Human Trafficking Progression

“Human trafficking has many misconceptions. It involves a method of supply and demand and has become increasingly prevalent in today’s world. The complexity of this subject is unknown to many. Human trafficking happens within all countries, including more developed and less developed countries. Therefore, increased awareness and knowledge should be spread more influentially. Human trafficking is very exploitive. It involves but is not limited to: violence, coercion and threats, the transportation of people, forced labor, force participation, and forced sex work for others’ benefit. Human trafficking is more close to home than people realize; it’s all around us today. Globalization plays a huge role in the fast growing market for human trafficking. Understanding how the two topics relate could be the key to pinpointing the problem at hand, and possibly minimizing the amount of victims of human trafficking per year.

Awareness is the first and most important step towards developing a solution to any issue. If the majority of a population is unenlightened or uninformed on a matter, coming up with any sort of prevention is extremely difficult, if not impossible. So, the illusions of human trafficking need to be diminished. Human trafficking is not just the frequent scenario we hear about and see on television shows and movies. Those who have no experience or background knowledge on a certain subject usually allow the media to craft their understanding on said subject-which is a reality for many. Trafficking includes more than a pimp forcing girls into prostitution and sex trade. In fact, forced prostitution only makes up about 22% of all human trafficking occurrences. The majority, 68%, is forced labor (Noy Thrupkaew, Human Trafficking is All Around You). Even so, it isn’t usually just one person, or pimp, constructing the process of forced sex work. Although women and girls are commonly the victims of human trafficking (71% of the time) and are presumed more vulnerable, men and boys can be too (29%), but are often left out of discussion. Being poor is also seen as vulnerable to the human trafficking world. Vulnerability is a big target for traffickers.

Globalization has an undeniable connection to human trafficking. By definition globalization is: the increasing interconnectedness of people and places throughout the world through converging processes of economic, political, and cultural change, (Rowntree, Lewis, Price, Wyckoff G-5). Globalization has allowed for vast inequality of wealth in countries, which only continues to push people to go to extremes to find work. {As a result}, human trafficking has become more prevalent now than ever before, with estimates increasing from 20.9 million people enslaved in 2012 to 40.3 million in 2017, (The Correlation Between Globalization and Human-trafficking). Globalization is extremely pronounced in the economy of this world; human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business, At $150 billion a year, human trafficking is one of the largest global criminal enterprises (Our Hotels are Fighting Human Trafficking). When investing in or buying products for businesses, chains, corporations, etc., many don’t know what they’re actually supporting: exploitation, forced labor, cheap labor, dangerous working conditions, inhumane work hours, and so on. People living in less developed countries have minimal education and skills, making it hard to have a progressive work force in their country. More developed countries take advantage of this by having locations for their companies in multiple countries, usually less developed countries. This is multinational corporations. The population of the less developed countries are desperate for work and money, essentially leaving them no choice but to work for these corporations. Another factor of globalization that correlates significantly to trafficking is the internet. The internet has made it all the more effortless to lure individuals into being trafficked. This is especially notable to women, who are mainly the targeted audience for advertisements of promised jobs in foreign countries. The result is never what they expected, crime syndicates are notorious for their aplomb in identifying vulnerable females who entertain visions of a better life and may thus be more susceptible to deceptive job opportunities in a foreign country. Once they arrive in the destination country, it is often too late for these vulnerable women to escape the web of deceit as they are relegated to a life of slavery, (Globalization and Human Trafficking). From the moment a victims begins to have any connections with the human trafficking world that person is manipulated, controlled, or coerced. Those who have to migrate to American to find work are often seen as illegal immigrants, not as victims to human trafficking. It is also important to note that human trafficking doesn’t just occur in illegal/underground businesses or the black market. It exists everywhere, including legal business settings. Understanding these factors help analyze how common and current human trafficking is today.

When an issue arises, a person usually questions him/herself. The biggest question: inquiring whether or not they played a role in the issue. Do Americans play a role/condone in the forced labor of those in or from other countries? Is it our responsibility to be aware how the products and services we buy get to us? As a consumer in America, it should be up to us to know what we’re buying and what we’re supporting. For example, Walmart’s popularity, size, convenience, and low prices are what continue to intrigue Americans. Yet, Walmart isn’t necessarily all good for Americans, or those in foreign countries. Walmart capitalizes on these low prices, knowing it helps them to continue to draw in customers. However, these low prices come at a price themselves. Walmart purchases a large amount of it’s items from China. The laborers in China are underpaid and overworked, which makes it easier for Walmart to be able to sell it’s items at a low price while still making a great profit. Not only are the workers in foreign countries underpaid, but the actual Walmart employees are too. The CEOs make high amounts of money, giving only a small percentage to their workers. Also, with Walmart’s fast overturn, the demand for supplies puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the Chinese workers who are producing these supplies (Is Walmart Good for America). This is how supply and demand plays a huge position in human trafficking. Putting that into perspective Americans now have to ask themselves if buying products from Walmart is more positive than negative and if it aligns with their personal morals.

It is easy to state all the problems within globalization and how it relates to human trafficking, but it’s not as easy to come up with one big solution that fixes everything. As this paper discussed previously, knowing about the issue at hand, being able to inform others on the subject and researching the businesses we choose to support is important. If vast amounts of people know a certain company that treat workers poorly, perhaps force labor, then the community can come together to boycott that company and make it known that they know what’s happening. If a company loses extreme amounts of business due to demands of American people to change their ways, they may do so. Another tactic to implement to putting a halt to human trafficking is improving the criminal justice system in general. This means acknowledging the issue of the high numbers of law enforcement participating in human trafficking, prosecuting the right person, and adding new policies. There have been numerous cases of law enforcement officers being involced in human trafficking, child pornongraphy and trafficking, and prostitution. Those in a held position of power, who abuse their power, are very dangerous. In April 2016, A police officer employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District was charged with the attempted sex trafficking of a child and use of the Internet to induce a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, (A Number of Police Have Been Arrested for Human Trafficking). This is just one example. Fortunately, this officer was caught and charged before physical actions were made, but it doesn’t always work out like that. Charging the perpetrators of trafficking is a step in the right direction. Arresting women for prostitution and sex work is more damaging than helpful. It creates an image that the women are at fault, rather than the person(s) behind the whole scheme, and leads to victim blaming instead of helping the victim cope and get out. It also creates a cycle. Once these women get out of jail with a criminal record, they have nowhere to turn, again, and end up back out on the streets. Also, victims involved in human trafficking are much less likely to try to recieve help believing they could possibly be reprimanded for it.

After researching the topic, I have learned of a few warning signs to look out for. Signs that have to do with a potential victim’s mental health include: signs of substance use/abuse, anxiety, depressed, and being fearful of law enforcement. Physical warning signs are unexplained bruises and marks on victim’s body, lack of proper hygiene, sleep deprived and malnourishment. These signs aren’t necessarily specific to human trafficking, but do tell you something isn’t right. A person being unaware of the city they’re in, not being able to name the address of where they’re staying/living, having little to no knowledge on city’s whereabouts, has few person possessions, always being accompanied by a third party, and have a lost sense of time are all signs that relate more directly to human trafficking victims (Recognize the Signs). There is a human trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888) and a textline (text BeFree to 233733) available for those seeking help or for those trying to report human trafficking. If I suspected a possible human trafficking situation in Athens, Ohio, I would immediately report it to the authorities. I have once noticed signs of something that could have turned into a sexual assault situation. I saw a very intoxicated, nearly unconscious girl walking with a boy who had her in a close, tight grip to him walking on the sidewalks at a fast pace. They were alone and looked like they didn’t know each other. I approached them and acted as if I knew the girl, to give me a reason to approach them. I asked her if she knew the boy she was with. A red flag went off when she quietly told me ‘I don’t know, I’m not sure’, barely being able to speak. I asked the boy if he knew where she lived. He told me her dorm, without say anything else. I insisted that I would take her home and that he could leave. I’m not sure what his intentions were that night but by the way he ran off without saying much, it seemed like I interrupted him trying to take advantage of her. I think he got annoyed of delaying the process so he decided to just leave the situation altogether. If possible in a human trafficking situation and not dangerous, I would try to intervene and act like I know the suspected victim. I would try to just keep a conversation until I knew authorities arrived and could deal with it better than I could. Overall, people, myself included, should know the warning signs and look out for them. If you suspect something you should always report it.

The human trafficking epidemic in today’s world needs to be talked about. Stopping the silence will allow people to be aware. Awareness leads to change. It is also important to understand how globalization has made an incredibly negative effect on human trafficking. Globalization has put a divide between less developed and more developed countries, causing a corrupt system. Globalization isn’t all negative and may be necessary, but it entails huge concerns. There are many steps a community in general can put forward to reduce human trafficking. This includes knowing the warning signs and knowing how to report it. The issue has been suppressed for awhile, causing a major expansion. Now, we need to be willing to take that first step: educating ourselves, our friends and family, our neighbors, our community, our world, and insisting on change.

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