Human Trafficking: Putting a Price Tag on Human Dignity

Senator Dianne Feinstein says that victims of human trafficking are “abused mentally and physically, forced to take drugs, forbidden from going out in public and even denied food and water”. But what is human trafficking? Human trafficking is defined as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”. People are deceived and taken to a trafficking ring that ends up destroying them mentally and physically, making them unable to achieve the American Dream.

“Often there’s a perception that victims are teen runaways or come from homes in which no one cares about them. That could be the case. But there’s another face of human trafficking victims that may not be as familiar. The average age of a victim in the US is 12 years old”. This means that before their life has really started, children are already taken and held captive. It does not matter that they have plenty of years to escape. It is almost impossible to leave your owner, especially if the victim is that young. In addition, if this person is held hostage, there is no way they can achieve the American Dream.

Imagine a “young girl goes on vacation abroad. She is instantly taken by a charismatic man who promises to show her around and to take care of her. She feels safe. She has no idea that he has much more sinister things in mind”. This is what happens to most people who are kidnapped. When they are most vulnerable, a trafficker will trick them into coming with them by making them think they will be protected and safe. Little do they know they are going to be used as labor and abused countless amounts of times. If this continues to happen, there will be more and more people becoming untrusting of society, leading to them being unproductive members of society, that is, if they ever escape.

With the unfortunate win of Donald Trump comes four years of terribleness for the victims. “A United States senator just sent the Department of Homeland Security a letter asking for the immediate investigation of Donald Trump’s modeling agency after a publication by media outlet, Mother Jones, in which Trump’s company was accused of trafficking illegal immigrants willing to work as models”. Americans might have made the wrong move by voting for him to be the president of this sacred country for the next four years. He will bring about a time of fear that is worse than ever seen before. And because he is president, there are also minorities who cannot achieve the American Dream anymore. What ever happened to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? There have already been protests against him because he will clearly destroy the United States of America.

A big issue with human trafficking is the amount of harassment that people must endure when they are taken. Karla Jacinto, now a human rights activitist, was reportedly raped 43,000 times by the age of 16. She “says she was forced to sleep with at least 30 men a day over four years as a young teenager—but now travels the world helping other victims of sexual slavery”. This problem even occurs in places like Kansas, as “federal prosecutors in Kansas and Missouri…charged four men with commercial sex trafficking related to an international FBI-led investigation”. Just these two accounts alone show the severity of human trafficking and why it needs to be taken seriously.  If nothing is done to stop these problems, the issue will only get worse.

There are people out there who are not afraid to capture those who they see fit, like a man named Mr. Mucino. “According to the workers and their lawyers, Mr. Mucino paid weekly salaries for 11-hour days that worked out to be below the minimum hourly wage of $9. Two workers interviewed said salaries started at $450 a week for a dishwasher and increased at different positions in the kitchen. The federal complaint stated that each restaurant grossed $50,000 per week, which was not reported for state or federal taxes. The authorities said Mr. Mucino operated some of the business on the books, endorsing payroll checks to 28 employees”.. It is people like him who make it impossible to achieve the American Dream.

Lastly, some stories call children of human trafficking “prostitutes”. According to journalist Kevin M. Ryan, “Call them sex slaves, rape victims, or exploited children. But kids too young to give consent to sex should not be referred to with a word that implies that they chose this line of work or receive any benefit from it.” He is entirely right about this. These children did not choose prostitution as their career pathway. There is a fine line between prostitution and human trafficking, where trafficking is forced and prostitution is voluntary. Although some might say human trafficking makes victims stronger in the end, this is not acceptable. It crushes their life and makes it unbearable.

‘Slavery is a cancer that is spreading across the world,’ said Mauritanian politician Biram Dah Abeid, head of the anti-slavery Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement. 

If something is bad enough to compare it to cancer, which is clearly a big problem in today’s society, then that indicates it is a severe issue. Something needs to be done to fix human trafficking. It destroys the chance of someone achieving the American Dream, and it disables them from having a voice in society. These victims will not live to their maximum potential, and they will not be able to shape the future for the children of tomorrow. A world without human trafficking is a world of greatness, and without it, anything could be possible.

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Amin Ladhani
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Amin Ladhani is a writer for Affinity Magazine and the assistant manager of Joe’s Tobacco & Convenience Store. He has worked at Kumon and volunteers as a teacher for a religious education class. In addition to his severe Starbucks addiction, he is a food enthusiast, Netflix aficionado, and LGBT+ rights activist who wishes to pursue a medical degree in the near future. Follow him on Twitter/Instagram: @aminee810.

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