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Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery - Why we Need a Solution

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In 2010 the Trafficking Persons Report estimated that there were 12.3 million people enslaved worldwide (CASEA). Human trafficking is a defined as the “keeping or putting someone in an exploitative situation for profit” (Healey, 7). It is a crime that plagues the entire world. Men, women, and children are being forced into doing hard labor and sex. Forty three percent of that 12.3 million are being used for sexual exploitation (Simon, 2). Beautiful countries like Brazil and Bangladesh are not only tourist spots but also some of the worst countries for human trafficking. Fifty six percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls. Women around the world continue to be sold and bought into sex slavery from ages as young as 7 and 8. These girl aren’t given any respect for their bodies and often grow up being enslaved and becoming 98% of sex slaves around the world. Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and more action must be taken to combat this issue round the world.

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Australia is a country that is often not widely recognized for its human trafficking problem, but it has one. It is very much a destination place for human trafficking. Between 2003 and 2011 there were 305 investigations in regards to trafficking (Healey, 12). And from those investigations 70% of them were sex trafficking. Most of these women being trafficked are from Asian countries like, South East Asia, China, Korea, and Thailand because of their high populations and lack of documentation for them (Human Trafficking.org). The numbers are very vague for all countries with high cases of sex and human trafficking. Most victims are undocumented and rarely have the will or chance to alert authorities. However, Australian NGO Project Respect estimated that there are at least a thousand victims under debt bondage currently (Human Trafficking.org). There are laws set in place to prosecute offenders of these crimes and Australia also has a living assistance system for victims of trafficking.

Just like Australia, Thailand is a destination spot for human trafficking, but that’s not all it is. Thailand is also a source and a transit for human trafficking. This means that Thailand traffickers gather humans on their land and also ship them to places around the world. These traffickers have an easier time getting their “resources” because there is a significant amount of stateless people in Thailand. Statelessness are people who don’t belong to a country, meaning that they do not hold any legal statues to a government (Hepburn, II). These people have no way to receive healthcare, property, or education. They survive on a cusp on civilization and are vulnerable to all kinds of horrors including trafficking. Without documentation proving that they are a part of the country, even though the victims may have been born in Thailand, they are stripped of basic rights. Often officials and law enforcement are seen working with traffickers to exploit these people. Through the years laws have been set to combat human trafficking in Thailand, but with little success. For a country that was on the top 10 list of sex trafficking there are very little arrest made. Corruption is widespread in the law enforcement of Thailand. These officials protect brothels and businesses with slaves to earn their cut (Human Trafficking.org).

One of Thailand’s exports is The United States of America. America is a transit and destination country for human trafficking (Human Trafficking.org). California is a huge port for trafficking in the US. Its large population, international borders, and extensive ports make it a prime location for traffickers (CASEA). The CIA estimate that there are 50,000 women and children trafficked for sex each year (Simon, 4). This is a dramatic look at one of the most progressive countries in the world. California is a huge tourist spot and also holds the three highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation. Places like Florida host victims from Mexico who were promised honest work and turned into sex slaves. Even though the US launched many programs to fight human trafficking, traffickers are thriving on their soil. Programs like The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act provided resources to assist 18,000 to 20,000 victims who was trafficked every year. America created a Tier system to show what countries were contributing to the fight against human trafficking and what countries have not. This system doesn’t affectively show people what countries have the worst problem with human trafficking, it only shows you have countries are working on solving it.

An international view on combating human trafficking are centered around; Prevention, Protection, and Prosecution. Internationally people are trying to prevent sex trafficking through awareness and education about the topic. Also countries like Thailand have tried to prevent it by imposing greater penalties to buyers instead of sellers (Human Trafficking.org). This puts fear in seller’s hearts and without customers there is no profit in the business. Mainly, prevention is mostly education to all parties of human trafficking; the potential victims, the consumers and parents of potential victims.

Protection is next. This begins when a victim is identified and removed from an exploitative situation, is offered immediate and ongoing protective services, and is assisted in rebuilding their lives (Healey, 9). Many protection organizations have been created around the world. The United Nation’s Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons calls upon all nations to enforce all types of recovery for trafficked victims. This includes the protection of said victims from their abusers and traffickers as they undergo prosecution. The goal is to have a well-established protection reputation in your country so victims will feel more comfortable coming forward and sharing information (Human Trafficking.org).

With victims help authorities can prosecute sellers and buyers of human trafficking. The goal of prosecution is to ensure the victim receives justice and compensation for the crimes they endured. But prosecution cannot happen if a nation does not have a strong legal system, widespread training of law enforcement, and many other elements to combat the crime (Healey, 9). Other first world countries like the US have serious penalties for trafficking offenders and even offers victims T-visa’s ( Visa’s that allow them to stay in the country) for payment for helping them prosecute their traffickers. Still it is very difficult to track down offenders. The business is so underground that most cases go unreported. And even though victims are promised refuge most are still too afraid to go after their traffickers.

The United Nation has also tried to help by creating the Millennium Development Goals in 2000. These are goals that address extreme hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, promoting gender equality and educations, and creating environmental sustainability (MDG). This issue of human trafficking and the global sex trade falls under two goals of the MDG but none of the specifically. First is goal two which is, to achieve universal primary education. Education is a big part of Prevention when combatting human trafficking. More children and parents around the world needs to know about human trafficking and the ways people can become victims. The second is goal three which is, to promote gender equality and empower women. Women are the main victims of human trafficking and this is because women are still seen as lesser human beings than men. By promoting gender equality and encouraging women to see themselves as strong and worthy as men more people globally will assist in preventing and combatting human trafficking.

Human/ sex trafficking is still at large and is an ongoing battle for the entire world. Both 1st and 3rd world countries continue to be plagued with these crimes. It is modern day slavery, from forced labor to forced sex. Thousands upon thousands of people are currently living under human trafficking today, even in our back yard. Though the United Nations have plans to combat it, without awareness of the common citizen the message is not being heard. Governments need to make sure their people know what is currently happening to the people around them. Women and children need to be protected no matter where they were born or what education they have. It is a global issue without global awareness. For people to want to fix the problem of human trafficking we must address it as such.

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