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Human trafficking deserves our attention

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An illustration of three handcuffs.
Illustration by Makenna Timoteo | Staff Illustrator

It is everyone’s responsibility to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, is recognized by the U.S. government as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery according to the National Institute of Justice.

With most of this activity hidden in the shadows it is easy to ignore- Human trafficking is an epidemic which desperately requires more global attention and action.

Human trafficking has vigorously occurred on international, domestic and local levels long before Colonial America’s existence. According to a study by the International Labour Organization, over 20 million innocent individuals are victims of this modern-day slavery. The state of Texas recorded 792 cases of human trafficking in 2017 alone.

Two individuals were arrested recently in Fort Worth, TX, for kidnapping and forcing a teenager into prostitution. The suspects were accused of placing advertisements on several websites about the 18-year-old and then driving her to various North Texas motels.

With 55 percent of trafficking victims being women and girls, and 45 percent being men and boys, all individuals are at risk of exploitation.

Human trafficking victims are involved in the production of many products bought and sold throughout the world. Slaves in West Africa harvest the cocoa we consume in chocolate. Slaves in Brazil make charcoal used to run smelters that make steel for our cars. Many other food products and raw materials like tomatoes, shrimp, cotton, diamonds, sugar and gold are tainted by slavery.

Modern-day enslavement is an issue requiring all forms of public exposure. It is no different than the slavery of Africans that plagued the world for over 300 years. For every cable, online and newspaper organization that fails to treat the issue as such, a life is taken. Innocent people are treated as waste that no longer matter to the general public.

The fight for civil rights is not finished and it is a nonpartisan obligation on political organizations to include efforts aimed at reducing and stopping human trafficking. The only way to raise public awareness is through education, advocacy and more government interaction. Individuals with resources, like celebrities, must begin to use their platforms to help combat this issue.

Actor and investor Ashton Kutcher co-founded Thorn, which fights, “to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and stand up to child traffickers.” Kutcher sat in front of Congress members to discuss this enslavement of children. It is going to take similar efforts from his colleagues in order for the issue to see even the slightest reduction.

Raising public awareness may not ever put an end to human trafficking as a whole, but every voice raised could equate to another life saved. Organizations combating human trafficking, like the Polaris Project, Prajwala and the Children’s Organization of Southeast Asia, deserve to be recognized on a global level.

Human trafficking can no longer be in the vicinity of minor issues that fail to receive the surveillance of the public. It is happening in both urban cities and rural areas. It is happening in both heavily and lowly-populated countries. Human trafficking is an issue everywhere.

There are children, adolescents and adults depending on the public to aid them in their inescapable situations. Innocent people are being refurbished into mistreated and abused servants, while traffickers are rewarded with a profit for their disregard for human lives.

To report any potential human trafficking activity, contact the National Human Trafficking toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

– Jaden Edison is an electronic media sophomore

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