what is human trafficking?

With an estimated 27 million slaves worldwide, men, women, and children can all be at risk for trafficking.  Seventy-nine percent of trafficked victims are forced into sex slavery of some sort, with the majority of those being women and children.  There are an estimated 2-4 million children held as sex slaves globally.  Their "traffickers", or those holding them in slavery, can be family members, friends, acquaintances or perfect strangers.  Who is at risk?  Overseas it is often the impoverished who are at risk for trafficking, but in the U.S. the highest risk is for abused children, children inside the foster care system, or immigrants (legal or not).  And though many people don't realize it's happening in the United States, there are an estimated 17,500 modern-day slaves in the U.S. today.

The U.N. describes human trafficking as follows:
"Trafficking in persons" shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs."
In layman's terms, this means human trafficking is either the forced labor or forced prostitution of another human being for monetary or political gain.  A trafficked person is held by force or by coercion, which makes it scary to try to escape the trafficker.  The victim does not receive any money earned - it goes into the pocket of the traffickers instead. Trafficking can take the form of forced prostitution, mail-order brides, forced labor (either in a commercial setting or in a home), child soldiers, forced begging, or any other action where the trafficker benefits through the force or coercion of the victim.

Trafficking is illegal in every country, yet it still happens in every country, with an estimated 27 million people trafficked worldwide.  It happens in homes, in brothels, on the internet (setting up sex appointments), in factories, restaurants, stores...the list just keeps going.

January through December, Sunday through Saturday, morning, afternoon, and night.  

at its core, human trafficking is a mentality.
Before a girl is ever sold for sex by her pimp, a thought is formed by
the pimp that says, "I deserve the money this brings" and by
the john that says, "Sexually, I deserve whatever I want."

at its core, human trafficking is a mentality.
Before a boy is ever sold for sex by his pimp, a thought is formed by
his parents that says, "It's okay if I beat my child," and by
the boy that says, "I don't deserve any better than this."

at it's core, human trafficking is a mentality.
Before a woman is ever sold for sex by her pimp, a thought is formed by
the lawmakers that says, "It doesn't happen here," and by
the population that says, "We don't care if it does or not."

This is more a fight of ideas than we even realize.  If we want to see an end to trafficking, we need to see a global shift in our mentality from entitlement to compassion and respect.


For a more comprehensive overview, please visit the Wikipedia article on human trafficking and the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP).

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