According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we all have the right to freedom. Unfortunately, many people have been robbed of this basic human right and have been thrust into the dark world of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is modern slavery, and involves transporting or harboring people against their will for the purpose of exploitation. Human trafficking may seem like a problem that only developing nations would suffer from, but in reality, itís everywhere, including the United States of America. The U.S. Justice Department estimates that at least 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year. That number includes men, women, and children.
There are several types of human trafficking that take place in the U.S. One of the most common is sex slavery or sex trafficking, a type of human trafficking where people are sexually exploited; those at greatest risk of exploitation are usually women or children. Another common type of human trafficking in the U.S. is forced labor, which is where people are employed against their will, usually by threat of violence or other coercion. Some forms of forced labor include factory employees working in poor conditions with very low pay, people who are forced to work as domestic servants in homes, and farm workers who are motivated to work through abuse. There are many other examples, unfortunately, that could be given to illustrate forced labor.
So what can we do about human trafficking in the U.S.? For starters, we can learn more about it and share that information with family, friends, and other people we know. Raising awareness is an important first step. Next, itís helpful to be aware of some of the signs that someone may be trapped in a human trafficking situation: What are their work and living conditions like? How is their overall health? Do they have control over their life?
We can also be aware of who to contact in the event that we believe there is a case of human trafficking occurring in our midst. One good resource is the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (call 1-888-373-7888 or text to BeFree at 233733). Itís also possible that there are local centers that fight human trafficking that you can call in case of an emergency.
Human trafficking is a huge problem that certainly isnít easily solved, but we can resolve to take a stand against it together and do everything in our power to fight this horrible attack on human rights.