SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU)
Bay Area airports mean to put a dent in the dark side of the Super Bowl: human trafficking, a practice that plagues all major events worldwide. This morning, airport, airline and other personnel at SFO were trained to spot people who may fit the profile of being a human trafficker or someone being trafficked. Oakland and San Jose airports get training Wednesday.
Trafficking knows no borders nor does it care about its victims. "It's all over the world. It is the second largest industry in the world, very close to drug trafficking," says Nancy Rivard, founder of Airline Ambassadors International. "We know that this type of activity increases during major sporting events like the Super Bowl and that's why we chose this timing to kick off this latest round of training around the Bay Area," says Doug Yakel, San Francisco Airport's spokesman.
Human trafficking refers to every and any illegal abuse of non-consenting defenseless people, including child sex, forced prostitution and coerced labor. "Are they frightened, ashamed or nervous? Are they afraid of uniformed security? Are they under the control of a traveling companion? Are they ravenously hungry or do they have wounds and bruises?" says Ms. Rivard who lists just some of the tip-offs.
Beyond that, trainees will get a new app that will aid them in how to identify and immediately report their suspicions to authorities. "People are coming in from out of town and we would call it they come in with a Super Bowl state of mind, and they are looking to party in an area where they don't have the kind of accountability that they would if they were partying in their own home town," says Betty Ann Boeving, of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition.
Human trafficking instructor and flight attendant Donna Lynne Hubbard knows what she's talking about. She spent years as a single mother, being sexually trafficked and beaten by a gang threatening her children. "It is easier for me to identify victims because I see the look in their face and I understand those and I see those individuals that are not in control of their own life, not in control of their paperwork, not in control of when they go to the bathroom. what they're allowed to say or who they're allowed to talk to," says Ms. Hubbard.
With hundreds of people at all three Bay Area airports educating thousands more, anyone who might want to engage in human trafficking is going to get a much closer look.