Human Trafficking in the So-Called Friendly Sky

Nancy Rivard brought about the rescue of 82 children illegally transported from the Dominican Republic. She was a passenger on a plane and saw some interactions between a woman and two children that made her suspicious. She called a hotline when she arrived at her destination, and as a result the children were rescued from human trafficking.

She decided to share her powerful knowledge with others in her industry—flight attendants. Read more about her work against human trafficking in the airline industry.

Moved by the impact of a simple phone call, Rivard joined the fight against human trafficking by working to educate other airline personnel. Her experience illustrates both the immense effect that a single person with knowledge of the issue can have.

Rivard teaches her colleagues the “blue lightning” protocol, which was developed by the Department of Homeland Security. Blue lightning is law enforcement code for human trafficking. When a crew member sees a suspicious situation, he or she alerts the flight deck, which then contacts the airline operations ground crew. The ground crew notifies law enforcement while the plane is still in flight. This advance notice gives agents time to research and analyze the situation and act accordingly.

While she’s making an impact within her professions, it’s vital to remember that she saved dozens of kids simply as a passenger who was paying attention and spoke up. That’s something we can all do. So program the Polaris Project hotline in your phone right now, 1-888-3737-888, and keep your eyes open.

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Emily founded Stop Traffick Fashion in 2009. She’d been becoming more and more involved in the abolitionist movement, and she decided to start STF as an opportunity to bring together the best of all products made by survivors of trafficking. She hopes her response to trafficking will inspire others to take action, even in a small way. Emily lives in Bend, Oregon, enjoys traveling, and has visited Hagar International and StopStart in Cambodia.

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