Modern day slavery is the severe exploitation of individuals for commercial and/or personal gain. This form of slavery is around us everyday, but oftentimes is just overlooked. As someone who personally knows a victim of human trafficking, this topic holds a special place in my heart. I believe that Human Trafficking is not talked about enough and I want to be a source of education for individuals who have not be properly informed of this exploitation. Throughout this article I will provide shocking statistics and facts that will hopefully bring more attention and awareness to this topic.
The evidence in human exploitation is clear in numbers. According to an article from Human’s Rights First, an estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery today. A common believe of human trafficking is evoked around the idea of sexual exploitation. Although that fact stands, there are also various other forms of human trafficking that are often times overlooked. Of the recorded 24.9 million victims, 16 million were exploited for labor, 4.8 million were sexually exploited, and 4.1 million were exploited in state-imposed forced labor. Examples of labor include domestic work like construction, manufacturing, mining, hospitality, and many more.
I interviewed my roommate Megan Harris (21) to get her insight on forced labor. Like myself, Megan holds very strong believes when it comes to the Human Trafficking awareness. She said she’s been very much aware of these scary numbers and brought up a specific clothing company that has rumors of child labor within their walls. “I don’t shop from Shien anymore. This fast fashion industry uses children in their factories to get cheap work done for their cheap company.” I applauded Megan for taking a step in advocacy to prevent modern slavery. The scary point though is that Shein is a very popular site and individuals are looking over this threat on lives for the sole purpose of cheap clothes
Regardless of age or sex, human trafficking can happen to just about anyone. In a research study done by CTDC went through various age groups and calculated the percentage of labored individuals in each category. Evidence shows that there is no age that isn’t being trafficked. The results show that the age group with the highest amount of trafficking are the 9-17 year olds, and the group with the least amount are the 0-8 years olds. The numbers fluctuate by age, however they never go away. It’s important to recognize that no matter how mature you may be, the numbers show that no one is safe.
Another important factor to consider is the gender of human trafficking victims. Prostitution is one of the main sources of trafficking of woman. These women get tied into pimps and other selfish leaders who sell these women’s bodies for personal gain. This common idea of women in prostitution is only a glimpse of what trafficking is capable of. According to research done by Statista, 46% of trafficking victims are women above the age of 18. The other half is made up of men and children. Men over the age of 18 make up 20%, little girls make up %19, and little boys %15. Men are often forced into laboring, while women are forced into sexual acts. Children are often found in between the two exploitations. However regardless of sex, one can can find themselves in any of the various forms of trafficking.
Education of human trafficking needs to be enforced more. Human trafficking is looked at as a probelm outside the US, our country needs to wake up and realize that trafficking is happening outside our very doorstep. This is a subject that should be taught to individuals all across the country. A nonprofit organization ECPAT-USA offers a free workshop program for schools, after schools and youth organizations. ECPAT-USA does a remarkable job advocating for the human rights movement by advocating community leadership, youth education, legislative efforts, and private sector engagements.
I interviewed my mother Karen McCormick about her prior knowledge of human trafficking. “Honestly I never knew men were part of human trafficking. I only thought about women being sex slaves. I was also shocked to see a large percentage of people in the ages 30-38 to be affected by trafficking.” She also touched on how human trafficking was never a buzz word for her until the late 90s and early 2000s. She explained how she never had much knowledge on the matter until more recently but how happy she is to see such an important topic being discussed more today.
According to ECPAT, we can keep an eye out for individuals being trafficked if we see any of the following elements. Unexplained injuries, branding or strange tattoos, an excessive amount of items like phones, money or hotel keys, and lastly if someone is visibly having a hard time making decisions without another individual’s approval. These are just a few of the minor red flags to keep an eye out for. If you or anyone you know is being affected by human trafficking, know you are not alone. Get help at 1(888)-373-7888.