We hope to raise awareness about this growing industry
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is defined as “the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sex exploitation.” When most of us in the United States think of “trafficking,” we think of sex trafficking, especially the sexual exploitation of minors. However, minors aren’t the only people being exploited for what is essentially human slavery. It’s also easy for United States citizens to think that trafficking occurs only outside the US or only in less developed countries, but that’s simply not true: according to (source), human trafficking is active, or at least exists, in every area and region of the United States. Trafficking is not confined to cities, nor is it confined to any group of people or any working class. Human trafficking creates huge profits for traffickers, or “pimps”; because of this, anyone is likely to be involved in human trafficking, including authorities, schoolteachers, and executives, even your next-door neighbor. Human trafficking affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and from all areas of the United States.
Adults, many of them immigrants to the United States, are exploited for work in prostitution, brothels, debt bondage, and forced labor on farms or in homes. Sex trafficking affects over 32 million people world wide, and in the United States alone, 100,000 children are sold into the commercial sex trade every year. These people, including runaway children, are usually treated as criminals by law enforcement, rather than victims, which often makes them feel as if they have nowhere else to turn but back into trafficking. And unfortunately, stronger immigration laws have helped, rather than hindered, human traffickers and pimps. Immigrants learn of the stronger immigration standards, and become afraid to ask for help from outsiders or contact authorities due to their fear that they will be sent home. In many cases, these people who are being trafficked are the source of livelihood for their families in other countries. Traffickers coerce vulnerable people in search of work into coming to the United States, to sell them into forced servitude.
Immigrants, whether they are children or adults, are generally especially vulnerable to trafficking because of their usual lack of awareness of their own rights in the United States. Some children are even born into sex slavery and do not know any other way of life; adults, on the other hand, may be told false promises to entice them to immigrate to the United States or to convince them work at certain jobs. Then, their traffickers will withhold information from their victims, including the victims’ own legal work visas and papers. Alternatively, many immigrants may not even know that they are working in the United States illegally, and operate on the faith that their trafficker will eventually free them if they just comply with all the tasks they are given. Many immigrants are also led to believe that if they try to seek help for their situation, they will be arrested or deported; these threats are used to keep the victims quiet and in submission to their captors.
"What is..." Works Cited
Aradillas, Elaine, Nicole W. Egan, Caitlin Keating, Jill Smolowe, and Jeff Truesdell. "Selling the Girl Next Door." People 16 Dec. 2013: 80-83. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Campbell, Gregory J. "The Tip of the Iceberg: Human Trafficking in America." The Tip of the Iceberg: Human Trafficking in America. The Rock River Times, 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
"Editorial: Human Trafficking a True Horror." Charleston Daily Mail. Charleston Daily Mail, Winter 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Stuart, Elizabeth. "Human Trafficking Awareness Day" Deseret News. Deseret News, 10 Dec. 2011. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
Zalan, Kira. "Emerging From the Sheadows." U.S. News Digital Weekly 29 Mar. 2013: 11. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Who partakes and facilitates these sales?
The human trafficking industry is a terrible one, but a very lucrative one for people to get into. I am going to talk today about the pimps in this business and what is so enticing that leads them to join such a terrible profession. When I say pimp, the thought that usually comes to mind in a dangerous prostitution slinger that has an army of men ready to kill; this is not actually the case though. Pimps can be your average everyday person; they are always very good at blending in and camouflage themselves well.
The average slave today costs around $90, this just shows you how many more we have in the world now than we did back in the 1800’s. That doesn’t seem like all that much, but when you see the quantity of slaves these pimps sell it adds up. This leads me right into my first point on why people get into this business anyways. Three of the main reason why are because the money in the industry, the exit barrier is very stiff, and some people are just born into this life style.
With over 32 billion dollars (15.5 billion of that coming through industrialized countries) there is plenty of money to be made out there, and in this world today somebody will be willing to go get it. Most of the people who get into this business are in a bad way with whatever they are doing, and the money blinds them from the act in which they are doing. Money is a very powerful thing and it can make people do terrible things. This is probably the main reason people partake in the facilitation of human trafficking, and it is only growing. Once you are part of the human trafficking business, you are most likely in it for life; this is my second reason on why people get caught up in doing this. Human trafficking; just like drugs, is highly illegal. When you are dealing with illegal industries there is a great amount of risk involved, and several people’s lives on the line. Once you are part of this ring, the only way out is to die, because it puts everybody else at risk. These pimps can get away with these threats because they people they are dealing with can’t go to the police without being arrested for human trafficking. It is a bad situation for those involved who see the light and want an out. Lastly, some people are just born into this environment which is very unfortunate. When kids are born into this lifestyle, they are raised to think it is the only way of life. They are cursed from day 1, and usually never get the chance to get out.
Human trafficking is a fast growing industry still today, and the incentives to join are far too great for some people to turn down. Human traffickers can be all around us and we may never know, so it is important to watch for clues and keep an eye out. Think of every car you have driven by on the freeway. One of those cars was probably being driven by a human trafficker, and probably had a slave in the car. This is a very scary but real thought.
"Global Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet." Global Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. http://www.equalitynow.org/node/1010
Goldberg, Eleanor. "10 Things You Didn't Know About Slavery, Human Trafficking (And What You Can Do About It)." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 July 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. http://www.huffi.ngtonpost.com/2014/01/15/human-trafficking-month_n_4590587.html.
"Human Trafficking Trends in the United States | Polaris | Combating Human Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery." Human Trafficking Trends in the United States | Polaris | Combating Human Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery. N.p., 22 Nov. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/overview/human-trafficking-trends.
Luscombe, Bulinda. "Inside the Scarily Lucrative Business Model of Human Trafficking." Time. Time, 20 May 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. http://time.com/105360/inside-the-scarily-lucrative-business-model-of-human-trafficking/.
"Slavery Is a $32bn Industry so Why Aren't We following the Money Trail?" The Guardian. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fglobal-development%2Fpoverty-matters%2F2013%2Fjul%2F15%2Fslavery-industry-money-human-trafficking>.
"11 Facts About Human Trafficking." 11 Facts About Human Trafficking. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. <https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-human-trafficking>.
Solution: Education and Awareness
The best way to prevent human trafficking, as a whole, is to educate ourselves about the issue. A great way to do this would be to educate people on how to spot potential victims. Currently, classes like these are offered to first responders and law enforcement. Those types of classes generally teach indicators of potential victims. These include behavior and physical state, social behavior, and work conditions and immigration status. Victims of human trafficking will generally be fearful and anxious and, more often than not, show signs of physical or sexual abuse. Immigrants and people in the country on work visas are often more likely to be victims as well, as their smuggler’s can blackmail them with the threat of deportation. Another thing taught in these classes is that risk of human trafficking is much higher in areas of low income or conflict. These classes, when taught to first responders, can do wonders in spotting and freeing victims from human trafficking. I feel that if these classes were taught to the public, specifically teachers, coaches, and parents, even more could be done to make waves against human traffickers. Children are the most highly targeted group for human trafficking, and if you could educate the people who have the most interaction with them, hundreds and hundreds more cases of human trafficking could be stopped.
Another great way to prevent human trafficking is to check your slavery footprint. Slavery Footprint is a website that lets users know roughly how many of their household, daily use items are manufactured by child or forced laborers. We will discuss this more in-depth below, but according to the website, around 42 different slaves manufacture the things that I own and use on a daily basis. To me, that is a shocking figure and hopefully if more people know how many human trafficking victims were involved in the production of their household items, they would be more concerned about putting a stop to it. Slavery Footprint also has a list of companies that are slave labor free. If people started shopping only at those places, it would greatly reduce the need for slave labor and, in turn, human trafficking. The website also has a letter writing functionality that enables users to put pressure on their favorite retailers to end their use of unethical labor in manufacturing.
Volunteering or donating to local anti-trafficking organizations is another good way to prevent human trafficking through increased awareness. These groups do so much to spread knowledge and increase awareness about human trafficking. They hold seminars and host speakers and flier on college campuses to get the word out about their cause. They also work to accept phone calls and tips about potential human trafficking cases. According to a report published by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, these groups fielded 426 calls, and reported over 100 human trafficking cases last year, in Texas alone. These groups cause a huge impact nationwide in the efforts to alleviate human trafficking. There is always work to be done here, so they greatly appreciate any extra resources or help that they can get.
Solution: The Victims
Victims of human trafficking undergo severe physical and psychological trauma. Many of the victims were brought by force to the United States. They often fear for their, or their families’, safety. The traffickers use physical violence to keep the victims subdued. The victims are also held like slaves, receiving little to no pay for the work they are forced to do.
The victims show symptoms of both psychological and physical distress.
- shame and embarrassment
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- depression, anxiety, and tendencies of suicide
- physical trauma
- infectious diseases like HIV, AIDS, or other STDs
- injuries from factory work
- illness that comes from poor sanitation
- and more
It is important to treat the victims of human trafficking as victims, not criminals. As previously mentioned, many of the victims are illegal imports. Instead of threatening them with deportation, their rescuers need to reassure them that they are safe and take care of their physical and psychological wounds. The same goes for children who run away from home. They often run away for a reason, and sending them back without questioning helps the traffickers get away with it. In the article Selling the Girl Next Door, Police Sgt. Grant Snyder from Minneapolis talks about meeting a 16 year old runaway and sending her back home. During the next two years, he found and sent her home four more times. Finally he asked her why she kept running to which she responded, “Why do you keep sending me home?” This helped start a revival in the way the police handled runaways, treating them like victims.
The FBI has also started to change the way they handle victims. They have started an assistance program called the Office for Victim Assistance. The OVA provides resources for victims. On the homepage of the Office for Victim Assistance it states that the OVA’s mission is to “treat victims with respect and provide them with assistance.” This is both to help the victim and for the FBI to have a greater chance of catching the traffickers. The FBI has begun taking a victim-centered approach to handling human trafficking cases. According to the FBI website, victim specialists “work closely with agents to ensure that potential victims of trafficking are rescued, transferred to safe locations, and provided with referrals for medical, mental health, housing, legal, and other necessary services.” Along with federal sources to contact, there are also state hotlines to call or send information to.
Non-government groups are also helping the victims adjust to life once they’ve escaped or been rescued.
Social workers are trained in how to treat victims. An obstacle social workers and others who treat the victims face is gaining the victims’ trust. They work on micro and macro levels. So anywhere from individuals or families to whole communities. They can often provide therapy for the victims. The Journal of International & Comparative Law states that “social work may be of assistance in designing programs, responses, or training law enforcement, legal professionals, and other providers in ways to approach victim survivors.” In other words, social workers help to bridge the gap between the victims and those that can catch their captors.
Something the public can do to help the victims is to help spread word about it. People don’t like to talk about human trafficking, and it’s understandable why. It’s definitely not a pleasant topic. But keeping silent does not help the victims. So if anyone notices possible signs of human trafficking, they need to let someone know. Even a quick google can pull up dozens of places to report it. It’s better to be safe than sorry, better to have the police go to an innocent home than let someone get away with keeping another person as a slave.
FBI. FBI, 19 Apr. 2010. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/victim_assistance>.
Palmer, Nancie. "The Essential Role Of Social Work In Addressing Victims And Survivors Of Trafficking." ILSA Journal Of International & Comparative Law 17.1 (2010): 43-56. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Smolowe, Jill, et al. "Selling The Girl Next Door." People 80.25 (2013): 80. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
"Targeting Traffickers, Helping Victims." FBI. FBI, 11 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2013/january/targeting-human-traffickers-helping-victims>.
"20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking." U.S. Department of State. U.S.
Department of State, 9 Apr. 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
"Human Trafficking 101." Dhs.gov. Department of Homeland Security, 28 Feb. 2014.
Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
"My Footprint / Slavery Footprint." My Footprint / Slavery Footprint. Slavery Footprint,
22 Apr. 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
“Texas.” National Human Trafficking Resource Center. 27 October 2014. Web. 23 April
Helping you visualize the impact of Human Trafficking
Countries all around the world, comply with the TVPA (Trafficking Victims Protection Act) which does not mean that those countries have eliminated trafficking. There are certain solutions that are different for each corresponding country.
As you can see from the map below, the TVPA grades each country around the world on how well they comply with the standards set to help reduce human trafficking.
Fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) standards. These are the countries in green.
Do not fully comply with the TVPA’s standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. These are the countries in yellow.
The number of victims is very significant. There is no evidence that countries are making significant efforts to improve based on their commitments over the next year. (WL = watchlist) The WL countries are the ones in orange.
Do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. Red countries mean you do not fully comply and are not making significant efforts to do so.
Helping the situation in the United States
The quiz asks you things like if you are a college student, what kind of food you buy from the store to make up your diet, and other things so specific to the amount of jewelry you own.
This is a prime example of how we can become more fully aware of the situation. By using certain brands, and even eating certain foods, we almost encourage the human trafficking business.
The Huffington Post did an article saying how LA Art students spread awareness through art.
The article quotes students saying “members of the Artist Team were alarmed to discover that slavery has existed since the beginning of human commerce -- and continues today”.
We are always surrounded by horrific things like Human Trafficking but we just need to become more aware of it.
The picture to below represents one of their projects. This is a novel idea on how to "wake up" American society to the fact that human trafficking still exists in the United States today. Hopefully with continued awareness through projects like these and websites such as Slavery Foot Print, we can push human trafficking completely out of the United States.
What it looks like in other countries
Looking back at the Guardians map, there are tons of “failing” countries like Russia, Libya, Thailand, and Qatar.
Countries such as these are do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do anything differently.
For example, in June 2014, the U.S. downgraded Thailand because after investigation, they were found to have a no better Trafficking in Persons Report than North Korea.
They found that slaves are forced to work on Thai fishing boats for no pay, and under threat of extreme violence.
The Guardian writes “the American censure comes amid widespread criticism of Thailand and Qatar, following two investigations that exposed repugnant conditions of slavery in both countries”.
Visualization Work Cited
- Bush, Bill. "LA Artists Propose Solutions to Human Trafficking Through Art: This Artweek.LA (April 20, 2015)." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-bush/la-artists-propose-soluti_b_7110942.html>.
- Hodal, Kate. "US Demotes Thailand and Qatar for Abysmal Human Trafficking Records." The Guardian. N.p., 20 June 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fglobal-development%2F2014%2Fjun%2F20%2Fthailand-qatar-downgraded-human-trafficking-report>.
- Kelly, Annie. "Human Trafficking Modern-day Slavery in Focus." The Guardian. N.p., 20 June 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fglobal-development%2Fng-interactive%2F2014%2Fjun%2F20%2Fcountries-worst-record-human-trafficking>.
- "My Footprint / Slavery Footprint." My Footprint / Slavery Footprint. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://slaveryfootprint.org/my-footprint#results>.