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January 16, 2020

Human Trafficking In Salons: Here’s What You Need To Know

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Here’s What You Need To Know About Human Trafficking & Salons

Human trafficking isn’t something anyone, least of all hairdressers, should have to worry about. But, did you know salons and spas were the number one location for human trafficking in 2018? Shocking, right? January marks Human Trafficking Awareness month, so Wella Professionals and Hairdressers at Heart partnered together to bring awareness with #hairdressersagainsthumantrafficking.


We spoke to human trafficking advocate and hairstylist Haley Garber (@beautybyhaleygarber) to get more information on the subject and what you can do to help. Scroll down to learn more about how you can get involved!


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What Is Human Trafficking?

According to the Polaris Project, a non-profit focused on human trafficking awareness, “U.S. law defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud or coercion to compel a person into commercial sex acts, labor or services against his or her will.” The 150 billion dollar industry makes more money annually than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined.


Who’s The Most Vulnerable?

“Anyone is vulnerable to be trafficked, though some are more susceptible. The most common ages of entry into trafficking [are between] 12 and 14,” says Haley. “The internet has opened many doors for this as it is easier than ever to groom people.”


The saddest part is that most victims are introduced through someone they know and trust. “It is a high misconception that kidnapping and violence are trafficking, when in fact it is often a grooming process of fitting basic needs, creating a dependency and pseudo family.”



What Are The Signs?

There aren’t any clear cut signs that paint one person or the next as a victim of human trafficking, but there are some common behaviors to look out for:


  • The client is always accompanied by someone who makes all of their beauty decisions and pays in cash.
  • The client is under constant surveillance by their partner.
  • Strange bruising around the head and neck.
  • The client is very reserved, isn’r sure where they are or avoids eye contact. 
  • The client has a brand, usually in the form of a tattoo along the ear or neckline with something like a barcode, ‘daddy’s girl’, a name, etc.


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So I Think My Client Is A Victim?

What do you do if you suspect one of your clients is a victim of human trafficking? First, it helps to have the National Human Trafficking Hotline’s phone number in your phone. “If you believe you may have a trafficking situation in your chair, please keep safety in mind and do not ‘out’ the potential victim or confront the potential trafficker. Texting the hotline helps keep safety a priority and they are able to walk you through the situation. You can also text them to learn more,” says Haley. 


You can reach the National Human Trafficking Hotline by phone at 1-(888)-373-7888 or by text at (233733).


How To Stay Informed?

Want to know more about the subject? Look up classes and seminars in your area.  “Salons and spas can make their spaces safer by getting education,” emphasizes Haley. “There are so many mistruths about human trafficking going around social media right now. The most powerful thing that one can do is take a training course to understand the truth about it. Following that a salon can then take the steps to create safety in their salon.”


For more information or to donate, visit polarisproject.org.


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