Earlier today, I came across the Trafficking In Persons Report from 2019. It is not light reading, but it is eye-opening and essential to learn what is going on amidst this time of political unrest and slanted news that somehow forgets to report on Human Trafficking.
The United States considers “trafficking in persons,” “human trafficking,” and “modern slavery” to be interchangeable umbrella terms that refer to both sex and labor trafficking.
Trafficking encompasses the following:
Child Sex Trafficking: Any child (under the age of 18) who has been recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, advertised, maintained, patronized, or solicited to engage in a commercial sex act is a victim of trafficking regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion is used.
Labor Trafficking: Encompasses the range of activities—recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining—involved when a person uses force or physical threats; psychological coercion; abuse of the legal process; a scheme, plan, or pattern intended to hold a person in fear of serious harm; or other coercive means to compel someone to work.
Debt Bondage: U.S. law prohibits the use of debt as coercion to compel a person’s labor. Some workers fall victim to traffickers or recruiters who unlawfully exploit an initial debt assumed as a condition of employment, while in certain countries some workers “inherit” the debt.
Domestic Servitude: Working in a private residence can create unique vulnerabilities, particularly because what happens in a private residence often is hidden from the world, and it is easy to isolate a worker in a private residence.
Unlawful Recruitment or Use of Child Soldiers: Child soldiering can be human trafficking when it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children—through force, fraud, or coercion—by armed forces as combatants or to carry out support roles such as cooks, porters, messengers, medics, or guards.
Look at trafficking around the world:
- In Brazil, victims join churches or religious cults and are forced to work on farms, factories, and restaurants.
- The lack of employment opportunities in Cambodia lead females in rural areas to find work in cities. There, they are exploited in sex trafficking through places like massage parlors and bars.
- In Ethiopia, traffickers lie and tell parents that their children will be sent to cities for work in homes where they will receive an education and wages.
- In India, some workers are trapped in debt bondage, forced into work with no end, and ongoing debt.
- Gangs in the United Kingdom (UK), force kids into carrying drugs.
- In the United States, trafficking happens in the foster care system. Reports have consistently shown that many victims of child sex trafficking were in the foster care system.
- The ongoing unrest in Yemen results in child recruitment and used as soldiers, some as young as 11 years old.
Even though work towards ending trafficking is happening on a global scale, more needs to be done.
Misperceptions about human trafficking slow down the process of helping women and children trapped in the world of trafficking.
From my experience, I have been told that child trafficking is a conspiracy and if kids are missing, why aren’t the parents speaking out? Why isn’t the news reporting on it? I was told that missing children’s reports are always inflated.
When does a conspiracy become reality? What can we do?
From the Trafficking In Persons Report:
“Empowering communities to recognize and address human trafficking
When the public views trafficking crimes as common local or cultural practices that do not warrant criminal investigation or prosecution, it is critically important for governments to raise awareness and foster initiatives for communities to help address it.
Public perceptions about human trafficking have a major impact on the way governments address it. If well informed about the various forms of human trafficking, the public can be the eyes and ears of their communities and can put pressure on law enforcement to make it a priority.”
As a community of caring and concerned citizens, we need to figure out how we can raise awareness about the prevalence of child trafficking and determine how to share information so this topic doesn’t remain a “conspiracy theory,” but a serious crime where thousands of voices need to be amplified and heard.