Human Trafficking

     Jose Colon
10 grade, School of Information Technology at Eastside High School

[1st Place, 9th and 10th Grade Contest]

     “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” -- Nelson Mandela. This quote exemplifies how all people should treat one another. It is unjust that people are taken from communities based on false promises and false hopes given to them by people that they have never met. Many people who promise riches and salvation for leaving a current home or community by offering a better life are liars. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Unfortunately, men, women, and children are all possible victims of this system of “Human Trafficking”.

     Such a crime exploits young men and women and is horrific and very depressing. Women are especially vulnerable and the main targets when it comes to this type of exploitation. In many third world or developing countries, there are fewer opportunities for women. Consequently, women are easy prey to be deceived and lured by the false hope of job opportunities in the United States or Europe. Upon arrival to their destination, they are met by their handlers who look like “ordinary” people. However, once the unsuspecting victim is out of public view, the true nature of the handler is revealed. The victims are taken to a location where they are forced to work as prostitutes. Those who resist are beaten into submission. Threats are also made against the victim’s family if they do not comply. Left without hope and removed from any type of support from friends or family, the hapless victim feels that she has no other choice but to do her “master’s” wishes.

     Very often brothels are in the neighborhoods we live in hiding in plain sight. For instance, in an article published January 25, 2004, in the New York Times entitled “The Girls Next Door”, reporter Peter Landesman wrote about how a group of young Mexican women were working as sex slaves in a residential neighborhood in Plainfield, New Jersey. Mr. Landesman also reported how the United States was a major importer of sex slaves, and stated that Kevin Bates, president of “Free the Slaves,” America’s largest anti-slavery organization, estimates that there are thirty to fifty thousand sex slaves in captivity in the United States. Advertisements in Eastern European capitals like Kiev and Moscow offer positions as models, waitresses, or nannies in Paris, New York or Hollywood which lead vulnerable female victims to fall for this ploy. Russia was not known for sex trafficking, but when their economy fell, many well-educated women were easily swayed by the imaginary vision of a dream in Hollywood. Suffering economy hardships, desperate yet hopeful women were easily fooled into accepting the nanny, waitresses, and model “jobs” in the United States. Many victims traveled to Mexico where they were held prisoner before they were smuggled into the United States and sold into sexual bondage. In Mexico itself, however, sex traffickers are less subtle than those in Eastern Europe. Women are kidnapped on their way home from work or from dances and sold into the sex trade.

     To help put a stop to such a system of exploitation I suggest that we put more security cameras in the airports to look for possible suspects picking up women in and outside the airport. With more cameras, the authorities can identify possible suspects picking up women and then can take action. Higher scrutiny should be given to travelers coming form nations known to promote human trafficking. Most importantly, however, political asylum, and witness protection should be given to victims and their families so that they will feel safe to testify against their oppressors. Stiff sentences should be handed out to those convicted of promoting human trafficking. Outside the United States, especially in Mexico, pressure needs to be put on government officials to address the issue of human trafficking. Many traffickers work with corrupt officials to bring women into Mexico and then move them to the United States. Our country needs to exert monetary and economic pressure on the government to remove these corrupt officials and address the problem of human trafficking.

     In our country the public needs to be educated about this problem. Too many people feel that prostitution is a “victimless” crime. They don’t realize that the prostitute is the victim. We, as citizens, need to report suspected prostitution to the police.

     It is true that we can’t stop human trafficking completely, but we can expose it and help make people aware of this crime. Individuals are the source of justice because we can’t rely on the government too much because in some cases there are corrupt government officials and police officers. The way to weed these people out is to rely on the some good cops and officials and have them follow these corrupt officials and take pictures and document their corruption. Corrupt official should be prosecuted along with the traffickers and stiff sentences should be given out. The media can also be used to gain public support and draw attention to this problem. Men who patronize prostitutes should be arrested and their names and pictures published. If we can reduce the demand for prostitutes, we can reduce the number of women who are being exploited.

     Countries that are not stable are havens for traffickers because of one word, “desperation”. Desperation is the key factor when it comes to situations like these because people are willing to do anything for money, housing, and an overall better life. That is why we need to provide some sort of relief for these countries so they don’t fall prey to this madness. By building schools we can keep most children in school and out of the streets. If there is a starvation problem, we can give them food now and seeds so they can feed themselves in the future. A stable economy promotes a stable country, a country that has no need for human trafficking.

     In conclusion, human trafficking is a very problematic situation for all genders and ages. By heightening security at airports and border crossings, we can reduce the number of sex slaves entering our country. By using the media we can educate the public about this unjust form of human exploitation. Finally, by helping countries that are polluted with sex traffickers become economically and politically stable, we can reduce the number of potential victims. Prostitution is known as the “oldest profession,” so it is unrealistic to think we can stop the sex trade completely. However, we must do our best to reduce the number victims who fall prey to the unjust and vicious crime known as “Human Trafficking”.

Bibliography:

"Let's End Human Trafficking." Let's End Human Trafficking. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.

"United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime." UNODC. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.

"United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime." What Is Human Trafficking? N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.

BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.

Landesman, Peter. "The Girls Next Door." The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Jan. 2004. Web. 03 Apr. 2013.