According to the Global Slavery Index there are more slaves now than at any time in human history. The Global Slavery Index has released new data that puts the number of slaves worldwide at 45.8 million. Slavery is illegal world wide and yet the problem continues to grow every year.
Human Trafficking is using force, fraud, or coercion to compel someone to perform a commercial sex or labor act. Force, fraud or coercion are not needed if there person involved is under the age of 18. Human trafficking is often confused with human smuggling. Physical movement is required in order to be smuggled, it is not required for human trafficking. Human Trafficking is a crime against a person, while human smuggling is a crime against a political border.
Human Trafficking can occur in massage parlors, Reiki salons, hotels, farms, truck stops, homes, restaurants, the fracking industry, construction, the oil industry, industrial facilities, sweatshops, embassies. The bottom line: Human Trafficking and Sexual Slavery can occur almost anywhere.
Labor exploitation is comprised of 60% men and 40% women. Sexual Exploitation is comprised of 98% women and 2% men. Women and Children are far more likely to be sexually exploited than men worldwide.
Currently there is not a national protocol for healthcare and human trafficking. It can be difficult for healthcare providers to recognize trafficking victims when they seek care, especially in clinics and emergency rooms. If victims do present themselves in clinics or hospitals, in general they will not identify themselves as victims of trafficking. Why? Often victims do not understand they are victims of trafficking (Hofmann, 2015). In addition, mistrust of authorities and fear of being reported to law enforcement will prevent victims as identifying themselves as trafficked (Ahn et al.,2013).
It is crucial to educate the public as to what trafficking is and what it is not. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) has an excellent educational campaign called “Look Below the Surface”. The NHTRC has created small plastic laminated cards with basic clues to help determine if a person may be a victim of trafficking. These clues are 1) evidence of being controlled, 2) the inability to move or leave a job, 3) bruises, cuts, sores or signs of physical abuse, 4) fear of deportation, 5) not speaking on one’s own behalf of not speaking English, or 6) no passport or any type of identification. NHTRC has a 24 hour hotline available 365 days a year. If someone suspects someone is a trafficking victim, they can call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888.These cards are free and available to anyone not simply to victim advocates and government agencies. Handing these card out at all educational trainings would give the general public much needed and vital information on how to help someone if they suspect that they are being trafficked.
Traffickers count on individual and systemic forms of discrimination and oppression that fail to protect the most vulnerable, preying upon those who are marginalized, disempowered or stigmatized.
Human Trafficking and Sexual Slavery remains a multi-billion dollar industry, and laws to combat the problem have been slow to pass. A hodgepodge of US legislation has allowed the industry to continue to grow, and current laws fall far short of being effective. Less than 1% of all traffickers in the US are ever brought to justice, while at the same time 70% of all murders committed in the US are solved (Bales & Soodalter, 2009)
Many slaves are from impoverished countries; thus the root causes of slavery can often be tracked to conditions in those countries. For example, poverty, lack of education, lack of income, war, natural disasters and employment opportunities can lead individuals to emigrate. Those in desperate situations will often turn to desperate measures in order to achieve a better life for themselves. Women and children tend to be the most vulnerable to human trafficking and sexual slavery.
The State Department has just released it’s annual Trafficking in Persons report. The country of Myanmar is among the worst, joining the ranks of Iran, North Korea, Syria and Uzbekistan. Myanmar attributes the problem to poverty which drives people to other countries in search of work and higher paying jobs which can leave them vulnerable to labor trafficking. In addition, China’s demand for “brides”, from Myanmar is forcing woman and girls into sexual slavery. The report looks at 188 countries around the globe. While the United States is among the top ranked countries in dealing with Human Trafficking and Sexual Slavery it continues to have a problem with forced labor and sex trafficking with victims coming from Mexico and the Philippines.