Young women and children around the world are increasingly falling victim to human trafficking, a heinous crime that was once unfathomable in First World societies. However, as new technologies have progressed, so have the abilities and evil desires of criminal deviants.
These barbarians have chosen to use the Internet, among other resources, to steal, exploit, abuse, sell and murder helpless individuals. This sale and commercialization of innocent victims has spread like a parasite, stretching into nations where this sort of crime was once a rarity.
The notion that any individual could be viewed and treated as a commodity for sale at the discretion of morally bankrupt criminals is monstrous, yet this is exactly what is happening around the globe.
For many Americans, the term “human trafficking” brings to mind shady adversaries in far-off lands who capture individuals and then sell them for the purposes of sex or manual labor. This perception is surely accurate, but this growing crime ring is no longer restricted to far-away lands. Today, modern-day slavery is as much of a reality in America as it is abroad.
While some may find it difficult to believe, American women and children are being exploited and sold into slavery. Recognizing this fact is paramount, as combating this social ill is going to become increasingly important, especially as technology enables criminals to find new ways to abduct and exploit the innocent.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines human trafficking as a “form of modern-day slavery” and confirms the notion that anyone—man, woman or child—has the potential to be victimized.
As noted by HHS, those individuals who find themselves trapped in this dangerous industry are subjected to “force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.” Victims are essentially made to produce or engage in a service against their will so that their “slave owners” (pimps, bosses, and the like) can financially benefit from their “work.”
Unlike those individuals who engage in criminal activities such as drug and weapons sales, these monsters choose to do so because they believe that abducting human beings provides a relatively renewable product. The children and young adults they capture are used and abused to the fullest capacity so that these degenerates can make optimal monies from the victims’ toils.
The situation in America is grim. According to the Justice Department, every year 300,000 American children are at risk of being enveloped into the commercial sex world. According to Stop Child Trafficking Now (SCTNow), “UNICEF values the global market of child trafficking at over $12 billion a year with over 2.5 million child victims.”
To make matters worse, trafficking is one of the fastest-growing criminal activities in the world. SCTNow explains that, “No matter the reason, children have become sexual commodities to be bought and sold for the pleasure of exploiters.” While this is clearly unacceptable anywhere in the world, it is especially appalling and abhorrent that it occurs in a nation that is regularly heralded as the sole beacon of freedom and hope.
For years, non-profit organizations have been working to stop predators from exploiting children and adults, alike. Each year, the State Department releases the “Trafficking in Persons Report,” an initiative intended to extensively document global government initiatives to prevent and stop modern-day slavery.
HumanTrafficking.org explains that the report’s “findings will raise global awareness and spur countries to take effective actions to counter trafficking in persons.” In what many non-profit professionals who work in the field see as an encouraging move, for the first time ever, the U.S. listed itself in the report this year.
While some may cast doubts on the full accuracy of America’s self-reporting (after all, it’s often difficult to comprehensively criticize one’s own policies), the nation’s own exploration into an issue that has received minimal publicity showcases a move in the right direction.
In the State Department’s official report, some intriguing demographic information was released. When considering the different types of forced labor victims of human trafficking are forced to engage in, a majority of U.S. citizens are forced into sex trafficking as opposed to labor trafficking; this proves true for both children and adults. Conversely, foreigners are generally more likely to be found in forced labor than they are in sex trafficking. According to the report, the villains who run these rings have a penchant for the helpless, as “U.S. citizen child victims are often runaway and homeless youth.”
For instance, take M.S., a young girl who was featured in an ABC News piece in May 2010. At the age of 12, M.S. met an older man with whom she became instantly enthralled. One day, the man asked her to go for a ride with him and she accepted. Her decision to accompany him would prove a mistake, as she was abducted and thrust into the ugly world of human trafficking.
According to ABC News, “For four years, M.S. was forced into child prostitution with four different pimps. She was taken from city to city, forced to have sex with random men against her will. She rarely got to keep any of the $1,500 she made every day. Instead, she was abused mentally and physically by both her pimps and other girls who he housed.”
This is just one of the thousands of stories that illustrate lives stolen and destroyed by greed and moral deficiency. Another ABC News story from 2006 provides some startling statistics. According to the network, the FBI estimated that more than 100,000 women and children fall victim to human trafficking in the U.S. Sadly, these women range from nine to 19.
This same story recounts the brutal abduction and subsequent abuse that another 15-year-old teen named “Debbie” endured (including being kept in a dog kennel and being forced to serve as a sex slave and prostitute). Debbie was a normal teenage girl from Arizona before her abduction—yet another American to fall prey to human trafficking.
According to Malika Saada Saar, the executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, human trafficking is a relatively new conundrum in America. Earlier this year, Saar wrote a piece for the Huffington Post in which she offered some reasons why America is now grappling with a formerly Third-World issue. In Saar’s view, the Internet has created a portal through which young girls can be commercialized.
She writes, “Young girls are the new commodities that traffickers and gangs are selling. And, there isn’t a culture of crime and punishment for selling girls as there is for selling illegal drugs. It is less risky, and more profitable (the girls are “reusable”), to traffic girls, instead of meth or crack.”
Understanding the nature of this issue is extremely important for all members of society. The notion that a free nation has this sort of criminal activity raging is horrific at best. Luckily, some excellent organizations like SCTNow are working diligently to stop predators in their tracks.
As citizens, we should be educated about this important issue, while engaging in discussions about how we can stop innocent members of society from being forced into servitude and slavery. Educating ourselves and getting involved to make viable change is the least we can do.