noun: human trafficking
the action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
Human trafficking is a growing issue in our nation today, though it has been a widespread problem for many, many years. It’s a tale as old as time. Beginning in the book of Genesis we read about Joseph, a descendant of Abraham falling victim to human trafficking at the hands of his own family.
Though forms of slavery existed way before the 1400s, the 1400s began the European slave trade in Africa, using the Portuguese to transfer people from their native home to do forced labor or other acts in an unknown country. From this point in history, many other countries became involved in human trafficking as well.
Today, human trafficking spans across 167 countries and an estimated 40 million people involved in some form of slavery. Human trafficking is a $32 billion per year industry. To put that in perspective, think about this: I’m sure almost everyone you know has at least one item in their home supporting some college football team, or we all know someone (or are the someone) who has been to a college football game. As prominent as college football is, especially in the South, the average revenue for this industry is only $10 billion per year. Human Trafficking triples that number and is something that affects each one of us, even if you haven’t realized it yet.
According to a report published by CNN, there is an average of 40 million slaves in the world today. While it’s incredibly hard to substantiate this number as this industry doesn’t bother itself with obvious rules and regulations, it’s also not hard to fathom either. It is estimated that the typical American household has an average of 54 slaves working for them.
How is this possible? The answer is easy. A majority of common household products made in other countries employ the use of child labor or bondservants.
What? Bondservants? Yes. Bondservants. The problem with being a bondservant is that more than likely they will never make enough money to pay off the “supposed” debt they owe.
Have you ever thought about who ACTUALLY makes the clothes you wear? Sure it’s easy to envision well-lit, and clean factory like environments, with happy adults who have a safe and regulated workspace. The reality is often the complete and total opposite. It’s hard for us as American’s to handle this information. It’s uncomfortable to fathom that perhaps a small child with unsafe working conditions and no access to medical care or education are the hands responsible for the shirt you are currently wearing.
The sad truth is that many modern-day slaves fell into this industry quite by accident. Traffickers are very crafty in how they recruit and then ultimately retain their slaves. Story after story has been told where freed slaves interviewed for a job and a chance to make money only to be taken to a different country away from all they know and held captive and forced to work gruelingly long hours. OR sadly parents are promised their children would have access to medical care and a free education (Or money sent home to the impoverished family) in exchange for some light work on the part of the child.
According to a cracked.com story, many of these slaves are recruited in other countries and then brought here to the US legally to work and then held captive, never to receive all the things they were originally promised.
Child labor and bondservants are only TWO of many kinds of human trafficking. We will tackle others forms of modern slavery in posts to come.
For now. How can you help? educate yourself in the signs that someone may be a slave.
-Behavioral signs include limited or no social interaction due to “spouse’s” request,
-Eager to work long hours, and the vibe of submissive and controlled movements.
-The more circumstantial information would be the inability to use or find, their identification papers or travel documents.
-Unwillingness to share their home address.
-Talk of limited contact with family outside of their immediate environment.
Social awkwardness and un-openess can also be signs of mental disabilities, so maybe don’t jump the gun and call the police by these limited descriptions. Try to make a true bond with the person you believe may be trafficked; make a kind effort to get to know more about them. After getting to know them, if you notice any “relationship” in their life seems unhealthy, ask why they stay? Do they feel in-debted? Is there something their spouse is holding as ransom? A child? Their family? In this case, encourage them to reach out to you and possibly the authorities.