MARTA raising employee awareness about human trafficking

A train leaves the Kensington MARTA station in Decatur on Thursday May 17th, 2012. PHIL SKINNER / PSKINNER@AJC.COM
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A train leaves the Kensington MARTA station in Decatur on Thursday May 17th, 2012. PHIL SKINNER / PSKINNER@AJC.COM

If you see something suspicious, don’t ignore it.

That is the message that MARTA’s internal awareness campaign manager Leisha Kennedy has for employees when it comes to raising awareness about human trafficking. Kennedy presented statistics at a recent Planning & External Relations Committee meeting of the MARTA Board showing that between 400 and 500 young girls are sexually exploited on a monthly basis in Atlanta.

A train leaves the Kensington MARTA station in Decatur on Thursday May 17th, 2012. PHIL SKINNER / PSKINNER@AJC.COM

A train leaves the Kensington MARTA station in Decatur on Thursday May 17th, 2012. PHIL SKINNER / PSKINNER@AJC.COM

President Obama and Georgia lawmakers in 2012 directed federal agencies to increase anti-human trafficking efforts. The Department of Transportation urged transportation agencies to get involved, because transit workers are on the front lines of spotting these activities.

HB 141, a state law passed in 2013, requires certain employers or businesses (including MARTA and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport) to post signs to inform victims of a 24-hour toll-free hotline they can call to get help. If a business or agency affected by the law fails to post the signs, it can get up to a $5,000 fine per day.

MARTA is working to comply with the law by posting signs in rail stations and employee bathrooms, Kennedy said. In addition, the transit agency plans to post a human trafficking awareness video on its internal website for employees.

A spokesperson for the Atlanta airport also recently announced that airline and airport workers were being trained to spot signs of human trafficking.

According to Airline Ambassadors International, suspicions should arise when individuals:
• Have few or none of the usual personal items when checking in or
boarding a flight
• Are accompanied by someone who is far better dressed
• Avoid eye contact or are watchful to the point of paranoia
• Are unusually submissive to the person(s) accompanying them
• Are not allowed to speak for themselves if directly addressed, with someone
else insisting on answering or translating for them
• Do not appear to know where they are or where they are going
• Do not have the freedom to separate themselves from the person(s)
accompanying them (to use the restroom, stroll through the aircraft, etc.)
• May exhibit signs of physical abuse
• Appear to be malnourished and/or eat in-flight food ravenously
• Are evidently afraid of uniformed security personnel (being fearful of
revealing their immigration status)
• Speak of a “modeling” job or something similar without knowing who will
be meeting them upon arrival

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