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Slavery Doesn’t Exist Today!!

January 28, 2008

That’s what Abby said to me last night when I picked her up from her dad’s.Abby: So what did you do this weekend?
Me: Oh, I went to a conference on human trafficking.
Abby: What’s that?
Me: Slavery.
Abby: Mom, slavery doesn’t exist today! That was over YEARS ago! (Said with a DUH voice.)

So to argue with Abby (and to tell you about it) here are some facts:
¨        Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and is now considered the third-largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world (some say 2nd largest).  

¨        There are 27 million slaves in the world, half of whom are children.

¨        Over $66 billion is generated from trafficking every year.

¨        Victims are trafficked for a wide variety of purposes, such as commercial sex or agricultural work, house-keeping or stripping, yet they all share the loss of one of our world’s most cherished rights: freedom. 

¨        As defined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the legal definition of a “severe forms of trafficking in persons” is:        
sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
+ the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.  

¨        Cases of human trafficking have been reported throughout the United States in all fifty states and specifically in ninety-one cities (Free the Slaves).

¨        The number of trafficking victims in the United States is estimated in the hundreds of thousands. These estimates include numbers of internally trafficked individuals, such as minors in the U.S. involved in commercial sex, as well as the U.S. State Department estimate of 14,500-17,500 foreign nationals that are trafficked into the United States each year. 

¨        Human trafficking is prevalent in many countries around the world, though some are primarily sites of origin, transit, destination, and/or internal trafficking.

¨        There is no one consistent face of a trafficking victim.  Trafficked persons can be rich or poor, men or women, adults or children, and foreign nationals or U.S. citizens.

¨        There is no one consistent face of a trafficker.  Traffickers include a wide range of criminal operators, including individual pimps, small families, loose-knit decentralized criminal networks, and international organized criminal syndicates. 

¨        Human trafficking is a market-based economy that exists on principles of supply and demand.  It also thrives due to conditions where high profits can be generated with low risk.

¨        It is a crime under US and international law.  In many U.S. States, it is also a crime under State law.

¨        The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 is the main U.S. law on trafficking.  It has been reauthorized again in 2003 and 2005. 

¨        The “Protocol to Prevent, Surpress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children” is the main international law on the subject

¨        There are three general areas to understand who are considered trafficking victims in the U.S:
o       Minors (under age 18) involved in commercial sex;
o       Those age 18 or over involved in commercial sex via force, fraud, or coercion;
o       Children and adults forced to perform labor and/or services in conditions of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery, via force, fraud, or coercion.

¨        It is important to dispel certain myths about trafficking
o       Trafficking is not smuggling or forced movement |
o       Trafficking does not require transportation or border crossing, and does not only happen to immigrants or foreign nationals. 
o       Trafficking does not require physical force, physical abuse, or physical restraint
o       The consent of the victim is considered irrelevant, as is payment.

If you would like to find out more about trafficking and organizations that are fighting it, please check out these additional resources:
U.S. State Department “Trafficking in Persons Report”      
Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking             
Free the Slaves      
International Justice Mission       
The Amazing Change      
The Polaris Project      

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