A Tangled Web of Human Trafficking

Posted: September 13, 2017 in Human Trafficking Is...

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Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime worldwide. As organizations, non-profits, and concerned citizens join together to eradicate this plight, we must also understand the factors that contribute to this epidemic. Human trafficking is not a single entity to be cut down but a web of intertwining problems, underground roots that need to be dug up, brought to light and acknowledged for what they are, contributors to a massive problem.

Prostitution

6355388579_0312787bde_mMore women and girls in the U.S. are forced into prostitution (sex trafficking) than into other form of trafficking. Pimps (traffickers) use force, fraud, and/or coercion to intimidate, persuade, manipulate, whatever it takes, to get the victim to perform sexual acts (sometimes becoming the victim of violence) with stranger after stranger after stranger. Victims are mentally and often physically abused if they don’t comply. While there are a few women that choose prostitution as a means of income, most women are on the streets or in a brothel against their will.

Most women only live about seven years once the enter a “life” of prostitution. The mental and physical abuse they endure, from both their trafficker and their “clients”, often cause the victim to succumb to an early death.

Pornography

kid20on20laptop20with20shocked20facePornography is a billion dollar industry…that’s billion…with a “B”! Most pornographic material is professionally made, at least it used to be, but amateur videographers/photographers are on the rise. Traffickers are using the internet to profit from the abuse and rape of their victims.

Several porn “stars” have come forward exposing the graphic violence they’ve endured in the name of “free press” or “free expression”. They are often humiliated, abused, tortured, raped,  and subjected to the vilest of things imaginable.

Large Sporting Events

pexels-photo-270085Large, highly attended sporting events are a mecca for human trafficking, both for the solicitation and the recruitment for sex trafficking. With the up-coming Olympics as well as yearly events like the Super Bowl, and the World Cup, local police and human trafficking task force members notice a significant jump in online sex ads, hotline tips, prostitution and pimping arrests and other illegal activity.

Social Media

pexels-photo-359757With so many children and young adults using an average of three social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat, etc.) predators have also turned to social media to scout for their next victim. Predators hide behind their fake online ID and manipulate children into acts they normally wouldn’t do (sexting) only to later blackmail them into more and more obscene and heinous acts (sextortion). They threaten to expose the child/teen to friends and family if they don’t comply with their sickening fetishes. These children often fall into a spiral of self loathing, shame, embarrassment, hopelessness, and in a few cases despair resulting in suicide.

Here is an article that suggests a way to end the battle of human trafficking against online sex ads.

Online Gaming

Two players playing video games on TV at homeWith online gaming, through PCs, smartphones, and gaming systems becoming more prevalent, so is the presence of traffickers. They use online gaming to expose unsuspecting players to pornography (through pop-up ads) as well as chatting with gamers, feigning friendship or romantic relationship and eventually encouraging them to meet in real life.

Foster Care

pexels-photo-295208Every year 23,000 children age out of foster care (age out: child turns 18 years old and the foster parent(s) are no longer paid by the government to support the child). Many of these “adults” are still in high school and are now homeless and have no support system. They are turned loose on the streets and right into the hands of traffickers happily waiting for them.

A solution to the foster care crisis is adoption. Most people have a misunderstanding of the adoption process. Adoption myths must be debunked and made widely known so more loving adults will be inclined to adopt and give a deserving teen a forever home.

                     “A child is never too old for a loving, forever family”

Another problem with the foster care system that needs to be addressed is the human trafficking that happens within the foster care system. More social workers are needed who know and recognize the signs of human trafficking and monitor the 428,000 children currently in the foster care system here in the U.S. Though not occurring at phenomenal rates, children and teens do fall through the government’s cracks and are placed in abusive homes and are sometimes trafficked by the same people who promised to care and provide for them.

cocoa-man-colombia-peasant-50707Forced Labor

Worldwide forced labor makes up 68% of all reported human trafficking cases. Forced labor/labor trafficking includes:

  • agriculture
  • construction
  • domestic work
  • manufacturing
  • door-to-door sales
  • restaurants
  • carnivals
  • health & beauty services

Labor trafficking happens in every state, in every country. It is so hidden in plain sight many do not even know a trafficked victim when they see one. There are signs to watch for but each victim is different and some don’t show visible signs of trafficking.

As consumers, one way to combat labor trafficking is simply looking for the label “fair trade”. All products displaying that label claim to have no labor trafficking in any part of their product production. Check out Slavery Footprint to learn more about how labor trafficking impacts how your favorite products are made.

Laws and Legislation

pexels-photo-534204As knowledge and awareness regarding human trafficking increases, so do laws regarding human trafficking. Right now there are still too many law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and jury members across the country that do not have adequate information regarding human trafficking.

As citizens, we can support legislation by:

  • Signing petitions for tougher sentencing, safe harbor laws, and to raise the age for aging out of foster care to 21.
  • Attend court proceedings to show support for the prosecution and the victim (many of whom have no support other than their lawyer and social worker)
  • Attend town hall meetings with local government officials and discuss what they are doing locally to combat human trafficking
  • Learn as much as you can about the topics discussed in this article
  • Share what you learn with everyone (including this website)
Ignorance

pexels-photo-97077In a day & age where information is a mouse-click away, ignorance should be a thing of the past. Movies & TV shows (Criminal Minds, Burn Notice, and American Crime to name a few) have used human trafficking as their “hot topic” for years now. It surprises me when someone admits they’ve never heard of human trafficking.

Just about everyone has heard of prostitution, pornography, and slavery…human trafficking is all those things and more. We must not close our eyes and shove this dark, heinous secret into a shadowed corner. We must drag it out into the light. We must talk about it openly and honestly with everyone. We must take power away from the traffickers and place it into the hands of the victims. They must have a voice and they can’t have one if we don’t acknowledge the problem.

Demand

man-person-hands-coffeeMany supporters of prostitution, legal or not, explain their defense as “prostitution has always been around and will continue indefinitely for there will always be a demand for it.”

How do we lessen or stop the demand of those wishing to purchase sex?

In one article, men actually believed they were helping the women by purchasing sex from them and were surprised to learn prostitution is not a victimless crime. “John Schools” are one way the U.S Justice Department is trying to bring awareness and decrease demand of prostitution.

Cyberbullying

pexels-photo-220357Cyberbullying is involved with human trafficking in two different ways.

1. Children are bullied causing them to feel bad about themselves. They feel depressed, anxious, or even suicidal. Enter trafficker. The trafficker makes them feel loved, special, beautiful and important then uses that superficial, artificial bond to exploit the child.

2. Another way is through sextortion. A trafficker will manipulate and coerce the victim overtime into producing more and more compromising images (photos and videos) of themselves that are shared through private chats, texts or emails. The trafficker threatens to expose the victim by sharing the erotic and inappropriate media to others, including friends and family, if the victim ever tries to stop. There are even cases of victims being photographed or video taped without their knowledge or consent. The victim is left shattered, embarrassed, humiliated and most importantly, hopeless. They give into the traffickers demands endlessly.

Gangs & Organized Crime

4221340262_f7f7bbd5d1_mHuman trafficking is so lucrative organized crime is wedging in on the action. Guns and drugs can only be sold once, but a human being can be sold over and over and over and over…

 

 

Victim Assistance

pcqreqe9iVictim Assistance does so much to help victims of human trafficking. However, they often don’t have the funding or resources to help enough. The government is slowly increasing it’s acknowledgement of human trafficking and with it, hopefully, money and manpower. They can’t rescue victims if they have no place to put them or resources to educate them so they can earn a living. Many rescued victims were children when they became victims, some from abusive home to which they cannot return, are scarred by the trauma they’ve endured and are in need of counseling.

What can you do?

  • Support organizations that help human trafficking victims such as Salvation Army. You can make direct donations to the organization or through Amazon Smile.
  • Find local nonprofit organizations in your community that help victims of human trafficking at volunteermatch.org and justserve.org.
  • Hold a garage sale, car wash or talent show and donate the money to a local human trafficking awareness organization.
Homelessness and Poverty

gloomy-mystical-style-mood-159069People living in poverty or homelessness are often more susceptible to human traffickers. They are more apt to be exploited as they are often desperate, hopeless, mentally ill, and/or addicts. Some victims sell themselves simply to survive, trading sex acts for food or shelter. Others to feed a drug or alcohol addiction they can’t control on their own.

In several third world countries, families are manipulated into selling their children to traffickers who promise to give the child a better life. Unbeknownst to the family they have sold their child into a life of slavery.

conclusionIn Conclusion

So what does one do with all this overwhelming information?

  1. Educate yourself and those you love. By knowing these dangers exist you have already decreased your chances of falling victim to traffickers and their ploys.
  2. Parental controls – download or install software on all your internet connected devices. Monitor your child’s online behavior. Get to know their friends (children under 12 shouldn’t be “online friends” with anyone they don’t know in real life).
  3. Make sure your children know you love and value them. If you don’t, they’ll find someone else who will and that someone could be a trafficker.
  4. Keep an open line of communication with your children and teenagers. They need to know they have someone in their corner.

 

 

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