Modern-day slavery. What one would hope to be an oxymoron proves to be a real and terrifying threat to our society. Unfortunately, this gross injustice is driven by human demand. Where there is a customer base, there is an opportunity for economic gain. Where there is a demand, there is someone willing to supply it. From sweat shops to brothels, enslavement has many faces. How do we address this concept of slavery in the 21st century? What is our role as global citizens in bringing to light this crime that is happening both in foreign countries and right under our noses?
Before answering these questions, it's important to know the facts about human trafficking. Here are some ideas to think about when addressing modern-day slavery and human trafficking:
- According to the United Nations, the definition of human trafficking is ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of abuse of power or vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.’
- After the drug and weapons trade industries, human trafficking is the fastest growing illegal trade worldwide.
- Modern day slavery occurs in every country around the world without exception as places of origin, transit or destination.
- The trafficking of individuals is a profitable source of income for transnational criminal groups as it generates an average of $32 billion per year.
- The global average cost for a trafficked person is $90 USD.
- Currently an estimated 27 million men, women, and children are enslaved across the globe.
- Sexual exploitation accounts for 53% of all trafficking, while 40% represents forced labor.
- The average age of a human trafficking victim is 12 years old.
- The psychological, physical, and emotional effects of human trafficking are severe. Victims often experience both sexual and physical abuse, live in poor conditions, receive threats regarding their family members should they fail to follow orders, and are often thrown into dangerous work environments. (Source: Hodge, David. "Assisting Victims of Human Trafficking: Strategies to Facilitate Identification, Exit from Trafficking, and the Restoration of Wellness." Social Work 59.2 (2014): 111-18. Print.)
- These individuals are often forced to work in places like brothels, massage parlors, sweatshops, nail salons, and local restaurants.
- Only 1-2% of victims are rescued.
- The process of former victims reintegrating back into society is one that poses many challenges. Survivors are known to experience high levels of anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hostility, substance abuse, suicide, and other forms of self-harm. (Source: Brunovskis, A., and R. Surtees. "Coming Home: Challenges in Family Reintegration for Trafficked Women." Qualitative Social Work 12.4 (2013): 454-472.)