By Amy Cortina
Human trafficking generates $150 billion in annual profit; this makes it the world third largest illegal market, trailing closely behind the narcotics market. Humans are used as the product for this rapidly growing industry; many believe that slavery was abolished 151 years ago but we are currently living in the era of modern day slavery. Most people associate human trafficking with smuggling people into a country but humans are also trafficked for other reasons such as forced labor, organ extraction, and for sex exploitation.
This market targets both males and females, victims can range from newborns to people in their mid- thirties. This is a worldwide phenomenon and despite efforts from the United States and other international governments this problem continues to grow. President Obama appointed 11 human trafficking survivors to the very first U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking in efforts to find new strategies to combat human trafficking.
The President stated, “Today, we continue the long journey toward an America and a world where liberty and equality are not reserved for some, but extended to all. Across the globe, including right here at home, millions of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. We remain committed to abolishing slavery in all its forms and draw strength from the courage and resolve of generations past.”
Through prevention and awareness Obama is aiming to not only reduce the rapid growth of human trafficking, but also eradicate it.
Most people dismiss the idea of human trafficking because they think it is unlikely to occur to them. Many acquire their information based on movies they watch, for example the movie Taken tells the story of a teenager being abducted for the purpose of becoming a product in the sex industry, this movie associated human trafficking with going to an unknown country or place. However, trafficking can occur everywhere and to anyone.
Jessica, a human trafficking victim was one of many to share their story to shed light on this crime. Her purpose was to bring it out of the shadows and show the public ways in which you can be recruited for the market. “At first, I thought he was my boyfriend. Then he convinced me to have sex with strangers to make money. He was my pimp. I was 15 years old. I was being advertised on the Internet and sold for sex to support my boyfriend.” As a way for citizens to understand that this can affect anyone, the U.S. Department of State published this in the Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 which provides survivors a way to expose the trauma they endure but also alert governments worldwide that human trafficking is here and they can’t look away anymore.
Governments are now teaming up against a crime that they believed would dissolve or die down. They believe that in order to halt this market, the public needs to wake up to this issue. This not a made up issue and it’s around us whether we want to see it or not. Victims are enduring unnecessary torture and pain, as human beings we are always told we have free will and the ability to decide. However, some have been stripped of those basic rights and turned into profitable slaves. Join the fight and learned how you can make a difference for a victim.