Human Trafficking: Stolen People…Stolen Dreams.

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“I am…any race…any age…any nationality…held against my will.” Human trafficking has been described as the biggest Human Rights challenge of the century…a modern day slavery. Are we turning a blind eye towards violation of humanity’s basic right: Freedom?

A walk on the beach ending in a night spent in a dungeon, only to wake up to a life of slavery and oppression. The crime? Being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Human Trafficking is a global concern and has been so for decades. Being the most modern form of slavery, human trafficking happens right under our noses without being detected. The little boy you see every day washing cups at the corner tea stall was probably trafficked for his organs. After the removal of his kidney, he was dumped to clean tables for daily meals. For all we know, he had been the class monitor, kidnapped on his way to school.

Human trafficking is the trade of humans, the trade of lives, the trade of freedom. Once sold, there is no going back. Slavery is alive and well in the 21st century. There are more people enslaved today than at any other time in history. According to a research, today slaves are cheaper than they have ever been in history. Due to the increasing population, and more globalization, vulnerable and gullible people are easily trapped.

The Industry

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Human trafficking is one of the largest growing illegal industries in the world and is second only to the trade of drugs. $32 billion dollars in profits are generated by this industry every year. If not controlled in time, human trafficking might take the lead because unlike drugs, humans can be used again and again. This $150 billion industry is presently trading more than 20.9 million people out of which 55% are women and girls. Once entered in this trade, victims find it hard to escape. A woman trafficked for sex is sold to multiple people, each time earning her pimp more than the last time, accruing to the value addition to her training and experience. It is estimated that a female sex worker earns her dealer approximately $250 million dollars in a year. Girls as young as 12 years of age are trafficked for sex. If this is not inhumane, then what is.

With the increase of industrialization and accumulation of wealth in a few hands, demand for medical facilities has increased. With diabetes on the rise, organ deterioration has become common and the need for organ donors is felt deeply. Such a gap between demand and supply is filled by human trafficking. Vital organs such as kidney and liver are harvested from the bodies of captured victims. These people are often forced or sometimes paid a meagre sum for the organs. More often than not, such people fail to survive.

The Hotspots

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Hotspots of Human Trafficking can be detected if we look closely. Besides the underdeveloped countries which are suffering from acute poverty and over population, the new targets are the refugees. Refugees are the leftovers of turmoil, who remain unclaimed. Refugees lack stability, safety and an identity which puts them in a vulnerable position in the new land where they are, but do not belong. Such people, majority of whom are women and children, because their men have already been killed/lost in the national turmoil, are susceptible to trafficking. They are easily lured into false promises because such people have no one to turn to. They do not have an Embassy to protect them and are basically the unwanted citizens of the world. These leftovers are picked and trafficked easily without the fear of being caught.

Human Trafficking flourishes extensively in the African continent. With poor socio-economic conditions, unawareness and scientific and medical backwardness, the people of Africa have been most prone to slavery since ages. History tells us that Africans were largely identified as slaves, until the much recent revolt against Apartheid. Nonetheless, the situation hasn’t changed much. In poor countries like Sudan, children are orphaned at a young age when their parents die due to HIV and can be easily captured. Families with a large number of children, sell some of them in exchange of money. Traffickers make lucrative offers of employment in foreign countries to the naïve people and exploit them monetarily and then physically.

How Trafficking Affects The Victim

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  • Women and girls trafficked for sexual slavery are raped, beaten, starved, drug abused, and tortured to kill their spirit and teach them acts of sex. Such females often lose the will to live and thus develop suicidal tendencies.
  • In most cases such women encounter HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases due to unprotected sexual acts and lack of medical attention. These diseases add to the physical sufferings of the victims.
  • People captured for organ harvesting are seldom provided medical care. They catch infections due to improper medical procedures and often die on the operating table. Those who survive are generally ruined for life and are never able to live a normal life again.
  • Victims suffer acute physical and psychological trauma. They also have a tough time proving their stories to officials who could help. Laws are so twisted that the victim finds it extremely difficult to avail justice.

How Trafficking Affects Us

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  • Traffickers are usually unsuspicious people who can be anywhere, from family and friends to workplace and neighborhood. Increase in the profitability of this trade will result in increase in the presence of such disguised criminals around us.
  • Sex trafficking promotes HIV which spreads from one infected sex worker to at least twenty more and the chain continues. HIV is thus becoming an epidemic due to increased sex trafficking.
  • Human trafficking is stripping people of their basic right, for which wars have been fought and lives have been taken, i.e. freedom. It is developing an imbalanced society which is more distorted than ever before.

What Can We Do?

  • We can do our parts in helping fight human trafficking by being informed about how things operate and the stats within your city or area of residence. Spread the word and help educate people around you about the seriousness of the issue and engage them in being conscious as well.
  • Talk to your children about human trafficking. Since children are the easiest targets, it is necessary that they are alert at all times. According to a study 65% of human trafficking cases involved people who were known to the victim. Create a free space for your children to talk about anything that they find strange or are unable explain a certain someone’s behavior towards them.
  • Anyone can identify a victim by certain indicators and signs. Here is how you can identify whether a person is being trafficked:
  1. Such victims are spotted usually at airports from where they are transported to other countries
  2. Victims usually seem uninformed about the purpose of their journey.
  3. Often such victims are tattooed.
  4. Try to question such people about them. If their answers seem rehearsed, they are probably being targeted.
  5. Poor living conditions are another important indicator of foul play.
  6. Victims often display an inability to speak to an individual alone.
  7. Victims show evident signs of physical abuse.
  8. They are usually submissive or fearful.
  9. Usually under-aged and in prostitution.

When you feel that a person is being trafficked, do not intervene, instead inform the police.

Those who have been victims of human trafficking have known life worse than death. A good part of the world is trapped in it and the numbers are ever increasing. Something must be done. Now. Because is slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

Join hands and help us fight against Human Trafficking by spreading the word and sharing this article under the hashtag #NotForSale

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