By Malvika Sawant and Rishi Bappanad
Human trafficking is a global phenomenon and one of the world’s most shameful crimes, affecting the lives of millions of people around the world and robbing them of their dignity. It has been manifested in the form of sex trafficking, bonded labor, and organ trafficking. It has developed into a billion-dollar industry aided by its investors, recruiters, and corrupt public officials. This core has allowed the gruesome industry to lead into globalization giving a foundation to platforms that forge documents, provide transportation, financial help, legal help, and many more unauthorized perspectives. It is a criminal activity that has been defined as the third most profitable business for organized crime, however it’s a serious issue in our society that often gets overlooked.
Traffickers deceive women, men, and children from all over the world and force them into exploitative situations every day. Human trafficking involves unjustified trade and enslavement of human beings making it the greatest unethical challenge to the modern world. It cruelly uses human deception to strip people of their self-worth and compel trafficked victims to sell their freedom. Traffickers take advantage of victims surrounded by an infested environment by luring them in with false promises of a better life. This sense of blind faith leads victims to a pit of darkness comprised of constant physical and sexual abuse because of desperation. The effects and scars that remain on the victims are unimaginable. Many trafficking victims end up experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, memory loss, anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, and other severe forms of mental trauma. Trafficking is the equivalent to modern-day slavery in the likes that victims are forced to be sexually exploited and forced to do various activities and tasks to which they do not consent to.
Our community, being the suburban Atlanta area, gets drastically affected by human trafficking. It is such a pity that over a 5-year span from 2003 – 2008, the total business of this industry in Atlanta went up from $232 million to $290 million. These amounts surpass the revenue generated from metro Atlanta’s illegal drugs and gun trade combined, highlighting the fact that Atlanta has one of the highest crime rates in the country!
Trafficking does not only affect the victims, but it also impacts negatively the global health and it fuels the growth of organized crime. In terms of health, STDs are very common among trafficking activities and the greater the amount of trafficking, the greater the spread of deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS is. The economy of any country is also deeply affected in a negative manner since in some places where people are seeking migration opportunities for employment, they end up being trafficked, and this results in significant remittance losses. Some more economic burdens that trafficking brings is that some states such as Minnesota are losing more money by not doing anything about trafficking than they would be if they donated to help combat trafficking.
Risks for trafficking include poverty, broken families, lack of knowledge in the area, and displacement. This only adds to the effects that trafficking has upon the victim as most of them already have a difficult background to deal with, and trafficking makes it even harder for victims to even find their will to live.
There are anywhere from 244,000 to 325,000 Americans at risk for sexual exploitation and trafficking each year and until more light is shined on the subject, this crime will not be brought under control.
Human trafficking is a grave crime that can only succumb by each one of us joining the fight against this unethical process. We must learn the indicators of human trafficking and be well informed about this ongoing crisis (see details in the publication from the US Department of State labeled, “Identify and Assist a Trafficking Victim” https://www.state.gov/identify-and-assist-a-trafficking-victim/). One can join local volunteering or support groups to help anti-trafficking movements in their community.
Some of the most influential ways to combat trafficking is by spreading awareness through social media, awareness-raising events, and reaching out to government officials regarding implementing different awareness and countering tactics to stop human trafficking.
There is substantial and compelling evidence that allows us to recognize that human trafficking is a serious crime. We must recognize, understand, and develop solutions to combat these grave atrocities and bring justice to survivors. There have been efforts to prevent the exploitation and trafficking of people trapped in this circuit, however, they are largely absent. There are still efforts emerging, but they must ignite as the efforts to date have been largely under-supported, unevaluated, insufficient, and uncoordinated. If you believe you have identified someone still in the trafficking situation, you ought to alert the law enforcement agency immediately by dialing 911, or the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888. Please keep in mind that it may be unsafe to attempt to rescue a trafficking victim since you have no way of knowing how the trafficker may react and retaliate against the victim and you. If, however, you identify a victim who has escaped the trafficking situation, there are a number of organizations to whom the victim could be referred for help with shelter, medical care, legal assistance, and other critical services.
To our readers in India, we encourage you to contact your local law enforcement agencies.
About the Authors:
Malvika Sawant is a sophomore at Johns Creek High School located in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a member of the Global Thrombosis Forum aspiring to enter the medical field.
Rishi Bappanad is a sophomore at Johns Creek High School in Atlanta, Georgia. I am a member of Global Thrombosis Forum, and I aspire to enter the financial field.