Just what is human trafficking?
Although the act of human trafficking has been going on for decades, it has only been a few years (2000) since the United Nations Trafficking Protocol (the Palermo Protocol of 2000, an international legal agreement attached to the United Nations) was established containing the first internationally agreed upon definition of human trafficking with the understanding that it is the force, fraud, and coercion from one person to the next that defines the essence of this crime.
People often tell me that they think human trafficking is moving people from one country to the next, and while that is a part of what the act really is, the heart of the issue is the mental and emotional movement of a person by another. The U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) (created as a result of the UN Protocol) leaves out what to me is the most important aspect of the definition and therefore makes it more difficult to prove a case in court against alleged traffickers.
The heart of the U.N. Trafficking Protocol defines human trafficking as: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring 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.
The US-TVPA is weak and should include in it the terminology consistent with the U.N. Protocol since it further distinguishes that traffickers use deception, and abuse of power, or of a position of vulnerability, when seeking their victims. Traffickers look for the vulnerable knowing how to deceive and manipulate them – the worst form of abduction – by causing one to lose trust in those they should trust the most. It takes a lifetime to “re-program” someone who has been manipulated in this manner.
Human trafficking must be placed at the top of the list of crucial social issues.
In current human trafficking advocacy circles, traditional methods of trafficking have been the focus and prohibit real discovery into the reality of what is causing modern-day slavery. Poverty, homelessness, runaways, broken families, high school drop-out rates, pornography (mass media): each are stand-alone social issues that merit our time and attention. Each brings with them a different set of problems that demand attention from those who are whole in our society. Yet when we look at human trafficking, we see all of these issues wrapped up into the one almost like a domino effect. Each of these issues is a contributing factor to those areas fueling human trafficking. And, I dare say, each of these issues are caused by one giant controlling the United States and manipulating our every move – greed. Traffickers not only look for vulnerable and at-risk youth, they target the male population to enlist them as buyers.
There is a major need to address root causes that are fueling this egregious crime against humanity in order to begin to restore our sense of dignity and value as human beings. With proper education we can work to bring the restoration of not only victims of human trafficking, but to all of us who are a part of American culture, however, we will never end human trafficking in this country if we do not acknowledge how we arrived here in the first place, and that will require us to look at the slow drip of cultural decline for the past several decades.
Cultural decline is a contributing factor in human trafficking.
Since the inception of Playboy Magazine in 1953 (which was inspired at a gathering of men that met to determine how to bring the economy back after the 2nd world war), the first time women were ever sold commercially, our culture has declined from a moral and a financial standpoint. Sex crimes have increased as the pornography industry (now a 97 billion dollar industry world-wide – Pornodemic Documentary) has increased. And, the United States leads the way in porn production throughout the world, but falls behind in profits. Research has proven that pornography is a root cause fueling human trafficking. (http://www.canadianbusiness.com/blog/tech/64531–u-s-leads-the-way-in-porn-production-but-falls-behind-in-profits)
We must heal our men if we are going to achieve a slave free America.
Since we have learned that pornography is a driving force to human trafficking and is a destroyer of life and relationships, we must reach inside and find the key to address demand. We need to ask the right questions:
• Why are untold millions of men willing to purchase other humans, including children, to gratify their unbridled passions?
• What is fueling this basic human instinct and turned it into such a barbaric evil against one another?
• Why are we as consumers willing to buy more and more product as if there were no tomorrow, even after we know that those products are made with slave labor including children?
• What has caused this insatiable thirst for commodities and material possessions?
• Why are families willing to sell their children for money?
• What has caused this type of poverty – financial, moral, and spiritual?
• Why are corporations thirsting for more and more profits on the backs of those that create the product that give them their profits?
Can we really end human trafficking?
With a confident yes, I truly believe we can end human trafficking in time. As an advocate for over 10 years in the anti-human trafficking movement, I strive each year to re-evaluate the current state of modern slavery in the United States. We are at a place where the foundation has been laid, a desire for education and awareness are on an all time high, and safe houses cannot be opened fast enough to take in the number of victims that are being rescued. Activists and advocates are working for free day in and day out to do their part in whatever way they can to make a difference. Methods of healing are being explored in order to bring restoration. Research has been done so thematic programming can be created to address the root causes. The notion that we can fight this and win is evident. In addition to bringing restoration to those that have survived victimization, creating a culture free of slavery continues to be on the forefront of our challenge and calls us to center on healing the very fabric of our society.
We must begin to reverse the effects of mass media onslaught into our lives over the past few decades and see where we can make adjustments that can indeed begin to reduce incidents of modern slavery. And while we need to continue to educate about what human trafficking is we must simultaneously bring healing to our minds and souls. That is the only way we will defeat human trafficking, modern-day slavery.