By Amanda Froelich | True Activist
In an attempt to crack down on the illegal sex trade, approximately 100 flight attendants flew to Houston, Texas, before the Super Bowl last week to train with Airline Ambassadors. Since 2009, the organization has been training employees of various airlines to identify when a trafficker flies with a victim.
That training can be credited with saving a woman’s life, as in 2011, Shelia Fedrick was able to help rescue a trafficking victim when she noticed something peculiar. NBC News reports that on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco, the Alaska Airlines employee became aware of an odd duo flying together. A young passenger in her teens with blonde, greasy hair was traveling with an older man who was “well dressed,” according to the flight attendant.
“Something in the back of my mind said something is not right,” the 49-year-old told 10 News, recalling the encounter. The girl, she said, looked like she had been through pure hell” and appeared to be about 14 or 15 years old. Recalling the striking difference between the teenager and the man she was with, Frederick said:
“He was well dressed, that’s what kind of got me because why is he well dressed and she is looking disheveled and out of sorts.”
Realizing that minute detail, Shelia decided to probe. But when she tried to engage in conversation, the man became defensive. That’s when the flight attendant knew something was up. She quietly told the girl to go to the bathroom, where a note had been left on the mirror. “She wrote on the note she needed help,” said Frederick.
The activist then alerted the police about what had happened, and by the time the plane had landed, law enforcement was waiting to question the man. The incident might have occurred a handful of years ago, but it’s entirely relevant as approximately 700,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. Approximately 80% are women and girls, and up to 50% are minors.
Fortunately, the young girl now attends college and is free from trafficking. It’s this type of initiative and awareness that is essential for more victims to be rescued.
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