HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Folks are flocking to Houston for the Super Bowl this weekend but along with every major sporting event comes victims of human trafficking. What's being done to fight it?
Well, first answer this question: Do you think Alicia Kozakiewicz is an airline worker or a survivor sex slavery? We found Kozakiewicz certainly looking the part of an airline worker. She was teaching a class at Hobby airport, wearing a beautiful navy suit, a name tag and a lovely neck scarf.
“They see me as a flight attendant and I say you don't know how close a survivor or victim may be and I show my missing person poster,” explains Kozakiewicz.
If you guessed she is a survivor of human trafficking you are correct. She was abducted when she was 13 years old.
”He held me captive in his basement dungeon and I was raped and beaten and tortured. He kept me chained to the floor by a locking dog collar”. Kozakiewicz’s captor was posting what he did to her live online which is ultimately how she was rescued.
Kozakiewicz, along with the non-profit Airline Ambassadors International and the program We've Been There Done That, is teaching airline workers to spot sex trafficking victims. What are the signs? “Individuals who are not in possession of their own identification, their travel documents. Not being able to speak for themselves. The person with them is doing all the talking, not having luggage,” explains We’ve Been There Done That founder Kathryn Griffin.
“A child that's frightened ashamed or nervous or has bruises. A young woman traveling under the control of someone else,” adds Airline Ambassdors International founder Nancy Rivard.
“I felt powerless and even though I was not suicidal there were times I wanted to die,” says Donna Hubbard who was held in human trafficking for seven years. It wasn't physical chains that held her in the prostitution ring but rather brainwashing mental chains. She was forced to comply with regular beatings and torture.
”I knew there could be repercussions to my family, to my children and I would have done anything to protect my children,” Hubbard says choking back tears.
”Traffickers move their victims frequently on airplanes,” adds Rivard. So her organization is training everyone from travelers to pilots as sex slaves are brought to Houston during Super Bowl week. ”If we can teach airline and airport employees to correctly identify them we can save a life and we have many times. Our first tip led to the bust of a pornography ring in Boston saving 86 children”.
“Don't look away any longer because it is slavery, it is modern day slavery. If you look away and do nothing you're as guilty as the traffickers,” says Hubbard.
You can easily report suspected trafficking by downloading the new Airline Ambassadors International app. It's called “TIP Line” in the app store.