Human trafficking has seen an increase over the past few years, even with covert operations shutting down prostitution and child pornography rings in and out of the United States. One would like to think that living in the 21st century would provide extra security and surveillance to prevent these crimes from happening, though it does not seem to be stopping these criminals, only slowing them down. This heinous crime can be divided into three categories: sex slavery, labor trafficking and organ trade.
In the United States alone, sex trafficking generates $9 billion in revenue yearly, making it a thriving business in the black market. The most popular methods include pimp rings, strip clubs, escort services and massage parlors. Pimp rings usually deal with street prostitution, where a young girl or boy is forced to keep a nightly quota, many working on street corners or truck stops. Most of these teens come from poor broken homes, promised a better life and coerced into the business through psychological manipulation, physical abuse and drugs. The internet’s anonymity has become a useful platform for sex traffickers, using Craigslist and chat rooms to advertise these individuals, who are often under-age.
Labor trafficking is another key issue, where individuals are forced to work through the use of coercion, violence and fraud. Illegal immigrants are common victims of human trafficking, promised a steady job only to be confined to bad working conditions, low pay, and sometimes debt in sweatshop factories, domestic household workers, restaurants and farms. Victims may come from other countries either undocumented or with a temporary work visa. Incidents are commonly found in industries that demand cheap labor and overwork. Many traffickers trap their victims in debt or use threats of deportation to prevent them from leaving their job.
War and poverty-stricken countries like China, India, Syria and Vietnam have become known for their black-market tactics, and a worldwide increased demand for human organs. With organ trade bringing in $75 million in profit, many people are selling their kidneys and livers to make ends meet. Though a side of this is consensual, children and other victims are kidnapped and tricked into selling their organs. Accounts of orphans being trafficked from Central America and Mexico, only to be killed and sold for their organs. Although some of these donors willingly sell their kidneys, there is a great risk involved with lack of sanitary instruments, possible infections and further medical assistance after the surgery.
Human trafficking is an issue that does not always receive the attention of mass media, yet it is a thriving problem that still needs to be addressed. Persecution of child pornography and illegal sex slavery through the deep web and major cities has been an ongoing process in the FBI for years, and is still being dealt with. Human rights organizations and activists are pushing forward and reaching out to victims of human trafficking, educating others on the reality of this issue, raising awareness and saving lives everyday.
Opinion By Obeydah Chavez
U.S Department of Health and Human Services