Human Trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is the transport, transfer, or harboring of people by force or threat, for work labor, prostitution, slavery, or removal of organs. It is estimated that over 21 million people are victims of human trafficking all over the world.

Why Is Human trafficking such a big problem?

Human trafficking is a major issue world wide. Thousands of men and women, in almost every country, are trafficked every year and the UNODC has been working to implement the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons. Victims being trafficked have had all of their rights stripped from them. Innocent people are forced to work or prostitute themselves for the criminals that so call "own them." This crime is a billion dollar industry (bigger than the drug trade) that exploits humans against their will. There have been 40,177 cases of human trafficking reported between 2000-2012, but these are only the reported cases. The severity of human trafficking is wide-spread due to how long it takes for these problems to be recognize and for something to be done about it. Also, many trafficked victims refuse to come forward due to the embarrassment or because they are afraid, making it extremely hard for law enforcement to incriminate the abusers. Human trafficking has been going on for centuries, long before such crime was documented.
The first documented case of human trafficking is the African Slave Trade. Europeans and early Americans were involved with African groups that sold those captured from opposing tribes as slave labor.

In 1807, Britain was the first country to outlaw slavery. The United States soon followed their lead, passing the same law in 1820. At the time, there were no organizations that promoted international law.

After banning the African Slave Trade in the early 1800s, white slavery began. White slavery is the procurement of white women or girls against their will for the purpose of prostitution.

The problem of white slavery was recognized in the late 1890s and early 1900s. However, the criminalization of white slavery didn't occur until 1910 when the International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Trade was signed. When the First World War began, efforts for stopping white slavery were put on hold. After the war, the League of Nations was started. This ultimately helped bring attention to human trafficking of not just white women, but also the trafficking of women and children all over the world. By 1921, the International Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Women and Children was signed by 33 different countries in the League of Nations. Previous to this, the focus had been on ending the exploitation of women for prostitution.

It wasn't until 2000 that the definition of human trafficking finally changed. The Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children was signed, and trafficking was finally recognized as modern day slavery. It was also recognized that men could be victims of human trafficking as well, and that trafficking wasn't simply sexual exploitation.

How should the Government help stop human trafficking?

There is a common misconception about human trafficking which is that it is only the trafficking of women for sex. This is not the case at all. Many people are naïve about human trafficking because it is a hidden, unspoken topic. Even though it is an extremely hard subject to discuss, congress would do well to pass a law requiring schools and places of employment to educate students/staff about human trafficking and it effects. They should also be educated on the signs that indicate someone is a victim of trafficking. The lack of education about the issue puts people at risk to be caught in the web of human trafficking before they know it. The effects on them are devastating. This criminal opportunity can come through meeting someone online, being drugged and kidnapped at a party/bar, or even being threatened. As well, congress should provide funding for safe houses and counseling for victims that have escaped. Safe houses and transitional houses already exist for victims but they are all nonprofit organizations. If there were government-funded safe houses, there would be a greater number of them that could provide safety. With safe houses and counseling, victims may be more comfortable coming forward, because the threat of being taken again or being shamed for what happened to them won't pose a risk. Lastly, all law enforcement should be aware of the indicators of trafficking so that they can identify the victims and have specific protocol to combat the issue. This will allow for less cases to go unsolved and for the protection of the victims.

Indicators of Human Trafficking

  • Disconnected from family, friends, or community
  • Stopped going to school or work
  • Bruises in various stages of healing
  • Person fearful, timid, or submissive
  • Are they living in suitable conditions

There are many nonprofit organizations that provide hotline numbers, safe houses, and raise awareness to help combat human trafficking. These organizations include (links attached):

Works Cited


Created with images by Imagens Evangélicas - "Human Trafficking photo"

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