By: Demi Bujnoch
Imagine this, you’re sitting at the breakfast table on a Sunday morning, enjoying those yummy pancakes and bacon with maple syrup. You have the local news channel on and a breaking news story flashes across the screen of a local girl who went missing from town ten years ago was just found. Turns out, she was lured and abducted by a man and ended up being sold in a human trafficking ring. She made it out alive but for many others the story will end much differently.
When we think of the words Human Trafficking we always think “that could never happen to me” but in all honesty it can happen to anyone and it’s important to understand the signs. The true definition of human trafficking is the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It’s important to note that human trafficking can include, but does not require, movement. You can be a victim of human trafficking in your hometown. At the heart of human trafficking is the traffickers’ goal of exploitation and enslavement.
Human Trafficking is a nationwide crisis. In the United States, human trafficking is prevalent in Texas, Florida, New York and California. Of the 600,000-800,000 people trafficked across international boarders each year, 70% are female and 50% are children. The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade. Each year, an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States. Believe it or not human trafficking is everywhere. It is both a domestic and global crime with victims trafficked within their own country, neighboring countries and between countries. Victims of trafficking can be of any age and any gender but mostly women and children are often used the most and specifically for sexual exploitation.
Types of Human Trafficking.
There are many different types of human trafficking. Sexual exploitation and forced labor are the most commonly identified forms of human trafficking. Many other forms of exploitation are often thought to be under-reported. These include domestic servitude and forced marriage; organ removal; and the exploitation of children in begging, the sex trade and warfare. Human trafficking works hand in hand with other major crimes, illegal arms and drug trafficking. Human trafficking has been proven to be one of the largest international crime industries in the world.
Causes of Human Trafficking: it’s complicated.
I know what your thinking, “what do you mean causes?” The causes of human trafficking are complex and interlinked and they include economic, social and political factors. For instance, poverty alone does not necessarily create vulnerability to trafficking, but when combined with other factors, it can lead to a higher risk of being exposed to human trafficking. Some of those other factors include, lack of access to education or jobs, family disruption or dysfunction, lack of human rights and economic disruptions.
Prevent Human Trafficking.
So, you ask yourself, “how do we prevent this?” The first step and best response to human trafficking prevention is to prevent people from being trafficked in the first place. It is important to educate yourself on the topic and become more aware of the signs of human trafficking. Other ways to prevent human trafficking include, encouraging healthy behaviors in relationships, fostering safe homes and neighborhoods, identifying and addressing vulnerabilities during health care visits, reducing demand for commercial sex and ending business profits from trafficking-related transactions.
There are a few courses of action you can take against human trafficking. If you witness suspected human trafficking or other forms of exploitation, speak up. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have been national leaders in advocacy and education efforts related to sex and labor trafficking. There are tons of resources out there, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask about them. These resources can help you take action if you believe there are human trafficking victims within your community.
The world of human trafficking is dark, but together we can work to be the light.
If you know of a school or youth-serving organization that is interested in scheduling some lessons on human trafficking awareness, please contact our Outreach Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 979-245-9109 x128.