The Merriam-Webster defines human trafficking as criminal activity that goes on in a very official manner and the consequence of which is the treatment of humans as property and exploiting them by forcing them into activities like prostitution and involuntary labor. Human traffickers are people that we see at large quite frequently without realizing it in the New York and the sad part of the fact is that we come in touch with countless victims of human trafficking. Amongst the many people who sadly remain just characters of stories unknown is the story of Mark. Mark was a successful sales person in his own country Philippines and held a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Because of the political situation in his own country, Mark gathered what little money he had and also leaned on very high interest loans to legally enter the United States.
Mark along with 8 other people was forced to stay in a room that had no air conditioner, no heating system, and no ventilation. He worked long hours without the incentive of overtime and was paid what little wages were allocated to his name on a very non-timely basis. Upon complaining, Mark was always threatened with a promise of being deported. There are many people like Mark residing in the United States, who work in conditions that are hardly fit for any person to work in. These people are victims in their own country, and when they come to seek refuge in the US, they are again treated like what we call the modern day slaves.
Why human trafficking is a problem the reason for which is plain and simple, it is the greatest violation of human rights possible. Since human trafficking involves the exploitation of people and using them as objects, it also covers the activity of actively selling people and receiving money for their exchange. These people could be then forced into sexual trades and also unfair labor. Of all the humans trafficked, two-thirds are women and girls, and they are recruited by threatening them in one way or another. This criminal activity is unfavorable not only for the people who enter the US through others who force them into something they are not willing to do, but could also put the US citizens in harm’s way and make them vulnerable to exploitation in the same manner.
Even though we are under the impression that we have been able to eradicate slavery, many people who are still living as slaves and the facts and figures reflect that there are more slaves in the world now than there were before in the human history. The same facts and figures state that very close to 15,000 people are trafficked into the US every year to use them as unwilling labor and for sexual activities. So another problem with human trafficking is that it promotes slavery and puts the victims in a very unfair position. Also, even though the people who enter the US through human trafficking are the actual victims, they are often thought of and treated as the criminals, and many of them could also be further victimized by the US legal system under the same perception.
Further, we may even face difficulty in getting to and helping the victims of human trafficking because many of the law enforcement officials and the police are very much confused about what human trafficking actually comprises of. Many are still under the perception that human trafficking only involves sexual crimes because of which, many of the trafficking crimes are being overlooked, and the victims continue to suffer in poverty and fear. Another quandary is that not all forms of trafficking in youngsters under the age of 18 are abusive, and this may make it hard for many people to recognize these victims and help them through their problems.
Human trafficking is wrong and eats at the US economy because it deprives many people living in the US, even though they are not citizens, to fend for themselves independently and become self-sufficient. They mostly rely on the same criminals for wages and shelter who keep them trapped in conditions that they would in normal circumstances choose not to be in. It is wrong because it promotes conditions where people are helpless and afraid without proper documentation to justify their presence in the US and without any actual skills that may provide promise for their future.
How is the state dealing with the problem of human trafficking as of now? The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was the very first law against human trafficking and was authorized in the year 2000 to help the victims. This law aimed at preventing human trafficking, protecting its victims and also at the punishment of the human traffickers. The same act was then reauthorized in 2003, 2005 and 2008 and each time, there were changes that aimed at combatting the problem in a better way every time. The act, however, expired during the year 2011 and now
needs to be updated to adapt to the current state and situation of human traffickers and the victims. At the state levels, the legislation is making widespread efforts at helping with the problem to every possible extent. Many improvements have been taking the form of Polaris Project and the Human Trafficking Taskforce. While a number of states are adopting laws to help, a number of them still have a lot to catch up on.
Despite all of these efforts, the problem is so widespread that there is still a lot that has to be done before we can even come close to putting a stop to it. The very first effort would be to encourage people to start making an effort on a smaller scale, in places where human trafficking could be identified more easily. The first step starts with learning. We have failed to a great extent because many of the people are yet to be made aware of what activities could be classified as human trafficking. So before we can actually go out and teach, it is important that we learn first. School education should include courses that make the students aware of human trafficking. The second step that follows is to spread the knowledge that has been acquired in this respect. Students especially can do a lot in raising that awareness by making the use of the social media and also through various co-curricula like rallies and petitions against the problem.
The same message could also be incorporated into films, documentaries and artwork to make the people more aware and at the same time to urge them to take action against human trafficking. Another way is to be aware and recognize the signs that might indicate that a certain individual is a victim of human trafficking. Because before we can help a person through the problem, it is crucial that we get to that person first. After identification, individuals or different groups could create systems where these victims could be reported, and steps could be taken to
help them live as legal citizens in the US and also to step out of the unfair practices and working conditions that are forced upon them. Parallel to that, we could also operate systems where the human traffickers could be identified and punished for their crimes. These are the people who should be converted into example so that no one else comes following in their footsteps.
Since all of these activities require funds, the efforts could be aided by various donations and fundraisers. The whereabouts of the things that we purchase at supermarkets and hotels could also be made more transparent by disclosing how much of these items come to exist because of human trafficking. After finding out, campaigning against these products and services could prove useful in putting a stop to human trafficking.
We can set out at all of these efforts with one pleasing picture in our minds, one where the world is a little more free of human traffickers and as a result, runs on a system that is a little more fair and promotes hard work and uniform compensation and acceptable conditions in exchange for that hard work. We have to dream about a society that runs under the management of people who have all the necessities of life and are under no pressure or undue fear from anyone or anything. The world like that is a possibility, and it just requires a little bit of effort on our parts to come a little closer to us.
Goldberg, Eleanor. 10 Things You Didn't Know About Slavery, Human Trafficking (And What You Can Do About It). 10 July 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/15/human-trafficking-month_n_4590587.html>.
Griselda Vega, Shandra Woworuntu. How workers have trafficked into the U.S. -- the ugly truth. 22 July 2015. <http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/22/opinions/human-trafficking-laws-u-s-/>.
Jesionka, Natalie. What's Being Done to Stop Human Trafficking? n.d. 03 February 2016 <https://www.themuse.com/advice/whats-being-done-to-stop-human-trafficking\>.
Keckemethy, Tom. Our Very Real Problem With Human Trafficking. 07 May 2015. <http://www.psmag.com/business-economics/five-studies-our-very-real-problem-with-human-trafficking>.
Merrian-Webster. human trafficking. n.d. 03 February 2016 <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/human%20trafficking>.
Regina. 16 Ways to Taking Action Against Human Trafficking. 30 November 2012. <http://16days.thepixelproject.net/16-ways-to-take-action-against-human-trafficking/>.