By Amber Layun
Imagine being held hostage, forced to commit laborious and sexual acts against your will, without having any hope of escape for the rest of your life. Although this situation appears extreme, it is not uncommon. Human trafficking is an atrocious act that is not only seen in the undeveloped countries of Africa and Southeast Asia, but right here in both rural and urban America.
According to the Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, human trafficking is the “Recruitment, transportation, and harboring of persons through coercion, deception, abduction, or some other form of illicit influence.” Senior Tammy Furman says human trafficking is a, “Disgrace to mankind, a violation of rights, and a sick and twisted act for power.” Most commonly, human trafficking is initiated as an exploitation of labor or sexual activity. Kathryn Farr, a researcher and contributor to the encyclopedia, reports that, “There are about 27 million people around the world that live under some sort of slavery.” Almost every country exhibits at least a few cases of human trafficking; the United States is no exception.
Here at Viera High School, many students are surprised to hear that human trafficking is just as common in America as it is in developing countries like Ghana and Columbia. Aly Rutherford, a junior, suggests, “Human trafficking is absolutely terrible. I am not aware of its severity in the US, but the fact that it happens at all is horrible to consider.” In fact, according to the Polaris Project, an organization towards National Human Trafficking efforts, “41% of sex trafficking cases and 20% of labor trafficking cases reported referenced US citizens as victims.” It is certainly surprising that monstrosities such as these are occurring right before our eyes.
Although slavery is on a “black-market,” there are still ways to infiltrate the trade and reduce, and hopefully one day eliminate, the act of human trafficking. One effort to globally attack the problem is the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) launched in 2007. The goal of the programs is to “increase the knowledge of trafficking and heighten awareness of the problem.” Additional programs, like the Polaris Project and UNICEF, also work to stop human trafficking and exploitation of women and children. “It is important people know what is going on right here in America,” George Downey, a 12th grader, mentioned. “In order to stop slavery, people need to be informed and victims need to know where they can get help.”
It is important that people are aware of this problem that plagues the entirety of America, so spread the word and save an innocent person’s freedom.