Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Port Of Seattle Begins Campaign Against Human Trafficking

Travelers waiting in line to go through a security check at Sea-Tac International Airport fill the concourse in this file photo. The number of people flying in and out of the airport is ahead of projections so far this year.
Elaine Thompson
AP File Photo
The Port of Seattle, which manages SeaTac Airport, is launching a campaign against human trafficking. Officials hope raising awareness among the nearly 46 million passengers who come through the airport will help identify and stop traffickers.

Port of Seattle officials say they’re taking greater steps to address human trafficking. That includes a public awareness campaign at Sea-Tac Airport.

Human traffickers often smuggle people into the country for cheap or free labor, or sexual exploitation. Airports and marine terminals are often places where that happens – and where people come to take advantage of those who are trafficked.

Steps to address it include better training for employees on how to identify and stop human trafficking, partnerships with businesses and state and federal agencies, and clear ways to report problems.

But the most visible actions will include public service announcements and posters on airport walls defining human trafficking and asking people to be on the lookout.

Kyra Doubek thinks the campaign will have an effect. She works as a behavioral health specialist, but five years ago, she was a victim of human trafficking.

She wondered how many people were being trafficked of the nearly 46 million people came through the airpor in 2016.

“How many of those people were involved in buying sex from somebody, or were trafficking another person?” she asked at a news conference in the airport’s arrivals hall. 

Doubek described being in a hotel room on SeaTac’s International Boulevard, waiting for men who had purchased sex with her. She wondered if they had been aware what they were doing constituted human trafficking, then they might have changed their mind.

“Labor trafficking is disguised as opportunity. Sex trafficking is violent abuse disguised as empowerment and financial security,” she said. “We as a society, as a state, as businesses, as people, must do something.”

Visit the Port of Seattle’s website for more information on its campaign against human trafficking.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.