“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for
crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within
the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Amendment XIII – Slavery Abolished (1865)
All Americans (or most) should know that slavery was abolished in 1865. Meaning, that no one could forcibly exploit another person to carry out ANY deed for another person.And for the most part Americans are proud of the fact that we do not allow slavery in our country as it is looked down upon and seen as something that only happens in “other countries” or “third world countries. What most Americans are very, very ignorant of however, is that slavery does still exist in the U.S., in the form of Human Trafficking. Human trafficking is when a person is is forced through fraud, coercion, physical or psychological means to be cheaply and inhumanely forced into labor and/or sexual exploitation.
Human trafficking hides under the radar in our very own society. It hides behind dark, covered windows, barbed wired fences, and probably most shockingly some individuals in society that appear as though they have nothing to hide, yet unfairly force their “domestic servants” to do around the clock chores with no choice or means of anyway to escape. But most heart-breaking of all, this terrible crime hides behind the victims that we could very well see in our everyday lives. Outwardly, there is no way to distinguish the victims from you or I, or the coorporate business man walking down the street. These people hide in plain site.
It seems rather ridiculous to me that more people are concerned and rather well educated about the efforts of PETA, than they are to the rising issue of Human Trafficking. Especially since ANYONE can become a victim of this heinous crime. Men and women. Your brother, sister, mother, daughter, best friend or next door neighbor. Anyone.
Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. It has been estimated that around 27 million people world wide are trapped in slavery at the moment, 13 million of those people are children. It’s thought that approximately 20,000 individuals are trafficked INTO the U.S. every year. This estimate does not include the average 14,500-17,500 individuals that are trafficked IN American cities yearly. (I thought we abolished slavery?? Anyone else besides me becoming concerned about this issue???) Not to mention that ATLEAST 30% of Human Trafficking victims have some form of encounter with a healthcare professional DURING the time that they are being exploited and none of these people are recognized as a victim Human Trafficking by that healthcare provider. That means, that out of the 1 million children that are a part of the commercial human “trading system” world-wide that 300,000 of them see doctors. 300,000 children that see doctors with medical training, that SHOULD be able to recognize what is happening. 244,000 of these children are in the U.S. Again, I say, PROBLEM.
California has many laws in effect that are supposed to help combat human trafficking, but since it continues to remain under the radar (or maybe it’s just that we are choosing to be ignorant of what is really happening), California is one of the worst states in the union as far as Human Trafficking is concerned. Most of the cities that have been associated with this crime are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Fransisco, San Jose, and perhaps the most shocking of all Sacramento (which has recently been ranked the 2nd worst city in America for the exploitation of innocent victims of trafficking). There is something around thirty-two KNOWN trafficking rings in California. It’s thought that last year women comprised 74% of victims, children, 16% and men 10%.
Here’s the deal. NO ONE wants or asks to be exploited. Frequently, traffickers will recruit people through what seems like real and legitimate job ads such as being a hostess, domestics or various kinds of work in agriculture.
There are warning signs of companies that are involved in trafficking:
-Very strict security at the commercial establishment including barred windows, locked doors, isolated location, electronic surveillance. Women are never seen leaving the premises unless escorted.
-Labor trafficking, victims are often prohibited from leaving the work site, which may look like a guarded compound from the outside.
-Sex trafficking, the people being trafficked live no the same property as the brothel, strip clubs or other such establishments.
-Victims are escorted and kept a close eye on at the doctors, or hospitals.
Individuals that are being trafficked are controlled by any combination of fear, intimidation, abuse, and psychological controls. Most are controlled through some form of abuse.
The harsh truth is that Human Trafficking is modern day slavery. And it can happen to anyone, from any race, background or gender.
“The problem of human trafficking has reached into neighborhoods through
out California and is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the
world. Individuals are bought, sold, transported and held in inhumane
conditions for use in prostitution or as forced laborers. It would be morally
and socially irresponsible to ignore this problem and the victims it creates
in California every year.” Sally Lieber, California Assembly Member
September 21, 2005 – signing of AB 22