This post is by Ryan Brooks. Ryan was a guest on The Different is Beautiful Show on June 17, 2015. You can watch Ryan’s segment below…
First, what is Human Trafficking?
What (Act): Recruit/Transport/Harbor/Obtain a person
How (Means): Threat or use of force/fraud/coercion
Why (Purpose): Exploitation: Sexual exploitation/forced
labor/removal of organs/etc.
Fastest Growing Criminal Enterprise
As awareness has increased, the statistics on human trafficking are widely varied. What does seem to be consistent is that human trafficking is one of the fastest growing illegal businesses. The International Labour Organization estimates that it is a $150 billion a year industry. The same report by the ILO in 2005 said it was a $30 billion a year.
The disparity is two fold; lack of statistical information and policy decisions. Certainly human trafficking did not just increase by 500% in 10 years. However, it is becoming far more prevalent as the demand for cheap labor and sex increase. As government and international organizations allocated resources, our statistics have become more definite.
The problem has been a lack of locally focused solutions. This industry is growing so rapidly because it manifests itself differently in every part of the world. What we see in New Jersey is different than what happens in Eastern Europe. With that comes a variety of solutions that have to be employed.
Child Exploitation Constitutes a Large Part of the Industry’s Success
The financial success of human traffickers is due in large part to their use of highly susceptible groups of society, namely children. Of the approximately 20.9 million victims worldwide, 5.5 million are children. Girls make up 2 out of every 3 victims according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Unfortunately, there are a few growing myths about human trafficking, namely that it does not occur in the U.S. Polaris Project estimates that nearly 244,000 children in the U.S. are at risk for sexual exploitation. In the U.S., the average age at which a girl becomes a victim of prostitution, therefore a victim of human trafficking, is between the ages of 12 & 14 years old. In many cases these children go on to become adult prostitutes and no longer get the benefit of the juvenile rehabilitation system. (It is definitely time for a nation-wide evaluation on U.S. prostitution laws, but that is a topic for another day).
Internet Freedom’s Dark Side
There is an unfortunate negative to unregulated Internet access here in the U.S. Anyone that ever saw Craigslist’s “Adult Services” section knows exactly why this is the case. Would it be easier to promote your prostitution ring on a street corner in plain view or anonymously on a backwater job board website? While Craigslist has since removed this section of their website, sites like Backpage.com still regularly use them. Moreover, they make a significant chunk of their income from their adult services job boards.
Backpage in particular has been widely successful at fighting judicial and legislative enactments that would hold them accountable for sex based ads on their website. They have won many of these decisions citing the First Amendment among other constitutional provisions. The fact is, the American population is not in a place where they want to see the government take control of the Internet. That is fine, so long as the American public takes responsibility to self regulate. Which takes me to my next point . . .
Defines Our Society
There is a saying in many team sports that goes like this: “You are only as good as your weakest player.” It makes for a cogent remark about our society. As a society we are only as good as our worst evil. The exploitation of people is something that the United States is far too familiar with.
Human trafficking, i.e. slavery, is second only to the drug trade. What excuse do we have for turning away from its effects on our communities? “Drugs only negatively impact the user” is how we begin the justifications for its prevalence. We distance ourselves from the problems and since most of us are not directly impacted it is a pretty easy thing to do.
What does it say about our society that we allow slavery to exist?