the airport, or standing outside a stadium, with no personal belongings, such as a purse or bags, she could be a victim. Another sign of victimization is loose, dirty or inappropriate clothing for the weather, i.e., no jacket, shorts in winter.
8. Has a tattoo of barcode, the word "daddy" or a man's name.
Tattoos are totally normal, but if a girl looks a little too young to have a tattoo, or the ink is a barcode of a man's name, that's not so normal.
9. Quite simply, they're under 18, or look under 18, and are engaging in prostitution or sex acts.
Going to a strip club isn't a crime, but if you spot a young girl, ask about her. Strip clubs, adult video stores and the like are hotbeds for trafficked victims. Speak up.
If you spot any or some of these signs, don't intervene yourself, but do alert the authorities right away.
You could be saving a life.
Watch CNN's full report below:
Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Or text INFO or HELP to us at: BeFree (233733) if you suspect you've seen a human trafficking victim.