By Nevaeh Morgan

Trigger Warning: This piece talks about sex trafficking and possible outcomes that are involved. 

First and foremost, if you have suspicions of a human trafficking event or have experienced human trafficking in any form, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

 

In the year of 2019, 50,000 people were trafficked into the United States.

50,000.

That is more than just a number. It is something that signifies torment and heartbreak. Children, men, and women of all ages, races, genders, and nationalities were taken away from their lives and forced into human trafficking. When you think of those two words, what situations pop into your head? It’s almost certain you block out possible outcomes due to fear and denial that they could truly happen. And I’m here to tell you, those terrifying thoughts aren’t things that could happen. Those are things that do happen. These are positions that no human being should be in. I should not have to write this. But it is crucial that we’re all aware of what human trafficking is, how to prevent it, and how to help in situations we cannot control.

The website Unodc.org tells us that, “Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.” 

Despite the fact that there are still other factors to these terrifying activities, 52% of trafficking cases involve children being sold into sex slavery. Children being anywhere from having their umbilical cord still attached to their belly buttons to 17-years-old. They are demanded to perform atrocious acts on camera just to please disturbed people for a few minutes. They are then passed on to the next person. The children are forced to work a number of hours every day for years. Not only this, but thousands of people — all ages — are being sold into sex slavery every day. Individuals are forced to have their organs surgically removed. They are forced to marry people they have no say in choosing. They are forced to work hours upon hours for little to no pay, formulating products just so others have the opportunity to wear a fancy name brand outfit. 

The worst part? Only about 0.4% of human trafficking cases are identified, meaning the vast majority of cases go undiscovered. Since the number of solved cases are so low, we all need to take precautions within ourselves, our communities, and anywhere we possibly can to prevent human trafficking from occurring. 

In order to help, we need to be attentive to those who are the most vulnerable. Of the enslaved, an estimated 71% are women and girls and 29% are men and boys, with the most common age being 12 to 14 years old (dosomething.org). An internet safety website tells us that most traffickers will target teens who appear vulnerable, depressed, seem emotionally isolated from family and friends, have low-esteem, or appear to have a lot of unsupervised time. Runaway and homeless youth as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war or conflict, or social discrimination are frequently targeted by traffickers. Although these are the most common tactics human traffickers use, they’ll still take any individual — it’s just less likely. Don’t for a second think, “this won’t happen to me,” or “my child is completely safe.” These things are happening all around us in situations we cannot completely control. But there are some things we can do to help, and I strongly urge you to follow these steps in any suspicious situation.

According to the Nations Human Trafficking Hotline, traffickers are most likely the following:

  • Brothel and fake massage business owners and managers
  • Employers of domestic servants
  • Gangs and criminal networks
  • Growers and crew leaders in agriculture
  • Intimate partners/family members
  • Labor brokers
  • Factory owners and corporations
  • Pimps
  • Small business owners and managers

With this industry earning nearly $150 billion a year, it might seem difficult to put a stop to it, but here are some small-to-big steps you can take to help. 

  • Be an informed consumer by asking who and where your food was produced
  • Volunteer with any anti-trafficking organizations in your community
  • Meet with local, state, and federal government to ask/ provide information on how you can help support these situations and what measures they are taking to help
  • Organize fundraisers for anti-trafficking organizations

Please take all of the precautions you can to ensure that you and your loved ones stay safe, and do what you can help trafficking victims survive and escape. 

More Information About Human Trafficking and How to Prevent It:

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-human-trafficking

https://internetsafety101.org/trafficking

https://humantraffickinghotline.org/what-human-trafficking/human-trafficking/traffickers

https://humantraffickinghotline.org/what-human-trafficking/human-trafficking/traffickers

 

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