Note: The following article was originally published at Culture Beat Project. We reprint it here with permission.
On Saturday, October 20th, thousands of abolitionists converged on their cities to promote awareness of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Dressed in black, and carrying signs, these anti-slavery activists marched in the streets to see the end to forced labor and sex trafficking.

The Walk For Freedom is the largest fundraising event for A21, a nonprofit organization that combats slavery across the globe. The group was founded by Nick and Christine Caine ten years ago and has seen significant success in their mission to free slaves worldwide.

A21 assists human trafficking victims through their reach, rescue, and restore approach. This involves preventing people from becoming victims through educational programs, presentations, and raising awareness. The organization also collaborates with law enforcement to identify victims through hotlines that victims can call to receive help. They also work to provide for the needs of those who have been rescued through medical treatment, employment, education, and counseling.

While A21 and other organizations have made a difference, there is still more work to be done.

THE PLIGHT OF THE MODERN SLAVE

Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world. According to the U.S. Department of State, human trafficking is defined as “the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.”

Victims of human trafficking come from a variety of different backgrounds. The majority of victims are female and more than half are minors. There are several methods that slave traders use to get workers.

One of the ways these criminals recruit slaves is through preying on runaway children. They lurk in clubs, campuses, gas stations, malls, and other areas and they manipulate their victims into slavery by promising them that they can earn significant sums of money. Indeed, it is estimated that runaway children are typically recruited into slavery within 48 hours after fleeing their homes.

In many cases, young women are enticed into sex slavery through romantic relationships. A trafficker will seduce a woman and then ask them to engage in sex acts with other men as a way of earning income. It is an emotional manipulation that is typically perpetrated on minors who are emotionally vulnerable.

Traffickers also prey upon foreigners, luring them to the United States with promises of earning a greater income that they can send back to their families. These individuals are brought into the country through legal and illegal means. It is only when they arrive in the U.S. that they realize that they are being sold into slavery.

These victims are typically helpless because they are not fluent in English and are unfamiliar with American laws. Moreover, the slavers threaten these individuals with deportation or physical force if they try to go to the authorities.

TYPES OF SLAVERY

There various types of slavery, but the two most common forms are sex slavery and forced labor. Sex slavery involves forcing victims into prostitution, pornography, and exotic dancing. They are typically found in massage parlors, brothels, escort services, street corners, and private homes.

Victims that are forced into labor are made to work as housekeepers, farmhands, and other jobs. They typically work at jobs related to textiles, agriculture, construction, domestic servitude, and food service.

Slaves are routinely subjected to both physical and emotional abuse. If they do not please their masters, they are beaten and dehumanized. Nena Ruiz, a former slave from the Philippines, wrote a piece for The Atlantic in which she described her treatment:

“I felt that my boss disliked everything I did, no matter how hard I tried. She told me I was ignorant and brainless, and, as I later alleged in civil court, she hit me and pulled my hair, and left me with bruises and cuts.”

Ruiz, like many other slaves, was only given enough food to keep her alive. Slavers often treat their victims like animals, refusing to give them medical attention. Tragically, if a slave becomes too sick, it is not uncommon for their masters to murder them rather than pay for their health care.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING BY THE NUMBERS

Human trafficking is an industry that has been studied by many different organizations and governments. The statistics related to the practice are both astounding — and disturbing. While the industry has remained hidden for decades, it has now become a $150 billion industry.

Here are some of the most pertinent numbers related to human trafficking and slavery:

  • In 2017, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 24.9 million people were victims of trafficking worldwide.
  • Only 1% of human trafficking victims are rescued.
  • Female victims constitute 71% of human trafficking victims. 20% of these are minor girls.
  • 50% of all trafficking victims are children.
  • According to UNICEF, 2 million children are sold into prostitution
  • 5 million slaves currently exist in the United States.
  • Human trafficking has become more profitable than the illegal drug trade.
  • 17,000 to 19,000 slaves are trafficked into the United States annually.

ELIMINATING THE MODERN SLAVE TRADE

One of the reasons why the modern slave trade has been allowed to thrive is because most people do not know that it exists. Many in the western world assume that slavery ended when their countries abolished the practice. Unfortunately, certain criminals have continued to practice slavery despite its illegality.

Raising awareness of human trafficking is one of the essential priorities in the fight against global slavery. In the United States, slavery is being practiced right under our noses. Indeed, you may have even interacted with slaves without even knowing it. Joining an organization that focuses on building awareness of human trafficking is a great way to oppose the practice.

Here are some of the more prominent groups:

Many of the products we purchase on a daily basis are manufactured using slave labor, which means that we are unwittingly contributing to the slave trade. The Department of Labor has released a list of products that are typically manufactured by victims of human trafficking — one of the ways we can combat slavery is by attacking the profits of traffickers.

The fact that slavery still exists in the United States even after thousands of Americans died to end the “peculiar institution” is tragic. But the more we educate people about human trafficking, the more abolitionists we can create. Ending modern slavery will not be an easy feat, but if enough people become willing to do their part to destroy the slave trade, we can see millions of people freed from bondage.

Jeff Charles is the founder of The Culture Beat, a blog with a solution-centered focus on the culture from a conservative perspective. He is an avid news junkie and lover of all things nerdy. He has written for a number of business and political sites, including Small Business Trends and Business2Community.

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