“He made me his slave. He broke me down. He took my heart, mind, and soul.” says Diana Bolivar who was held hostage in sex trafficking for two years in Colombia” (“Orlando Sentinel”). Human trafficking is still a human rights issue that affects millions of lives every day. Traffickers know that abduction is easy, profitable, and extremely violent, but they could care less.
Human trafficking has been in existence for thousands of years. From Greek and Romans to Medieval times, and up to today, humans are still taken in to physical and sexual slavery.
Anyone can be trafficked. It can be a woman walking to her car in a parking lot, a little girl or boy who gets tricked into getting in a stranger’s car, or a teenager at a party leaving drunk in her most vulnerable state. Social media is such a big platform that now human trafficking can be done online as well. For example, flirting on an app then meeting up with a person only to be abducted by the end of the night.
Trafficking doesn’t only include women, it includes men too. “…men and boys are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in many countries around the world, and they even outnumber female victims within certain subcategories of trafficking” (“Human trafficking”). Some people are tricked to believing that the trafficker will get them a well-paying job to only later finding out they are not giving the work they were told and are forced to work in conditions that they did not agree to such as prostitution, pornography, and sex shows.
Traffickers take away identification of any sort so that the police won’t be able to find them.
“Traffickers can expect to make a lot of money with minimal fear of punishment or legal consequence” (“How Trafficking Exists Today”). Sexual desire is what creates sex establishments. “The demand for sex slaves is relatively elastic, so the quantity demanded changes in response to changes in price” (Roach). For example, increasing the price of sleeping with a sex slave can reduce the demand notably. Traffickers do not pay their slaves and that is what makes sex trafficking profitable because all of their revenue goes directly to profits. “Prostitution in the US is a 14.5 billion dollars a year business” (“Prostitution in The United States”). Based on 2007 data, the average annual profit per sex slave ranged from $11,349 in Africa up to $78,196 in Western Europe, with a worldwide weighted average of $29,210.” (Roach). This data shows how remunerative sex trafficking is. It is illegal, but penalty is hardly ever enforced because of the lack of international coordination in prosecuting trafficking crimes.
Some of these women may choose prostitution for financial reasons but many women are forced into prostitution against their will. Girls at a young aged are taken away from their families and sold into prostitution. Violence is one of the major issues of prostitution. “…threw me out of his car. My dress got caught in the door and he dragged me six blocks along the ground, tearing all the skin off my face and the side of my body” (“My 25 years as a prostitute”). Brenda Myers-Power shared this experience with BBC News as she was a former prostitute. “Figures vary, one report citing 60% of the abuse against street prostitutes perpetrated by clients, 20% by police and 20% in domestic relationships” (Weizter). Some men pay for sex because they believe they are unattractive and can’t have sex without paying for it, and others simply just want no strings attached. But these men are blind in seeing what these women go through. They convince themselves that prostitution is a choice and that none of the women they see are exploited” (Schwartz). It is wrong for men to make assumptions about any women who is visiting them, and it is unethical to even pay for these services.
Karla Jacinto, a woman from Mexico estimated that 43,200 is the number of times she was raped after being taken by traffickers. Her story shows the horrible reality of human trafficking that has damaged many girls like Karla. When she was twelve-years-old she remembers waiting for her friends near a subway station and a boy came up to he and told her that someone sent her candy as a gift. As soon as that happens, a man tried to make a conversation and told her that he was abused when he was little, and Karla could relate because she came from a dysfunctional family as well.
She said the man was super affectionate and came off as a gentleman. They each gave each other’s phone numbers, and he called her a week later and she was excited. He asked her to tag along with him on a trip and when she seen the car she said, “I was impressed by such a big car. It was exciting for me. He asked me to get in the car to go places.” She ended up leaving with him and lived with him for three months and was treated well she says. He spoiled her with materialistic things, love and, attention. Shortly afterwards the trafficker and his cousins confessed that they were pimps and he told Karla everything she had to do; the positions, charges, length of time, how to treat and talk to them so that they would give her more money.
“I started at 10 a.m. and finished at midnight… Some men would laugh at me because I was crying. I had to close my eyes so that I wouldn’t see what they were doing to me, so that I wouldn’t feel anything.” Karla was forced to see at least 30 customers a day, seven days a week. She was attacked by her trafficker, “He started beating me with a chain in all of my body. He punched me with his fists, he kicked me, pulled my hair, spit at me in the face, and that day when he also burned me with the iron. I told him I wanted to leave and he was accusing me of falling in love with a customer. He told me I liked being a whore.” “Karla Jacinto was rescued in 2008 during an anti-trafficking operation in Mexico City. (Romo)”
Human trafficking still is happening today, and the problem only continues to grow. Unfortunately, these women are very hard to find, they can be walking around in public and you would never know. There are ways to help fight human trafficking. A person can report their suspicions to law enforcement by calling 911 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline (“…Help Fight Human Trafficking”). Volunteer and support anti-trafficking in your community. You can write or meet your local, state, and federal government representatives. Organize a fundraiser and the proceeds be donated to anti-trafficking organizations. Conduct an awareness-raising event to discuss what is human trafficking and the importance to abolish it, and you can do this at your church or at school. It is important to be well informed because human trafficking is a human rights issue that is highly violent, and traffickers only care about the money and the “convenience” of it. Humans are not for sale, and those who have a voice must speak for those who are voiceless.