The world has yet to eradicate one of the largest criminal rings and illegal profit makers in the world. Human trafficking, an act defined as “taking someone by force, coercion, or fraud, for purpose of commercial sex or slave labor,” is an insidious violation of human rights, while also being an extreme breach in the law, involving abduction, rape, imprisonment, physical violence, blackmail, and drugs, to say the least. It’s an international problem, as well as a problem within nations, even those considered free.
Human trafficking is proof that slavery still exists, and needs to be stopped at all costs. The illegal money that it circulates, the psychological and physical damage it causes, and the social issues that arise from it are just some of the reasons human trafficking needs to be obliterated. Human trafficking is a booming market, making 32 billion dollars in revenue and driven almost entirely by cash. It is underground, and there is a quiet demand for it. While it is a very large part of some nation’s economies, it is still difficult to track because of the hidden cash flow.
There is legislation in place to stop human trafficking, such as the Council of Europe Convention (2005) in Europe and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2000) in the United States. Worldwide, there have been efforts to slow down and stop the buying, selling, and distributing of humans as modern day slaves, but they are not being fully funded or implemented. The lack of inaction is the result of global indifference. There is no public outcry to try and stop the money that is so steadily circulating the globe.
It is easy money, both for the pimps and sometimes the victims. A pimp has talked to CBS about the success behind the industry and why it brings in so much money. He attested, “In the [sex industry], you don’t need money to make money. ” He stated that he did not get the chance to go to college and get a degree, so for someone looking to make quick, easy money, it makes sense. The girls that they use bring in so much money, a fraction of it to maintain her appearance. The person needs clothes, hair, shoes, nails, everything that’s needed,” he said. There is a slew of hugely detrimental psychological issues that can arise from being a victim of human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking, especially those stolen against their will, are objectified and dehumanised. They are made to feel emotionless and powerless. Being a victim of this crime is found to contribute to: PTSD, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, suicidal ideation, Stockholm Syndrome, and substance abuse.
Those who develop mental illness as a result of being a sex slave have a difficult time asking for help, whether it be because they are misidentified as “willing” participants, because they do not speak the local language, or because their physical identification has been confiscated and they have no proof or evidence to who they are. Even more noticeable is the physical abuse they suffer. The nature of the work they are forced into is violent, with commercial sex and rape leading to reproductive issues in women. Physical violence is used to show dominance over the captives.
Beatings, rapes, gang rapes, and starvation are just some of the tactics used. The victim’s welfare is not cared for, and many get sick and are not given the proper attention or treatment. Since victims are often kept heavily intoxicated or high to keep them incoherent and cooperative, many develop drug addictions and suffer the consequences of that, on top of physical violence and mental distress. Recovery is long and hard for these victims. Women and girls that are sexually exploited often come away from it with serious trust issues and have a hard time coping with the help that they need to recover from the devastation they lived through.
Without recovery, however, they will likely not regain the control of their life that they had before. Even with treatment, however, full recovery is not guaranteed, and they will feel the effects of their slavery for the rest of their lives. Human trafficking comes in many shapes and sizes, but every story is horrifying. Many victims of human trafficking are brought from one country to another with false documents and names, exemplifying the premeditated nature of human trafficking. “G,” now a free resident in Michigan, was not always free.
After her family in Togo, West Africa, fell under financial hardship, her father’s cousin, Joe, in the United States called, offering to house G and enroll her in school in Michigan. G willingly went, but with documents and a passport under a different name. Betrayed by her family, she was used for labor, made to cook and clean and do ridiculous tasks like take apart and power wash the car seats of Joe’s girlfriend’s car. She was physically abused for menial things like forgetting to turn off the television.
Other children were brought into the home, and on the outside the group of kids and their captors looked like a functioning family. Neighbors and friends were lied to about the children’s true origins. The physical abuse, isolation, and workload ended when Joe threw her out for refusing to talk about her college classes and a nearby family took her end. Joe was eventually arrested and given eleven and a half years jail time. There’s also famous media representation of human trafficking. The famous movie Taken is about an ex-CIA agent’s daughter, Kim, and her friend being stolen from her vacation in Paris.
In the movie, the drugged girls are put in revealing clothes and sold, with Kim being advertised as a “pure-virgin” and sold for $500,000. The girls are referred to as “merchandise”. Human trafficking is above all cruel and a violation of human rights. It is obviously wrong to take women and girls, sometimes even children, from their homes and family, against their will. It is obviously wrong to strip them of their identity and give them false documents that say they are someone they are not. It is obviously wrong to force people into sex or work without consent and against their will.
To the individual, the effects are devastating. To smaller communities, and the world at large, human trafficking perpetuates rape culture and the mentality that women and girls are objects for male pleasure. Similarly, media representation leads us to believe in this idea of the “perfect” victim. In movies and shows, victims of sexual violence are largely portrayed as well behaved, conventionally attractive, and blameless, leading us to question real life victims with trivial details such as “Was she on drugs? even though that is not at all relevant and does not devalue the suffering she endured.
We are also made to fear strangers even when the statistics show that more often than not, the perpetrators of sex violence and human trafficking are family members. “G’s” father set her up, as we saw previously. The movie Taken, also previously discussed, Kim was stolen by complete strangers. These representations give us an inaccurate idea about the very nature of the slave trade and sex industry. There is also something to be said about the people involved in this criminal activity.
Stealing women to drug them and sell them to other men builds a world of male dominance. For those men, who are likely wealthy and powerful within their respective socio-economic areas, they think that it is okay to treat women in that way. Any situation that leads men to genuinely feel okay in those actions is one that needs to be shut down immediately. It sets our modern world back in our strides to create more feminism and equality. Obviously, human trafficking is a horrendous display of criminal behavior for the cause of profits and personal pleasure.
I fully support all arguments that lead to the conclusion that it must be stopped. It is extremely damaging to the individual, circulating massive amounts of dirty money around the globe, and perpetuates rape culture and hinders the empowerment of women. I do not have reservations regarding my sources. I have compiled a wide variety of sources, including primary, first hand accounts and referenced government legislation. The evidence can be found anywhere on the internet that human trafficking is despicable and ought to be eliminated.