- the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation.
During one of my reunion dinners in February, my sister played a movie called, “Eden”. It was about a Korean-American teen who was lured by a charming, young man who seemed decent, yet was duped and ended up abducted. She was forced into prostitution and had to follow her captors’ every demand, in order to survive. Every effort to run away was futile.
Being a young teenage girl myself (for now…), I could hardly imagine myself in her position. I found myself extremely blessed, to not be placed under such circumstances. I am happy, contented and still… innocent. I am privileged – so are you.
However, this is reality to many other girls out there. These girls are coerced into selling “one-sided pleasure”. It’s not just a movie. It’s cruelty packed in a 2 hour “documentary”. While millions sit comfortably in a theater, or simply at home, a home, there are others like her who are put through living hell. From a young age, they were deprived of – what could have been – a happy childhood. They were stripped of their privileges. They didn’t deserve it.
This can be stopped.
This SHOULD be stopped.
“How?” “Why?” “Are you sure?”
Because we are all human beings. There is no omnipotent force that forces human traffickers to kidnap, there is no omnipotent force that demands lustful men (..or women?) to have sex with under-aged teens/minors. There is just… greed.. and lust. Indeed… “Money is the root of all Evil“.
“Sex trafficking does not just exist because its victims are vulnerable – it exists because there is a demand for commercial sex that traffickers can exploit and profit from.”
Realistically, it can only be minimised. Many do it because of their own circumstances, trying to make a living in a cruel, cruel world. Just like how most prostitutes, who enter on their own accord, are in the trade, not for pleasure, but to survive. (If you’re interested in literature, Mrs Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw highlights this human condition in the Victorian Era, where women are forced into such a trade because of their circumstances, which encloses them in a never-ending vicious cycle. He also highlights how people profit off these desperate individuals, such as using the money for their own personal needs. The poor stays poor, and the rich gets richer via such cruel, selfish exploitation.)
If you like books, here is a list:
Now that I’ve given a bit of voice on this topic, let’s get to the news!
- This trade in people criss-crosses the globe – and it is a lucrative business. The International Labour Office estimates that forced labour generates $150bm (£96bn) in illegal profits every year. Two thirds ($99bn; £63bn) comes from sexual exploitation.
- Most people fall prey to these human traffickers as they are easily duped by their promises of attractive offers. These offers could be anything – from marriage, love, to a new job, to anything! By spreading awareness and enlightening the vulnerable, we can prevent such scams.
TENANCINGO – GROOMING BOYS TO BE PIMPS
Tenancingo is a town with a foundation built on exploitation. Powerful networks of traffickers operate out of the region, where boys are groomed to become pimps from a young age. Women and girls are forced to sell sex on the streets, in residential brothels, online, and in cantinas across the United States and Mexico. They and their families are threatened through violence, deception, and intimidation. These women and girls are trapped in modern slavery, enslaved by criminal networks that have perfected human trafficking and exploitation into a sophisticated science over decades.
The depth and breadth of the modern slavery that is intricately woven throughout our global society is both shocking and daunting. In fact, the International Labor Organization estimates that 4.5 million people are victims of sex trafficking around the world in an industry that generates tens of billions of dollars in criminal profits each year.
Communities must be equipped to recognize and respond to human trafficking while addressing the vulnerabilities that lead people to becoming victims. Combating violence against women, promoting gender equity alongside safe migration, and access to economic opportunity are all important elements of fighting the root causes of human trafficking in Mexico.
Not only that, but we must increase services for victims, which means governments must take a more active role in funding these services. And if we want to shut down this network once and for all, we must address the core source of revenue by convincing men to stop purchasing commercial sex from trafficking victims.
THE MALE SPECIES CAN BE ABUSED AS WELL
In reality, men and boys are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in many countries around the world, and they even outnumber female victims within certain subcategories of trafficking. To ignore these facts is not only inaccurate, but also dangerous – it has led to the oblivious abandonment of tens of thousands of victims.
While it is indisputable that the vast majority of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation are female (likely around 98 percent, according to the International Labour Organization), it is not true that women and girls constitute the vast majority of all human trafficking victims globally. The same source approximates that 42 percent of victims of state-imposed labor exploitation are male. That number increases to 60 percent when considering labor exploitation in private economies. When you add sex trafficking data, this does mean that more of the nearly 21 million victims worldwide are female than male. Nevertheless, the difference is not so disparate as to merit neglecting the men and boys involved.
And what about that 2 percent of victims of commercial sexual exploitation that is male? Are these 400,000 men and boys being overlooked? As awareness of male victimization has increased, so has recognition of the plight of individual male victims. Early versions of the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Reports—which are undoubtedly some of the most comprehensive sources of country-specific human trafficking information—have very few references to male victims of sex trafficking. In 2007, Japan, Malta and Slovenia acknowledged the existence of the problem. In contrast, the latest report (2014) contains references to this phenomenon in the narratives for Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, El Salvador, Eritrea, France, Ghana, Iceland, Israel, Kenya, the Philippines and Qatar. It is likely happening in many more countries, but expectations of who constitutes a trafficking victim, as well as culturally reinforced ideas of who can be victimized, prevent further reports of male sex trafficking from being made or taken seriously.
If a single victim is one victim too many, then human trafficking experts, first responders and service providers must first be aware of the very real exploitation of men and boys in human trafficking—both for labor and for commercial sexual purposes. They must learn to devote equal attention to all genders when screening potential victims and to provide appropriate and sufficient services for all those who are victimized, not merely those who fit a stereotypical description of a victim/survivor of human trafficking.
The mainstream media and well-intentioned but misinformed or inadequately trained professionals within the counter-trafficking movement have perpetuated the image of a young, foreign, female victim. Just as it is easier to believe that a foreigner is a victim of trafficking than a U.S.-born citizen because it helps to externalize the danger onto a separate population, it may also be easier to believe that only the “weaker sex” is victimized. This notion is wrong and it is harmful. While women and girls obviously deserve protection, correcting false perceptions is the first step toward ensuring that boys—and yes, men—are also safe.
“Finally, I’m going to be me again.
I’m not going to belong to anybody but God, and that’s how it’s supposed to be”
- Jennifer Kempton started Survivor’s Ink, a nonprofit organisation, in September 2014: Victims are usually “branded” with tattoos, and thus, Kempton wanted to liberate other victims like herself by covering up the tattoos.
- “As the physical scars go away, the psychological scars can heal, too.”
Tattoo artist Mike Prickett donates his time to Survivor’s Ink, and he has seen firsthand the impact the brands have on women: “I think with anything, especially tattoos because they’re so permanent, there are certain things that are going to hold you back from doing the things that you want or constant reminders of something negative that you did or that happened to you,” he said, “Being able to wash that away and start fresh, I think that’s a chance that everyone deserves.”
- The Nordic Model: An effective approach to preventing trafficking and exploitation is the ‘Nordic model’, a human rights and gender equality-based approach also known as the ‘Swedish model’. This set of laws and policies penalizes the demand for commercial sex while decriminalizing individuals in prostitution and providing them with support services, including help for those who wish to exit prostitution. The Nordic model has two main goals: to curb the demand for commercial sex that fuels sex trafficking, and promote equality between men and women. It is based on an approach first adopted in Sweden in 1999, and followed by Norway and Iceland (http://www.equalitynow.org/sites/default/files/Nordic_Model_EN.pdf)
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of organisations that help tackle this problem:
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Solutions come from this website (http://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/). I’ve picked out the ones that seem more manageable and would produce good tangible effects.
- Meet with and/or write to your local, state, and federal government representatives to let them know that you care about combating human trafficking in your community, and ask what they are doing to address human trafficking in your area.
- Volunteer to do victim outreach or offer your professional services to a local anti-trafficking organisation.
- Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization in your area.
- Organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization.
- Host an awareness event to watch and discuss a recent human trafficking documentary. On a larger scale, host a human trafficking film festival.
- Encourage your local schools to partner with students and include the issue of modern day slavery in their curriculum. As a parent, educator, or school administrator, be aware of how traffickers target school-aged children.
“Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”
― Thomas Keneally,
Have a blessed year 🙂