Human trafficking, better known as modern day slavery, has existed within America ever since the government began to look at the world in shades of gray, and not judge people by race, religion, or gender. Thousands of Americans including women, men, and children are victims are human trafficking, and the questions in the minds of people everywhere are what exactly is taking place, why is it taking place, how is it taking place, and also who are the main targets and what can we do to help them.
These innocent civilians are victims of something much bigger than just the faces sleeping on the street, selling drugs, and even worse selling their bodies. They are helpless beings of earth not criminals, and their human rights are being mentally, physically, and emotionally abused. “Combating human trafficking is going to require creativity and collaboration amongst government authorities, law enforcement, social services, academics, and victim advocates” (Thakur). Trafficking of humans seems to be this unrealistic, unheard of problem; however, it is not. “Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. States” (National Human Trafficking Resource Center Report). Victims are recruited, transported, transferred, and harbored to America for the purpose of exploitation. They are forced to work in sweatshops, in houses as domestic slaves, farms, and for the commercial sex industry such as prostitution, escorts, and even in pornography. These are innocent people that are forced to lessen themselves as people, and when law enforcement steps in, looked upon as criminals. Instead of the help and the therapy these beings of life so desperately need, they get throw into juvenile detention, which then forces them to endure more trauma to their lives than they already have been through. In cases like these, victim’s civil rights are completely taken out of the situation and tossed aside for “appropriate punishment”. Traffickers use particularly contradictive, deceptive ways to manipulate their victims to believe the false promises they propose. Some offer opportunities for a good job, education, or marriage. Since most of the victims happen to be children, the traffickers pose as a boyfriend, caretaker, or protector; however, if the victim refuses or denies, they will not hesitate to use force, threat, fraud, abduction, abuse of power, or even payments and benefits. “The vast majorities are sold through classified ads on websites. The Attorney General’s office documented that underage girls were sold through these ads in at least 22 states” (Axtell). Vulnerability plays a huge role in trafficking. Traffickers tend to target younger children mostly because of their immaturity, gullibility, and vulnerability. McMahon 2
The risk in being caught as a trafficker deals with prison time or even death sentence, so is the risk and guilt of trafficking human beings worth all the trouble? “The National Human Trafficking Resource Center estimates it’s a $32 billion industry, with about 50% of this revenue coming from industrialized countries. This surpasses the sale of illegal arms” (Axtell). Basically, the traffickers are receiving free labor while making billions of dollars. Not to mention when demand is there, supply will follow, and there is an outrageous command for modern day slaves. Unfortunately, when an illegal industry grows so great, it takes an immense amount of time and patience to even get close to putting an end to it. Although it does seem like mission impossible to put an end to the misery, it can happen. Since authorities are beginning to see these people as victims and not criminals government programs are being created all the time. First off, they changed the law so children could not be incarcerated for their exploitation and abuse. Second, programs such as GEMS (girls education and mentoring service), and SHE (survivor healing and empowerment) are constantly providing support for victims of human trafficking. Stop Child Trafficking Now donated 21,060 dollars to help fund for the prevention of trafficking, and the 2012 Nation Walk raised 210,000 dollars. SCTNow has funded programs such as cyber teams, rescue centers, rehabilitation centers, and special investigation teams. “The cyber teams are talented, professional men McMahon 3
and women who make Internet pathways safe for children” (SCTNow). They identify and track down cyber predators who pose online as teenagers. Also, they keep all communities aware with the community investigative teams they fund as well. On top of funding programs to stop trafficking SCTNow focus a vast amount of energy of the effort on stopping the demand for human trafficking. With this entire desperate endeavor to stop the abuse on civil rights, one day it might just happen. Even though anyone can be trafficked, traffickers target vulnerable people. Factors that cause vulnerability include lack of opportunities, poverty, unemployment, abusive homes and young age. Although men, women and children are all defenseless, but young women are especially of interest because the traffickers force them into prostitution that financially benefits them. “At least 12.3 million people in the world are trafficked” (CRS). Out of the 12.3 million people trafficked, 1 million of them were children alone; however, on average, only one person is convicted for every 800 trafficking cases worldwide. Not even one percent of the children victims are identified. Ages twelve to fourteen are the primary target for traffickers. Most of the young girls who end up in the sex trade come from dysfunctional, abusive homes and they just end up running away; however, some of the children do not have parents at all and have experienced an extremely rough life. They fall into the lies that the traffickers tell them. The traffickers paint them McMahon 4
a picture of a new, happy future, but more often than not they end up dead, an addict, or more miserable then before. In the United States, California has 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Modern day slavery, also known as human trafficking has torn apart families, taken away civil rights, caused mental, physical, and emotional damage, and killed innocent people. Ideas are held on why and how people do it, knowledge of who the victims are and what happens to them when in the possession of a trafficker, and the government and other programs are continuously doing the best they can to help prevent, stop, and save victims of human trafficking. “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves” (Lincoln).