Human Trafficking: A Growing Epidemic and the Urgent Need for Awareness
Human trafficking is the new age version of slavery. It involves forcefully taking a person using fraud, lies, and coercion to get some work (labor) or sexual activity in return. Human trafficking does not discriminate against race, ethnicity, male, female, thin, fat, old, or young. There is no concern about one’s religion, income, or social status. Absolutely anyone can be a victim of human trafficking; there is no known way to avoid it.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, millions fall victim to this horrible crime in all countries around the world, including right here in the United States of America. It even occurs right here in our home state of Georgia. Atlanta has had many arrested for participating in sex trafficking (a form of human trafficking) crimes. There have been many sting operations over the years to catch those involved, including sheriffs, deputies, clergy, doctors, professionals, and those out to make a buck the ‘easy’ way. During Super Bowl LIII, there was an 11-day sting operation arresting as many as 169 people involved in sex trafficking. (Porter 2019)
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The Face of Modern Slavery
Human trafficking is known as an invisible crime, as it cannot be seen until it is brought to someone’s attention. This is due in part to the victim(s) being of other nationalities and does not know the language of where they are being held captive. The victims are afraid of their captors, or they are in fear of law enforcement. This fear gives the traffickers a considerable advantage when they take someone. Traffickers will use fraud, force, and coercion to lure the victims to them to take them. The traffickers will then move their victims out of the familiar territory and to an unknown area so they can then force them into labor or acts of sexual exploitation.
The Veiled Nature of Trafficking
Human traffickers look for those who are isolated from others and are susceptible in many areas, such as: depressed, alone, young, and easy to prey upon. The ones preying on these victims look for those who appear to be emotionally or psychologically vulnerable in economic hardship. Looking for those who do not have a social safety net (loners), victims of natural disasters, political instability, and teens or young children that are by themselves without an adult figure nearby.
Victims are usually depressed due to a lack of work resulting in not having enough money to pay bills. This is when the trafficker sees an opportunity to take advantage of this by using the bait of a high-paying job with a ‘quick return.’ Knowing all the while, there is no job, money, or anything similar except for taking the person and forcing them into slavery or sexual exploitation. This is the hook used to get the person into their ‘claws for the kill.’ This can result in trauma that is so horrible to the victim that they forget who they are and where they come from and are unable to speak to anyone when they are out in public to ask for help.
Vulnerable Targets and Their Exploitation
Human trafficking is a lucrative worldwide business. It attracts those who are looking for a high dollar and quick payoff. Human trafficking takes honest and professional individuals and turns them into evil beings. This crime generates over 150 billion per year. Out of the 150 billion, 99 billion are due to sexual exploitation, including prostitution. Some predict that human trafficking will produce higher income than that of drugs and weapons. (Farr, 2005; Shelley, 2005).
Drugs and weapons on a finite use, whereas humans are being sold over and over again, making a profit every time they are sold. Selling a human generates income for many years, depending on how many times that person is sold. This is not a new problem; it has occurred for many centuries. The exploitation of humans, including mass transporting humans from Africa to the Americas in the 18th century, has an extended rich history in the United States. (Bales, 2005; Gozdziak & Collett 2005).
Law enforcement finds it difficult to identify victims of human trafficking. This results in making it more lucrative to those criminals who choose to participate in the tax-free reward with little chance of being caught. There are more sting/undercover operations occurring to help rescue those who have been taken for exploitation. This is starting to make a difference, along with more education and awareness to the general public. Reports of missing people are being taken more seriously and are more thoroughly investigated. The U.S. is just one of many countries that are taking legislative action against those who commit this crime.
As a major world power, the U.S. has helped push others to take a stand against criminals. U.S. laws are not without fault nor criticism, but they are moving forward to make a difference. Some contend that the law is not victim-centered but that it re-victimizes those who have suffered through the slavery/sexual exploitation of being sold and exploited. (Beeks & Amir 2006). Victims are required to go through a certification process to be able to get any help for mental health, medical, or employment assistance.
The Urgent Call for Awareness and Action
Human trafficking is one of the oldest and most unforgivable crimes in the world. It is starting to grow and become more popular due to the high payout with little chance of being caught. Millions of men, women, and children have become victims of this type of crime every year around the world in all countries. It is a non-discriminatory crime, but it favors women and children. They are easier to fall victim to predators. It has become a more prevalent crime that is hitting closer and closer to home. It leaves one, especially a teenager, feeling unsafe outside of their home or school.
When you cannot go for a walk, a high school football game, to the neighborhood park, or hang out outside in the neighborhood without looking over your shoulder looking for the unknown vehicle and being in fear of someone trying to lure you into a car by offering a job for lots of money. When all they intend to do is take you far away from familiar known areas to force slavery and sexual exploitation upon the victim. Human trafficking is quickly becoming an epidemic, yet the media are hiding it as they do not report missing persons.
Therefore, this makes it even more appealing to those taking and luring children, men, and women into the victimization of human trafficking. This should be brought to the headlines to educate and bring awareness to all citizens of the world. Teach men, women, and children to be alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. Report suspicious cars and people who are not known in the neighborhood. This will encourage law enforcement to be more alert and patrol these areas more often, which will, in turn, discourage these predators from moving on and going elsewhere to keep from being caught and punished.
- “The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade” by Victor Malarek
- “Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade—and How We Can Fight It” by David Batstone
- “The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today” by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter