Just as slavery, during the period of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, was fueled partly by consumerism, and a society that is based off of want and need, human sex trafficking, another form of slavery, is also fueled by a society surrounded around consumerism and instant gratification. The polarisproject.org, an organization that is known for trying to put an end to human trafficking, defined it as, “ a form of modern slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others.” It is somewhat assumed in our world that slavery is no longer a big issue and that it ended after the Trans-Atlantic slave trade period. However, this is not at all true and slavery has only increased. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade was just the start of slavery in America and many other forms of slavery have branched out of it since then, with human trafficking as a prime example. It started to become popular in the United States in the early 1900’s when women immigrants from other countries, who first came here looking for a better life, would be forced and deceived into prostitution.
Through the process of human sex trafficking, those who run the trafficking rings and brothels, who are usually very wealthy individuals, take advantage of poor and helpless women (predominantly) and children by deceiving them into the act and then forcing them to stay in the business. According to an online organization called http://www.sndohio.org, human sex trafficking victims mainly include: those with low income, low levels of education, young girls running away from home, people who have been kidnapped, ethnic minorities, refugees, and illegal immigrants. These women and children often have no where else to go, have no money or belongings to their name, do not have family, are tortured, and fear that if they try to escape that they will be killed. Unfortunately, the process of human sex trafficking does not allow these women and children to make better their lives, and they are forced to stay in poverty, while the traffickers are extremely wealthy and often live extravagant lifestyles. Even though there are some laws surrounding the issue and the issue has recently gained a lot of awareness and attention of the public, human sex trafficking is at an all time high and a very complex problem that is not being fixed, because it is a low risk and high profit industry. It is actually quite easy for traffickers to break these laws and not get caught.
In a society that values money, sex, and having what one wants when they want it, over the human lives involved in the process, it is easy to see why human sex trafficking is such a lucrative business. According to coverhouse.org, an organization that helps to restore the lives and bring refuge to those that have been affected by human sex trafficking, a single person who trafficks another person makes on average, $150,000-$200,000 per year just solely from exploiting one victim. With profits this high and a constant demand from individuals buying into these services, the process of human sex trafficking continues and the numbers of cases are increasing heavily and rapidly. Just as Hardt pointed out in the essay, Affective Labor, as society moves to the economic paradigm of the Toyotism Model, “production planning will communicate with markets constantly and immediately… commodities will be produced just in time, according to the present demand of the existing markets (Hardt 93).” This model reinforces the idea that a primary cause of human sex trafficking is societies want for instant gratification. This happens in the process of human sex trafficking when the person or persons trafficking victims makes the victims meet the wants of those who are buying into the crime.
For example, traffickers will force their victims to partake in sexual activities with “customers” any amount of times a day, as long as they are being paid and there is a demand or want for the victim. The traffickers will also make sure that they have enough victims to meet the demands of every customer, and sometimes a single sex trafficking ring can consist of hundreds of victims. Kathi Weeks stated in the essay, Life Within and Against Work, that, “The category of emotional labor, which ‘requires one to induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others’ (Weeks 240).” Not only is human sex trafficking is a form of coerced and free labor, but it is also a form of this said emotional labor, or affective labor, that Kathi Weeks is talking about. Human sex trafficking creates emotions and feelings from not only the victim who is being forced to take part in sexual activity, but also from the other person or persons who are paying to engage in the activity as well. The victims do not get any of the money that they make, but instead, it all goes to the traffickers and this is how it is free labor.
Therefore, with no money to their name, the victims are forced to stay in the business because they have no where else to go or no means to get anywhere else. This is just one way that human trafficking is a form of coerced labor. Another way that human trafficking is a form of coerced labor, is that the victims are physically and mentally abused so that they fear their lives and feel as though they have no other choice but to continue to take part in this awful crime. In order to put an end to human sex trafficking, more action should be taken by congress to pass laws surrounding the issue and more action should also be taken by law enforcement to end more cases. Money and the constant want for instant gratification would also have to be valued less than human life in order for a transformation to occur and not only for cases of human sex trafficking to decrease, but for it to disappear completely. Another possible way for the number of cases of human sex trafficking to at least decrease, would be if the model of our economy changed from the current model of Toyotism to something that was not so centered on supply and demand.
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