“Trafficking” refers to illegal trade, an over-used word by the media that can be daintily attached to drugs, weapons, and humans. We hear the term so often; one can easily be desensitized to its context. Nicholas Kistof of the New York Times states, “Human trafficking is a convoluted euphemism.” He goes right to the heart of the matter and refers to it as modern human slavery. Human slavery is raw, honest and sadly much more prevalent than we would like to believe.
Every year an estimated 800,000 people are transported across international boundaries for the purpose of human slavery. In the United States alone it is estimated that 100,000 children each year are part of the sex trade. According to the US Department of State in 2007, 4 to 27 million people globally are in some form of slavery.
Most Americans feel that human trafficking is it happening “somewhere else” and although appalling, there is nothing we can do to change the way other countries and peoples choose to live their lives. Now slavery on the other hand was worth fighting a war over. A hundred and fifty years ago this country fought and died for the freedom of slaves. If our first step is awareness, then we should demand the media call it what it is, human slavery.
Taking a global look at the problem we recognize that cultural relativism is compounding the problem. Cultural relativism is the idea that an individual belief or activity should be understood in terms of his or her culture. Even in America we have distorted beliefs that would be seen unfavorable in other parts of the world. Hard to believe but look at circumcision. Some (even within the US) would consider the act cruel and unnecessary and yet we fully accept that as part of our culture. We mutilate half of our population shortly after birth under some religious or hygienic justification. In countries where a cast system is still activity respected, it is not uncommon for a farmer to sell off his daughter in order to support his impoverished family.
Ruchira Gupta, a journalist, discovered how often this happens by accident while visiting the hills of Nepal in 1994. She remembers, “Many villages in the hills had no women between the ages of 15 and 45.” After nine months of research and countless obstacles from politicians and local mafia she finally had enough information to produce her film The Selling of Innocents. The film went on to win an Emmy in 1997. From there she created the organization Apne Aap (self-help in Hindi) to bring awareness to the women of the world. Her story and others like it finally spurred the government to action and in 2000 the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was passed in the United States.
Many victims are coerced through false promises of free transportation to better places or promises of employment. Going willingly into a lie of a better life and then the victim arrives and finds that they are either physically, financially or emotionally...