Here is what slavery looks like today
Slavery was eradicated in the United States in 1865, but a new form of slavery exists today. Although it may be the single most important societal problem we face, human trafficking is not recognized as it should be. It is the fastest-growing industry in organized crime in the world. No one is immune - women, men, and even small children, are victimized Every. Single. Day. Nevertheless, it is rarely spoken about or reported in the news. Because of this, people have misconceptions of human trafficking. They confuse it with people being smuggled across the border, or being physically forced into labor. However, the definition of human trafficking is any recruitment, transportation, or harboring of a person, by force, fraud, or coercion, to be used for the purpose of labor or sexual exploitation. A person does not need to be forcibly held to be a victim. Oftentimes, it is a psychological entrapment, and the victim has been manipulated to believe they have no way out of their situation.
Human trafficking is the fastest-growing industry in organized crime worldwide.
Frequently, a young girl is roped into the life of human trafficking by a man who woos her and enters into a romantic relationship with her, or even by simply promising her such a relationship. The girl is lavished with gifts, love, and promises that the guy has no intentions of keeping. These traffickers are called “Romeo Pimps,” or “lover-boys.” They often use blackmail and violence to intimidate their victims and gradually make them dependent. Along with forcing the young girl to work as a prostitute, they may coerce her into transporting drugs or stealing. It is a vicious cycle that is nearly impossible to escape.
This is where I found myself around the age of 20. I had no idea what was happening, much less that it could even happen to someone like me.
As a victim and survivor of trafficking, I can personally attest that trafficking is overlooked, underestimated, and has become normalized. Despite the increased rate of human trafficking on an international scale, it is ignored because people do not want to believe that it is happening in their own backyard. As a result, the epidemic does not receive the attention it deserves, resulting in the exacerbation of the issue. This widespread problem has widespread consequences that span from the individual to society as a whole.
I never realized the prevalence of human trafficking in my area. Until I was standing in a room full of buyers, half of whom I recognized, I had no idea that trafficking was something that happened near me. Although I didn’t realize it until much later, I recognized the reality of trafficking when I stood naked in the center of a room, listening to people bid on what they thought a night with me was worth. When you begin to realize that human trafficking is not a foreign concept and that it often involves respectable people in a community, such as police officers and pastors, it really begins to shake you to your core.
Stopping human trafficking starts with recognizing that it’s a large scale problem that affects all of us.
Stopping this epidemic starts with recognizing that human trafficking is a large-scale problem that affects all of us. Because it affects all of us, every single person can help end it. It all boils down to whether or not people are willing to take the first step to learn about the red flags of trafficking and report their suspicions to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. We often see women and children in the street and automatically assume that they are in “the life” by choice. We turn our heads and walk away. We do not take the time to consider that a lot of them are forced and are in fear. Together, we can wake society up to the reality of human trafficking. Together, we can stop this epidemic.
About the Author
Hannah Blair is a psychology major with an end goal of counseling survivors of human trafficking, such as herself. She is currently pursuing a certification in Biblical counseling and is excited to be a part of Dressember! She enjoys running, cooking, and most importantly, napping.