Slavery: Tragic Memories in Our Past.

Human Trafficking Must NOT be any Part of our World’s Present or Future.

“It is up to each and every one of us to raise our voice against crimes that deprive countless victims of their liberty, dignity and human rights. We have to work together to realize the equal rights promised to all by the United Nations Charter. And we must collectively give meaning to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude”.

— Ban Ki-moon

Common misconception may be that slavery is a topic for the history books; something to be discussed in the halls of dusty universities in the company of civil war scholars and the like. While that perception may indeed be true, human slavery is also a modern day problem; today called human trafficking.

According to current human trafficking statistics, “over 27 million people are slaves today—more than during 400 years of the transatlantic slave trade. The sale of human beings is the third largest illicit trade following drugs and weapons, but is growing faster than both of these. An estimated 50% of the victims of human trafficking are children and 80% are women.” (www.freedom-summit.org)

In July, 2013, the FBI rescued 105 child sex-trafficking victims from all across the United States. The rescues were the product of Operation Cross Country, which is a part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative, a joint program by the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to fight child sex-trafficking in the United States.

The youngest of the victims was 9 years old. Another of the rescued victims told officials that she became involved in prostitution when she was 11.

“Many times the children that are taken in in these types of criminal activities are children that are disaffected, they are from broken homes, they may be on the street themselves,” FBI Acting Executive Assistant Director Kevin Perkins said, according to the network. “They are really looking for a meal, they are looking for shelter; they are looking for someone to take care of them.”

Another victim, identified as “Alex,” told interviewers she became a prostitute at the age of 16, when she felt she had no other options to feed and clothe herself. “At first it was terrifying,” Alex told interviewers, “and then you just kind of become numb to it. You put on a whole different attitude – like a different person. It wasn’t me. I know that. Nothing about it was me.” (www.huffingtonpost.com)

Children are the most vulnerable victims of this heinous crime, but they are not the only ones. Statistics about human trafficking confirm that human trafficking victims include men and women, and children of all ages.

“Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat, use of force or other means of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the receiving or giving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation.”

– Article 3 of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Crime

Human trafficking is a hidden crime, and the first step to combating it is to identify victims so they can be rescued and help bring their perpetrators to justice. One key to increasing human trafficking awareness is to recognize the signs in its victims. This is a crime that is exploitation based. That is to say that its victims feel powerless at the hands of their captors.

Identifying Red Flags is important in any efforts to stop human trafficking. Red flags focus on traffickers’ methods of control over their victims. The most prevalent red flags are: personal documents, wages, safety, freedom, working and living conditions. Traffickers will lure and trick their victims into situations far away from family, and in some cases, home country, so that they feel lost, destitute and desperate; willing to comply with every captor demand – just to stay alive.

Awareness is a powerful first step. Human trafficking is pervasive in all cultures worldwide. For the youngest victims – children – this cannot continue. Human trafficking prevention is the goal. Many steps are effective in this regard.

To protect children from exploitation, risk factors such as poverty and discrimination need to be addressed.

[The most effective considerations, work and proactive thinking on how to stop human trafficking include]:

Helping provide a living wage for parents so that their children do not have to work to support the family and can attend school instead

Lobbying governments and other partners to develop laws and strengthen child protection systems to prevent and respond to violence and abuse

Working with communities and faith-based organizations to change harmful societal norms that make children more vulnerable to exploitation

Supporting the training of professionals working with children including social workers, health workers, and police and border officials to help stop trafficking. (www.unicefusa.org)

PCI is vigilant and tireless in its efforts to enact effective human trafficking solutions. We are committed to ending slavery in our lifetime though economic empowerment, access to education, and poverty solutions. PCI has recently created a manual on Trafficking in Person (TIP), discussing the prominence of this issue in Ethiopia. Considering the high diasporas and migrations rates of Ethiopia, TIP persists at higher levels than other African countries. Not only does TIP destabilize local labor markets, it causes a shift in national population, affecting the market and economy. PCI’s manual describes the relationship between TIP and various vulnerabilities of Ethiopia, protection of TIP victims and prevention of TIP. By raising awareness of TIP and providing education on the prevention, protection and prosecution of TIP, PCI is helping to end human trafficking around the world and give all people everywhere a chance for a better future.