When we think about slavery and cruelty inflicted upon humans most of us think back to the early history of our country. Most of us wouldn’t even dream of slavery and the trafficking of people happening in the United States today. The truth is, right now in our country, maybe even in your own town, human beings are being trafficked into forced labor and prostitution.
Human trafficking is a $10 billion industry. Anywhere from 700,000 to two million people are being forced into labor and prostitution each year. Though men, women and children are all being trafficked most of them are women and children.
How is it that the numbers and facts about this issue are so undeniable but yet not many people know about it? Why do we pay attention to such trivial issues like the balloon boy when tragedies like this are going on in our backyard? What is being done about it and what can we do about it?
Even though any person could be at risk of being trafficked, groups of people with limited rights and protection are at the highest risk. Disadvantaged minority groups are hardest hit with these problems.
The hardest thing about dealing with trafficking is that it is not just happening in one area. Society’s economic and political forces have a big influence on human trafficking. Societies that devalue the life of a human being or view their citizens more as property than people are more likely to be involved in human trafficking because they can capitalize on a person’s lessened self-esteem and vulnerability.
Lack of employment options, increased economic disparity and rapid and severe economic decline in some countries are some of the main reasons trafficking occurs. These people in rebuilding countries are promised by slave traders that they will get good jobs and paint a great picture for their victims. Because they are poor and have hope for a better life they want to believe what they are told, unaware of what lies ahead of them.
Countries are minimizing social spending in order to put more money towards restructuring their economies. Advances in information technology around the world have made it easier for profits from criminal activity to be transferred and laundered. Many countries are also trying to reduce the cost of production, which leads to abusive labor practices and in most cases, slavery-like practices. Corruption in government and economic migration are also major causes of trafficking around the globe.
So how can we help to prevent this global problem? Trafficking can be lessened and prevented by economic development in poor countries. There also has to be a big change in our immigration system so people can legally come to our country to fill needed jobs and be able to live a better life than what they had. They should not have to submit themselves to dangerous illegal immigration to meet our country’s labor needs. When you are desperate to change your life circumstances it is easy to make decisions that could be detrimental.
We have the ability to create change and to make sure that people can come to our “land of opportunity” and have a chance like most of our ancestors had. We can lobby our Congress to fix the broken immigration system and not just build a high fence. We can lobby for long-term development to aid these poor countries that put people at risk. We can lobby for HIV/AIDS drugs to poor countries so that fewer children become orphan’s and vulnerable to exploitation.
We can’t deny that this is going on in our country and around the world. Even though it is extremely hard to stop trafficking as a college student we can still take action. Getting this issue out there for people to hear is an important first step in combating it. Our generation has the ability to get educated and make a difference. We have the power to do something and the responsibility to be aware.
To learn more about human trafficking and how you can join the fight against it visit the Catholic Relief Service’s site, www.crs.org and search for global migration and human trafficking. Also visit NotForSaleCampaign.org.