Flight attendants fight for training on sex trafficking awareness
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Flight attendants across the country are hoping to be trained to spot sex trafficking on planes.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA is working to get legislation passed that would make it mandatory for all flight attendants to be trained annually on how to detect if someone is a sex trafficking victim.
“We started to notice more often there were passengers on the planes, who shouldn’t have been there with certain people, and we started to notice kids with people who they shouldn’t have been with,” said Natasha Glasper, MEC/LEC President for the Miami Air International Local Council.
Glasper said they are already trained on how to handle unruly passengers and this would be another element to keeping their passengers safe.
“To know that now we have to be vigilant of this going on in our office in the sky, it’s scared us. And we were like we have to do something about this as first responders because we are the eyes and ears for these people who don’t have a voice. So we took upon ourselves to say this is part of our job. We have to protect our traveling public,” Glasper said.
Jamie Walton is a survivor and also an advocate for sex trafficking victims. Her foundation, the Wayne Foundation is located in Charlotte County and helps victims. But she said someone has to be out there looking for the victims.
“The hospitality industry and travel industry are really cruxes of the human trafficking world. That’s where a lot of human traffickers transport, is within the airlines and within the hospitality industry…I think that their participation is absolutely vital in order to fight against human trafficking.”
Walton who was trafficked at 14 used to fly from Tampa to Atlanta, where she said she would meet her John and he would sell her for sex. She does not know if this training would have helped her situation, but she said the more awareness out there, the better chance she has of helping more vicitms.
“Human trafficking refers to victims as being in plain sight and that’s because they are,” said Walton. “We are constantly looking at human trafficking victims and not knowing that they’re being victimized. So when we have people who are coming into contact with them that are trained to know what a victim looks like and what the indicators are, the red flags are, its more of a chance that we’re going to be able to find them and try to help them.”
As for Glasper and the Association of Flight Attendants, they are hoping to get the legislation passed this fall, so they can start implementing training as soon as next year.