Human trafficking is a very prevalent issue in today’s societies throughout the world. Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. The extremely high demand for sex and cheap labor are two of the leading factors in the expansion of human trafficking. Despite efforts from various individuals and organizations, millions and millions of men and women are illegally traded each year. Many agree that human trafficking is a horrific injustice but fail to acknowledge the underlying conditions that enable the growth of this industry.
The various reasons most individuals fail to think deeper than the surface issues to address the underlying issues are discussed in depth in The Sociological Imagination by C.Wrighr Mills. Until the underlying issues are acknowledged and corrected, more and more humans will be illegally traded.
According to The Sociological Imagination, many problems of society are overlooked because the issues do not directly impact the individual’s life.
Many individuals do not make the connection between their own life and the big picture, in this case the relevance of human trafficking. They fail to see that although human trafficking may not directly impact one’s life, the illegal trade of humans may indirectly impact their life. The humans illegally traded, not only face sexual and labor exploitation but many are forced into marriage. Others are forced to become street beggars or child soldiers. In some of the worst cases the humans trafficked are killed and their organs are sold on the organ black market. Individuals not aware of these alternate forms of human trafficking usually fail to see how common it is and do not see the indirect impact human trafficking may have on their life.
Another condition enabling the construction and expansion of human trafficking on the global scale are the efforts to stop human trafficking are being concentrated on the wrong principles. Organizations like SafeHorizon, Called to Rescue, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Deborah’s Gate all focus on rescuing individuals from trafficking or helping individuals assimilate back into society after being trafficked. I acknowledge these are very useful tactics but these organizations are only addressing the victims after they have been traumatized instead of addressing the underlying issues of why there is human trafficking and developing ways to prevent it. Some of their efforts should be transferred to implementing procedures or strategies that prevent individuals from becoming victims instead of for after they become victims.
The corruption of government officials and police force in countries where human trafficking is most prominent, also play a large role in the growth and expansion of human trafficking in certain regions. Bribes are taken so certain businesses are not investigated or raided. These businesses are known to illegally trade human beings but they are allowed to continue their illegal actions. Authorities are aware certain individuals are partaking in human trafficking but merely look the other way. Until this changes or the corrupt government officials and police officers are removed from power, the number of humans illegally traded will continue to rapidly grow.
But even honest government officials and police officers face difficultly in combating human trafficking. Human trafficking is such a lucrative business because of the high demand for sex that even when authorities are able to apprehend individuals who are trading humans illegally, new individuals pop up and pick up where they left off. Another obstacle authorities face is that many individuals who are involved in human trafficking operate at such a small scale, it is very difficult to know about their actions. Numerous individuals illegal trade humans in small rural homes or small businesses and keep their actions very discrete. Authorities trying to end human trafficking face almost insurmountable odds.
The Sociological Imagination touched on the idea that individuals feel trapped by the problems of today. They are unable to look beyond the immediate troubles and issues. Humans are too consumed with the struggles off everyday life to invest time in correcting large-scale social injustices. Individuals feel as if their vision and powers are limited to the smaller scale of their jobs, family and neighborhood. This idea is another condition enabling the construction and expansion of human trafficking on a global scale. If one feels as if they are powerless and cannot change or do not have the time to change large scale issues, then change is not brought about. One individual can make change no matter how big or small the injustice they are trying to combat is.
Until one internalizes and begins to believe they can make a difference, their efforts usually are consumed by irreverent problems of everyday life. Another condition enabling the construction and expansion of human trafficking is that many individuals are distracted from the larger social injustices. The media chooses which stories to shed light upon and in turn decide the importance of issues. If an individual is exposed to the same story numerous times, they are inclined to believe that story is more relevant and important than a story that receives less coverage. Some forms of media purposely give more coverage to celebrity drama or irreverent issues to distract individuals from the larger issues. The larger issues can more easily be swept under the rug if “the people” are not addressing them.
If the horrors and alarming statistics of human trafficking where displayed in the media more often, people would be more inclined to correct the conditions that enable the construction and expansion of human trafficking. The Sociological Imagination opened my mind to the conditions that prevent individuals from dealing with the troubles and issues that matter. Individuals are seldom aware of the intricate connections between the patterns of their own lives and the course of the world. Because they do not make this connection most individuals cannot cope with their personal troubles in an efficient enough way to be aware of the structural transformations that lie beneath them. Sociological Imagination is having the ability to grasp reality by putting everything into perspective to make sense of the non-sense by thinking below the surface. Until more individuals possess this sociological imagination, things will not change.