UPLIFTING HEARTS, MINDS & SOULS (HUMS)
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Trafficking: A Contemporary Manifestation of Slavery
Human trafficking is a global phenomenon, happening everywhere around the world including in our own communities. Worldwide, an estimated 1 to 2 million people are trafficked every year. According to State Department estimates, approximately 14,500 to 17,500 women, children and men are brought to the U.S. each year. Millions of individuals, the majority of which are women and children, are tricked, coerced, sold or forced into situations of slavery-like exploitation from which they are unable to escape.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking includes all acts involved in the recruitment, abduction, transport, harboring, transfer, sale or receipt of persons. This is a multi-billion dollar industry often operated by highly organized criminal groups. In addition to organized crime rings, the traffickers may also be loose organizations, families or individuals. After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world. Unlike "alien smuggling," trafficking involves a long-term profit through the continued exploitation of the persons trafficked. Human trafficking is a crime punishable under the U.S. federal law.
Trafficked persons are most commonly recruited for:
* Sexual Exploitation which includes:
Servile marriage and Internet brides (this could be labor exploitation as well)
Labor Exploitation which includes:
Sweatshop labor in factories or agricultural settings
Why Does it Happen?
Traffickers capitalize on the unequal status of women and girls in source countries, including harmful stereotypes of women as property, commodities, servants and sexual objects. Traffickers have also taken advantage of cheap, unprotected labor and the promotion of sex tourism in some countries. This is a problem that affects virtually all countries. Even though trafficking routes are constantly changing, the one permanent factor is the economic disparity between countries of origin and countries of destination.
Often, these individuals are trying to escape from poverty and unemployment, from wars, conflict or ecological disasters in their home country, and to provide for themselves and their families. They do not know what lies ahead and what has happened to others like them. Traffickers use a variety of recruitment methods. Most victims think they are recruited for legitimate employment or marriage abroad, though a few may even know they are being recruited for the sex industry or labor. However, none of them are aware of the inhumane conditions that they will have to face or that they may be forced to work in order to "pay back" exorbitant recruitment or transportation fees. "Interest rates" (as high as 50%) imposed by the traffickers on these "debts" make them almost impossible to pay back, especially when the victims are paid a very small percentage of their actual earnings, if at all.
While physical restraint, violence and rape are often used to imprison people, traffickers also use subtle ways of controlling their victims, such as using psychological coercion. Traffickers control their legal identity by confiscating their passport or official papers, threaten them with deportation, or threaten to have them put in jail. Threats against their family and intimidation are other tactics frequently used to subjugate the victims. Traffickers use their lack of knowledge of the U.S., inability to speak English and ignorance of available resources to keep victims isolated. They use the victims' fear and shame to keep them from reporting the abuse.
Criminal justice system response
Traffickers are rarely apprehended and even more rarely prosecuted. Most victims who are trafficked remain undetected by the public because the strategies used by the perpetrators isolate victims and prevent them from coming forward. Also, the public and victim service providers have only recently become aware of this issue and may not be familiar with how to recognize or respond to trafficking victims.
Even if the victims are able to go to the authorities, they may be afraid of reporting what is happening because in their home countries, authorities often can be corrupt. This reality combined with a fear of reprisals from the traffickers, for themselves and their families back home, means that victims have little incentive to cooperate with investigating and prosecuting authorities. The low incidence of reporting contributes to the poor law enforcement response. Law enforcement may not be knowledgeable about trafficking and may treat victims as criminals and detain or deport them.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), passed by the US Congress in 2000 and the Reauthorization Act passed in 2003, attempts to address the problem of trafficking both nationally and abroad. Victims of trafficking now have laws that protect them and provide access to certain basic services. Under the TVPA, victims of trafficking may be eligible for immigration relief.
How You Can Help?
This is an issue that affects all of our communities both in the U.S. and internationally. All of us can make a difference. By educating ourselves and our communities about this issue and ways to identify victims, we can end this new form of slavery that is human trafficking.
To report a trafficking case in Georgia, call Tapestri at 404.299.0895 or
To report trafficking cases in other parts of the country, call the Department of Justice’s Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line at 1.888.428.7581
Let’s put an END to VIOLENCE & ABUSE WORLDWIDE!
A 501c3 Organization
WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING