Millions Being Trafficked
As you read this, millions of women, men and children around the world are subject to the harsh reality of being trafficked. Awareness of human trafficking has gathered momentum in recent years and is now one of the key issues being addressed by governmental bodies both internationally and in the United States. In November, the Walk Free Foundation estimated that globally nearly 36 million people live as slaves, have been trafficked into brothels, or forced to work for little or no pay as victims of debt bondage or servitude by birth (2014 Global Slavery Index Report); and recently President Barack Obama declared January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Searching for Answers
A simple search for “human trafficking” reveals the extent to which the issue has spread and the various ways it is being address. Pope Francis recently urged people of all faiths and cultures to unite to put an end to slavery and human trafficking in a speech in the Philippines: “all of us are called [by God] to be free, all are called to be sons and daughters, and each, according to his or her own responsibilities, is called to combat modern forms of enslavement. From every people, culture and religion, let us join our forces.”
Ready to stand up and take action?
A Problem Everywhere
Human trafficking is a major problem and it helps to define what exactly it is; the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines human trafficking as:
A. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age, or
B. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”
Human trafficking can take many forms, such as domestic servitude; factory labor that resembles prisons; farm work by migrants. Recently war has created a new market for traffickers to exploit Syrians refugees feeling the war that has torn apart their country – in many cases these migrants pay a fee to board a ship and are at the whim of their smugglers; horrifically, many are being abandoned at sea and left for dead.
Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)
Domestic minor sex trafficking occurs when U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident minors (under the age of 18) are commercially sexually exploited. Children can be commercially sexually exploited through prostitution, pornography, and/or erotic entertainment.
The age of the victim is the critical issue — there is no requirement to prove force, fraud, or coercion was used to secure the victim’s actions. The law recognizes the effect of psychological manipulation by the trafficker, as well as the effect of threat of harm which traffickers/pimps use to maintain control over their young victims.
Educate, Take Action
Shared Hope is working hard to address the issue of human trafficking and is a leader in combating one of the most vehement forms: domestic minor sex trafficking. Shared Hope’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month page now provides ample opportunities to get involved in the fight against human trafficking. Take a stand and join the fight to end trafficking today.
Some signs that an individual is being trafficked:
- Signs of physical abuse such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
- Unexplained absences from class
- Less appropriately dressed than before
- Sexualized behavior
- Overly tired in class
- Withdrawn, depressed, distracted or checked out
- Brags about making or having lots of money
- Displays expensive clothes, accessories or shoes
- New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as a way to brand victims. Tattoos of a name, symbol of money or barcode could indicate trafficking)
- Older boyfriend or new friends with a different lifestyle
- Talks about wild parties or invites other students to attend parties
- Shows signs of gang affiliation? (ie: a preference for specific colors, notebook doodles of gang symbols, etc.)
Visit Shared Hope’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month Take Action page.