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The Invisible Chains: Uncovering the Realities of Human Trafficking
2nd September 2021 • Saint Louis In Tune • Motif Media Group
00:00:00 00:42:33

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Shima Rostami, Ed.D., Executive Director of Gateway Alliance Against Human Trafficking discusses the organization's efforts to educate communities and advocate for systemic changes to eradicate human trafficking in the Saint Louis area. Rostami highlights the vulnerabilities of certain groups to trafficking, the role of social media in exploitation, and the necessity for legal reforms to protect minors in the workforce. The episode emphasizes the importance of awareness, resources, and survivor support, concluding with a PSA that underscores survivors' resilience. programs that build a path to a more equitable understanding of the problem of human trafficking.

The International Awareness Day of Human Trafficking (00:00:14) Discussion of the mission of Gateway Human Trafficking and the importance of promoting awareness of human trafficking through education and positive systemic change.

Rescue Operation in Columbia, Missouri (00:01:21) Details of a rescue operation in Columbia, Missouri, involving nine human trafficking victims and two children, as well as the involvement of law enforcement agencies.

Introduction to Shima Rostami (00:02:38) Background information about Shima Rostami, the Executive Director of Gateway Alliance Against Human Trafficking, and her involvement in educating communities to combat human trafficking.

Identification of Vulnerable Groups (00:10:44) Explanation of the various vulnerable groups in the community that are susceptible to human trafficking, including children, individuals with disabilities, minority communities, and LGBTQ+ communities.

Negative Role of Social Media in Human Trafficking (00:12:31) Discussion of how traffickers use social media to recruit victims and the increased trafficking activities via online platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statistics and Underreporting of Human Trafficking (00:16:40) Insights into the challenges of gathering accurate data on human trafficking, historical underreporting, and the initiation of data collection from 2007 in Missouri.

Gateway Human Trafficking's Mission and Resources (00:19:01) Information about the mission of Gateway Alliance Against Human Trafficking, their educational modules, and available resources for potential help, including the trafficking hotline and upcoming events.

Saint Louis as a Hub for Trafficking (00:24:04) Explanation of why Saint Louis is considered a hub for human trafficking, citing its location and transportation infrastructure as contributing factors.

The prevalence of trafficking around sports events (00:24:56) Discussion on the increased trafficking activities around sports events and the exploitation of victims in suburban areas.

Systemic changes needed to combat human trafficking (00:26:47) The need for criminal justice reform and the importance of recognizing trafficking victims as victims, not criminals.

Lack of protection for working children (00:27:56) The issue of working children not being covered and protected under human trafficking protection laws, and the need for legal changes.

Resources and education on human trafficking (00:33:36) Information on how local and non-local groups can access resources, education, and support related to human trafficking.

Federal definitions and prosecution challenges (00:35:15) The federal definitions of labor and sex trafficking and the challenges in prosecuting traffickers based on these definitions.

Support for trafficking survivors (00:39:51) A public service announcement featuring survivors of human trafficking, highlighting their strength and resilience.

Myths vs Facts


For Immediate Help

  • For immediate help, get to a safe place and call 911. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to speak with a specially trained Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocate. Support is provided in more than 200 languages. Professionals are there to listen and connect you with the help you need to stay safe.

The following organizations can assist clients from anywhere in the United States with connecting to services that meet their needs.

National Human Trafficking Hotline


  • Direct link to local services
  • Call: 1-888-3737-888 or Text: “HELP” to 233733
  • Mission: The National Human Trafficking Hotline connects victims and survivors of sex and labor trafficking with services and supports to get help and stay safe. Please stay safe and know that you are not alone!

Missouri, St. Louis, and Kansas City Resources

Note: the website for Missouri resources is now:

This is Season 4! For more episodes, go to

#humantrafficking #forcedlabortrafficking #sextrafficking #survivoroftrafficking #domesticservitudetrafficking #traffickingsupport