Human Trafficking: The New Era of Slavery
When the word slavery comes to mind in the present day most people think of it as something that has passed, a long and tragic historical event that involved the capture and exportation and exploitation of human beings as forced labor with no freedom of movement or choice. Slavery brings to mind the forcible deportation of Africans into the new world, associated with colonization and empirical money making ventures, like sugar, coffee and cotton. Yet, the reality of the situation is that slavery exists today, and on an even greater scale than it did during the empirical era.
Human trafficking is one of today’s most egregious human rights violations. Traffickers prey on the most vulnerable members of society: people burdened with poverty, disabilities and discrimination. Trafficking in persons refers to the illegal trade or “sale” of human beings for sexual exploitation or forced labor through abduction, the use or threat of force, deception and fraud. It knows no gender, race, age, or even boundaries (due to globalization). Perkins) Slavery today is often called by other names, like human trafficking and undocumented immigration as well as many other less savory monikers but it is still slavery and people are still stripped of human dignity, choice and human rights on a grand scale, be they women and children smuggled across national or international borders to forcibly participate in the shady sex trade or men, women and children smuggled across borders to work in unsanitary and even dangerous conditions in sweat shops, creating cheaply made garments or goods for export for little if any compensation, in a state of perpetual indentured servitude.
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There are even many known cases where women and children have been taken to other countries as forced domestic servants or nannies, with coercion and fraud as a tactic for the voluntary immigration of unknowing victims and their families, who often believe they have done their child a favor sending them somewhere to get an education and live in a nice house. Families often do not find out until it is to late, if they ever do, that they have put their child or their sister or wife in harms way by allowing them to leave the home to help someone cook, clean or care for their children. Bales, 1-3) Dr. Kevin Bales estimates that 27 million people live as slaves worldwide.
In his groundbreaking new book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Bales advances the thesis that much of contemporary slavery has become a quasi-industrialized institution: a brutal but efficient and profitable process of entrapment, exploitation, and abandonment. Slaves are lured or abducted from their homes, psychologically and physically intimidated, forced to work in de-humanizing conditions, and then discarded when they are too ill to work. Sage 4) The slavery of today is subtler, as there is no official government recognition of its existence in many nations, some would say including the US and there is a great deal of governmental inaction as millions of individuals in groups or alone are smuggled into other countries to provide labor for industries which cannot cull their own workers due to pa scale, conditions and pure greed.
The problem is often born of rural poverty as the people, who are given at least a minimal choice are usually made promises that are never kept and often end up in circumstances even more dire than those they are fleeing. (Askew 328) At least 700,000 persons annually, primarily women and children, are trafficked within or across international borders…. Many of these persons are trafficked into the international sex trade, often by force, fraud, or coercion….
Traffickers primarily target women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by poverty, the lack of access to education, chronic unemployment, discrimination, and the lack of economic opportunities in countries of origin. (1) (Nelson 551) Through deception and empty promises people and even children are shuttled in secret, often in the dark illegal, sometimes in frightening conditions to do work that no one else will do in places where they often cannot communicate and sometimes with real or threats of violence to control their actions and keep them working.
The human trafficking of women and children for the vice trades, mainly forced prostitution in a multitude of countries is a problem so monumental that most officials see no end where there is official recognition. Resources are poor for the destruction of even the most large-scale offenders and most are under the false impression that the women come voluntarily, knowing the life they will follow when they arrive.