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How to spot human trafficking | Kanani Titchen | TEDxGeorgeSchool



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hello so once upon a time about eleven

thousand years ago during the Neolithic

Revolution agriculture was invented

which meant that suddenly these guys

turned into these guys which meant that

we ended up with these guys because

where you have an increased population

density and a robust economy as you do

with farming and you have people who do

the work and you have people who manage

people who do the work so yeah I'm here

today to talk about slavery and about

the choice that we have you and me to

perpetuate it or to stop it

so Neolithic Revolution hunters

gatherers farmers blah blah blah facts

forward eleven thousand years to today

we don't really talk about slavery

anymore we're much more sophisticated

than that we talk about human

trafficking human trafficking human and

trafficking innocuous right to perfectly

ordinary words put them together they

form an innocuous phrase used to

describe a horrific reality human

trafficking it conjures up images of

people riding in trains from city to

city or people sipping their mocha FRAP

a latte while they sit in with ten

thousand of their closest friends on the

i-5 bumper-to-bumper or the i-95 human

trafficking now toss in the word sex

well now you've got something to sell

papers with or talks like this one human

sex trafficking we also call it the

commercial sexual exploitation of

children that's a mouthful we give it

acronyms like SESAC or DMS T I suppose

to hide its hideousness human sex

trafficking we like to talk about

numbers forty five million dollars spent

per year in the US for online sex

trafficking alone 21 million people

enslaved globally

300,000 that's the number of us children

at risk for human trafficking each year

that's 300 of these slides with a

thousand figures and it's enough to fill

citizen bank park almost seven times

over $200,000 per year is what a pimp

stands to make from just one victim 15

years that's the age by which most child

victims are lured into sex trafficking

15 years old that's ninth grade but I'd

like to get away from the numbers which

are somewhat unreliable and likely the

tip of the iceberg in many cases see

when we try to count these traffickers

when we see them they vanish they

scatter they morph they change into the

nice lady down the street or her uncle

his boss her boyfriend they live among

us and so do their victims so I'm a

physician I knew about human trafficking

I read the news I read about the sex

trafficking ring in Bosnia run by UN

peacekeepers in the year 2000 I read

about sex tourism and Thailand

I read Sheryl WuDunn and a Nicholas

Kristof's Pulitzer Prize winning book

half the sky good read I knew about

human trafficking for organs for labor

for sex it happened in other countries

until I saw it in our operating room now

my family my families my my patients

they feel like my family my patients

identities are obviously confidential

and their stories really aren't mine to

tell but my patients are memorable and

they're more compelling than any numbers

and they've really shaped the way that I

think about others so yes while I was in

medical school I was in the operating

room for what was actually quite a

benign and mundane surgery except for

the fact that this woman had needed the

surgery eons ago so she came in she was

anesthetized and then we undraped her to

clean the areas for incision and there

was dollar signs

tattooed into her groin expletives

tattooed into her groin now thankfully

none of us laughed

none of us treated lewd comments about

the patient instead we just looked at

each other in surprise and we just

figured well to each her own we missed

it I missed it I didn't see it I didn't

see her so lesson number one it is said

that the eye doesn't see what the mind

doesn't know we didn't know what we were

seeing because we didn't know what we

were looking at we didn't know the signs

right in front of us the the tattoos the

late presentation to medical care these

are typical signs of sex trafficking

right in front of us and if we as health

care professionals don't make it our

business to learn about human

trafficking then we will miss it every

time so fast forward one year and I'm

now a pediatric intern on labor and

delivery so that means that I have my

nmd but I'm now training to be a

pediatrician a young lady is brought in

from the street and she has delivered

her baby on the street when the

ambulance couldn't get there in time by

the time the baby made it to my care

it was cold but otherwise remarkably

healthy the young woman sat in bed quite

composed full makeup beautiful hair

manicured nails jeweled and there was a

man who stood in the corner I figured he

was the father so I walked over to

congratulate him and he stared me down

crossed his hands in front of his chest

and said nothing so I made my way back

to the woman and I asked her so did you

get any prenatal care she said no she

didn't need prenatal care I said okay

well how long were you in labor she said

that she had been having contractions

for three or four days but she had to

work so she just took painkillers and

kept working so I

asked her what kind of work would

prevent you from coming into the

hospital to deliver your baby and she

paused and then she said that she was a

receptionist she looked uneasy I felt

uneasy I had three or four other

deliveries to attend to so I left didn't

follow up

I didn't attempt to get her by herself

away from her very intimidating male

partner so that I could ask her more

questions I was frightened

so I said to a nurse there is something

really wrong in that room and then I

left lesson number two it is not enough

to see we have got to act and it is hard

to act it takes courage it takes

training it takes support it takes a

team of people to help us to help others

and we have got to stand up and step in

because if we don't then it's possible

that nobody else will now there are some

patients for whom I did step in

there's the 15 year old white

middle-class girl who came into our

emergency department after running away

from her parents she had been on the

street for about four days and I asked

her some of the screening questions that

I had learned to ask after training with

gems gems is girls education mentoring

services it's a nonprofit organization

in New York City that specializes in

working with female victims of sex

trafficking so I walked up to this

patient and I said look I'm a physician

I don't mean any offense but I've seen a

lot of different kids from a lot of

different situations and I just need to

know when you're on the streets did you

have to trade sex for anything for food

for shelter for money she shrugged and

she said yeah sure I needed a place to

stay and I traded sex for a happy meal

once I took in this information without

shock without disgust this was simply

her reality thankfully that particular

patient was not being trafficked but she

was at risk see one third of kids who

run away from home are approached by a

trafficker within

forty-eight hours of running away

they're approached in a park at the bus

stop at the mall even in school some

kids even keep going to school while

they're being trafficked they live at

home and they go to school so in my

third year of residency in pediatrics I

was in the emergency department and I

overheard an emergency medicine doc

discussing one of the patients who had

just come into the ER and as I listened

something sounded off she gave some

fuzzy answers to questions about sex and

about risk for sex sexually transmitted

infection and so I said to this ER doc

hey um I don't mean to pry but it seems

like your patient might be in the life

which is slang for sex trafficking he

kind of laughed a little and then he

looked at me like I had two heads and he

said oh oh okay so I said to him look

would you mind if I asked her patients

and questions and he said sure go ahead

so I did and it turned out this girl and

her friends were being bused into the

city by their pimp every weekend to work

the hotels to work the conferences and

then they were being bused back to

school on Monday they turned in their

homework they watched their little

brothers and sisters after school until

mom gets home they come to see their

doctors and they're trafficked this

particular girl came into our emergency

department with her pimp who soon fled

and then this girl told the emergency

medicine Doc's that she just wanted her

mommy lesson number three be prepared to

be derided I people still roll their

eyes at me

I've been mocked I consider it a small

price to pay for doing what I know is

right and I am happy to report that many

of my patients have been connected to

resources to housing job training and

legal resources lastly I spoke recently

at a medical school and the medical

school student said to me how is it that

you see so many trafficked patients I

don't think I see any more trafficked

patients than other physicians it's

that I've developed eyes to see them and

I asked and I just want to close with

some of the resources because people

frequently ask me what can I do some of

the resources that I mentioned are gems

they are nonprofit donations go a long

way with this organization they house

trafficked girls path is one of the

organizations that I helped found the

physicians against the trafficking of

humans and we do a lot of research and

we spend our time educating medical

professionals and then there are a

number of other places Don's place here

in Philadelphia sanctuary for Families

Covenant House that offer services to

trafficked youth heal is an academic

source for people in law enforcement and

medicine who work on the issue of human

trafficking and for your definitive

resource go to Polaris Project online

they have all of the updated stats for

the United States and globally thank you

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