Q: What is an intercept?
A: Our transit monitoring strategy focuses on identifying and assisting victims of trafficking while they are being transported and before they reach the destination where they will be exploited. We “intercept” someone when we have good reason to believe that they are in the process of being trafficked or at high risk of being trafficked. We then intervene to educate the person about the dangers of trafficking, to raise awareness about ways that they can safely seek employment abroad, and to help them to return home.
Q: What do you look for when making a determination that someone is being trafficked?
A: We have developed a questioning protocol that includes a list of visual red flags we look for to identify a potential victim as well as a line of questioning designed to determine if trafficking is taking place. Each staff member is trained to identify, question, and assist potential victims. Though they vary from country to country, some typical red flags include:
- Someone traveling overseas for work, but the employer’s phone number is fake or the promised salary is unrealistically high.
- Someone traveling overseas who appears too impoverished to afford an international flight and whose travel was paid for by someone else.
Q: How do potential victims react when they are told they are possibly being trafficked?
A: They often express disbelief at first and do not want to believe that it is happening to them because often they are being recruited by a relative, friend, or someone in their community where there is some level of trust. For many, they are traveling out of desperation to provide for their families, so they are hesitant to turn away from a source of hope. However, after some education and time spent in conversation with our staff, they often gain an understanding of the risks involved and, in the end, are very thankful for our work.
Q: Where do the intercepted victims go after they are intercepted?
A: Most often, they are able to go home after being intercepted. Because we intervene before potential exploitation occurs, they are generally not in need of extensive counseling or care but simply a thorough understanding and awareness about human trafficking and safe migration. We coordinate for most potential victims to head home the very same day. At times, they will stay at our shelter if they are not able to return home or if, based on our home situation assessment, it is not safe to send them back home. In those rare cases, we partner with a longer-term aftercare organization.
Q: How do you know a potential victim is not going to be trafficked again?
A: We educate potential victims about the dangers of trafficking and very seldom intercept the same person twice.
Q: How do you know a potential victim is not going back to the same bad situation?
A: We do assessments of potential victims' home situations and send them home only if they have a safe place to go to and there is no reason to believe that the family was knowingly involved in the suspected trafficking situation.
Q: Is there any follow-up with the potential victims after they are intercepted?
A: We conduct “post-intercept calls” one to six months after they have been intercepted in order to follow up on how they are doing and to determine if they need further assistance. However, it can be difficult to get in touch with past victims after the intercept.
Q: What happens to the potential victims who decide to continue with their travel plans, even after they are warned about the risks?
A: It is difficult to know exactly, but we provide them with phone numbers of organizations that they can call for assistance should they need it in the future.
Q: Do potential victims understand what trafficking is?
A: Some may have heard of the term or have a basic understanding of the concept, but many may not be able to recognize when it is happening to them because often they are being recruited by a relative, friend, or someone in their community where there is some level of trust.
Q: Why are potential victims vulnerable to being trafficked?
A: Many potential victims are vulnerable because they are living in poverty and lack opportunities at home, so they are desperate to seek employment opportunities elsewhere, including urban areas and overseas. They may be naive about the opportunities that would be available and lack the resources or awareness to identify whether an opportunity is legitimate or a front for trafficking. Some countries, such as India, have a gender imbalance that creates an artificial demand for young women, creating an incentive to deceive the poor in source countries, such as Nepal.
Q: What happens to the person suspected of trafficking the victim?
A: If there is clear evidence of trafficking, our investigation team will gather intelligence about the suspects and work with the police to attempt an arrest and to file a case. If we are successful, the suspected trafficker will be taken into custody and prosecuted. (As of January 2023, we have secured over 1,200 arrests, with 32% of closed cases resulting in convictions.) However, there are many obstacles that stand between an intercept and a conviction. Traffickers will often threaten the victim or her parents, or they may bribe the victim to withdraw the case. Other times, the victim might just be too afraid of the impact that pursuing a conviction would have on her reputation.
Q: Are suspected traffickers men or women?
Q: What gives you the authority to stop a potential victim/suspected trafficker who is traveling across a border?
A: We do not have official authority to prevent travel of potential victims, and we do not attempt to forcibly prevent someone from traveling. However, most choose not to move forward after we educate them about the risks involved. Although we don't have the legal authority to prevent a girl from traveling, there are three ways that we can do so:
- Often after we call the girl’s parents, they insist that we don't allow her to go. If she is a minor, they have the authority to make that decision.
- We can involve the police, who have the legal authority to stop her.
- We may convince the girl that she is being trafficked so that she decides not to go on.
Q: Is it dangerous to do this work along borders and at other transit areas?
A: Human trafficking is, by its very nature, a violent crime, and the networks that engage in it tend to use violence—especially against those they see as a threat to their livelihood. Our staff are regularly threatened by traffickers, and we take their safety very seriously. Through training, preparation, and cooperation with local authorities, we are able to keep our staff safe, and none have been seriously injured in the line of duty.
Q: Do you intercept only women and girls?
A: We intercept both female and male potential victims. The majority of those we intercept are young girls and women who are likely being trafficked for sexual exploitation. Some young girls are potentially being trafficked for forced labor. The young boys we have intercepted are most likely being trafficked for labor, for work in circuses, or for body parts.
Q: Why do you focus on intercepting potential victims instead of rescuing them?
A: There are two main reasons. First, by intercepting potential victims before they cross the border into another country, we are able to save them from reaching the destination where they may be hidden and subjected to trauma and exploitation. Even after rescue, the rehabilitation process for a trafficking survivor is often a long and difficult one. Therefore, our strategy focuses on actively preventing trafficking—and the resulting trauma—to keep potential victims from being exploited in the first place. Second, the cost to intercept a potential victim is minimal compared to the cost of rescuing and rehabilitating a victim. We strive to employ a strategy that can make a broader impact given limited resources. Even so, no child or adult should ever have to endure a life of slavery, and we support and partner with other organizations that focus on rescues.
Q: How many potential victims are intercepted each month?
A: This number varies every month. Join our email list and be the first to hear when we release our monthly numbers.
Q: What efforts are being made to educate the most vulnerable about the issue of trafficking?
A: With every potential victim we intercept, we prioritize educating them about the dangers of trafficking. We believe that this approach to awareness is very targeted and effective because it is educating someone that we believe was actually being trafficked or heading into a high-risk situation.
Q: What's the average age of a potential victim who is intercepted?
A: According to studies, the average age of a victim of transnational trafficking is between 15–16 years old. However, we have intercepted girls and boys as young as 6 years old. The ages of potential victims and the number of individuals intercepted are always changing. Please visit our website www.LoveJustice.in for the most up-to-date information.
About Getting Involved
Q: An estimated 50 million people are enslaved in the world today. That is an overwhelming number, and I am just one person. Can I really make a difference?
A: The numbers are indeed staggering and can be numbing. But it is important to remember that the number represents people, each of whom is unfathomably precious. If we can save just one, that would be incredibly worthwhile. Just imagine the lengths you would go to if it were one of your loved ones! Yes, you really can make a difference!
Q: Can I come on a brothel raid?
A: It is very difficult to get foreigners meaningfully involved in short-term volunteer anti-trafficking work. There are many pitfalls. Also, we don’t do brothel raids. Our focus is on intercepting victims who are in the process of being trafficked, and for that we rely on nationals who know the language and understand the culture.
Q: How can I help?
A: You can help by giving to our family homes and The Dream School or by joining our monthly giving community, Project Beautiful.