When thinking of human trafficking, a lot of things may pass through one's head, most of which are probably scenes from bad action movies. Human trafficking is a serious real-life problem though, and one that has a greater rate of occurrence in our own country and backyard than many people realize. Many people are looking for an avenue into the United States to make a better life for themselves, and while some desperately run across borders, others are smuggled. While the prospect of living in America is a great one to many people the world over, there are also those who just want to escape their current situations, regardless of where they end up, and through their travels are subjected to several injustices and even death. We will examine the issue of human trafficking in general, while also keeping in mind as well as discussing some key factors including public interest and policies regarding human trafficking. In addition, we'll take a look at some of the legal aspects of something that is highly illegal; specifically Nevada's legalization of prostitution. We will also provide a glimpse into the myriad evidence there is to support an end to this horrible actuality. Human trafficking is alive and well in many places, even reaching our backyards in southwest Florida with a large migrant farm worker population. But let's first take a look at something that one might not correlate with human trafficking: prostitution.
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Prostitution, in the majority of the United States, is as illegal as trafficking humans. However, in the state of Nevada, prostitution is state-sponsored, or legal. State- sponsored specifically allows the permitting of buying and selling women to a purchaser for all sexual acts elicited. Many of these acts are held in public areas such as brothels, massage parlors or even on the streets, to further bringing it to a behind the scenes service such as escorting. Prostitution forms come in a variety of ways that although it may be legal, does not decrease the amount of violence that a woman will endure while providing these services. Physical abuse and emotional safety is a high statistic that has been recorded amongst the women in the industry. The damage not only lies within the physical aspect, but largely on the psychological health of the woman herself. 81% of women in prostitution within brothels, or other prostitution employment, have no desire to be in that field and urgently want to escape (nevadacoalition.org, 3).
Many reasons that these women go into this form of employment are to establish a steady income that will provide stable housing, social services and medical treatment for themselves and/or their families. However, much of the income derived from this industry does not go the women themselves. The state of Nevada controls the prostitution industry with very high tax regulations. The individual county that the prostitution is being coerced within collects fees up to 45% of every dollar in order to maintain tourism, merchandising and promotion for upkeep (nevadacoalition.org, 1). Along with those costs, the continual battle for federal regulation is always in an uproar. The federal government does not look upon the legalization of prostitution highly and is in a continual battle in Congress to stop it immediately. It is only the laws that assume violation of human beings rights and liberties that are the valid support systems to keep this legal industry alive. When dealing with an economy that currently thrives off of every dollar, the "war on prostitution" sees no end in sight, for the simple fact that the demand and supply is in high popularity (Armentano, 1). To say what one woman can do with her body, is not the decision of the federal government; however where is the line drawn on who can make money off of that woman or women? Recent reports show that over one million women in the nation make their sole income off of the earnings of full-time prostitution (Armentano, 1).
But what happens when the act of prostitution no longer becomes voluntary? Thus leading to the question of where are these women coming from in order to establish the supply to support the demand? Well for starters, we do have a high formation of illegal immigrants that have been transported to America through 'trafficking'. The trafficking of women to the States is a high-profit, low-risk trade that exploits women in a slavery-like condition to profit the expanding sex-industry (Trafficking of Womenâ€¦, 1). To traffic a human being into United States, many organized crime leaders are manipulating the minds of foreign women into offering them domestic work and forcing them into prostitution upon arrival in the States. They bind these women through forces, such as rape and physical violence, into to performing sexual acts for money, in which the women see little to no portion of. These women are then transported to an area such as Nevada, where their passport documentation, or other travel documents, is confiscated and they become prisoners of "debt bondage" (Trafficking of Womenâ€¦, 3). In return for their silence and performance, many of these women are promised the safety of their families back home, as well as money, food and shelter while they are here.
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To further the argument of the trafficking of foreign women, much research is provided by the Coalition against Trafficking in women (CATW). The research shows that Caucasian males are more attracted to Latin American women and they will pay a high penny for the sexual involvement with these women. Latin American women are portrayed as dependent, erotic and sex-crazed, thus providing those in high demand within our nation (Trafficking of Womenâ€¦, 2). An estimated 50,000 women from the Dominican Republic and 75,000 from Brazil work in the United States sex industry (Trafficking of Womenâ€¦, 2-3). Alongside these numbers, many women come from the Europe, the Middle East and Asian territories to escape their current poverty levels and low socio-economic statuses (Trafficking of Womenâ€¦, 1-2). The availability for these women to gain any level of higher education or income in their home country is low. The United States has always been a prominent nation with a high level of freedom and wealth; which offers many women the dream of a better life for themselves and their families. The organized crime leaders are offering them false hope under false pretenses. Unfortunately, by the time these women are realizing the truth, it is already too late.
"The average cost of a slave around the world is $90" (1). Slavery is still a serious problem globally, but the slaves are being used by different people. Instead of serving rich white land owners or ancient kings, they serve evil dictators and generate money for low income criminals. The effects they have on society depend on how they are being used. They can range from murder, violence, disease propagation and family displacement. These direct consequences lead to stress on societies that are often already stricken with poverty.
We see millions of children being stolen in Rwanda and turned into soldiers. This type of human trafficking directly destroys communities. The young children carry weapons and are often involved in murdering the people of the communities around them. A group of rebels who were unhappy with the government broke away and began a war with the state. The rebels began to run out of new recruits so they now steal children and train them to be soldiers.
In America, prostitution is the number one form of slavery. "Over 100,000 of our own young women and children are subject to commercial sexual exploitation in the United States every Year" (2). The other effects of this type of slavery include the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases within a community and the displacement of women and girls from their homes, which brings domestic consequences.
Human trafficking is primarily caused by poverty. A society that is poor creates angry, desperate people who look for alternative methods to provide for themselves. Anger due to poverty results in distrust in and dissention from the government. In Rwanda, a group of rebels who were unhappy with the government broke away and began a war with the state. The same thing happened in Haiti. Desperation results in things like prostitution. Most women who sell their bodies in America today do it because they are impoverished, and this is often complicated by drug addiction. Either way, human trafficking is by and large a poverty problem in the world today.
An interesting thing to note about human trafficking is that it doesn't bring many benefits. Pimps almost never make enough to leave the ghetto. Much of this trafficking is done by people who are impoverished themselves. The cost of a human is only $90 after all.
National policy on human trafficking exists, but it is a never ending problem using the methods we have today. Prostitution is fought on our streets through arrests and sting operations, but the nature of the issue means that these things will only go so far. The problem is rooted in poverty, and there has never been a large civilization without at least some of its population living in poverty.
Human trafficking is an awful byproduct of poverty in societies. However it is important to note that the fact that some of us are in poverty means that others can live well, and would not live as well if the people in poverty made more money. Eliminating poverty is a problem no one has yet to solve. So what do we do knowing that enforcement will only work to a point? It is the best idea to stick with the status quo, and our government needs to maintain its tough policies against traffickers.
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Human trafficking is nothing new to our society. It has been involved with many cultures throughout history from Ancient Egyptian to the Revolutionary American. From these cultures we have learned nothing but negative things. Today we still see human trafficking take place around the globe and even in our own country. This, trafficking in person, is known as the modern day slavery. This modern day form of slavery mostly affects both women and children, which are often tricked into better jobs and lives, but then are forced into uncivil and hostile work. These actions have forced Congress and the President of the United States to form new policies, most notably the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). This law was created in 2000 and has been recently revised in 2005.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was adopted by former President George W. Bush and was signed into law October 28, 2000. What this Act did for human trafficking was "enhance three aspects of federal government activity: protection, prosecution, and prevention"(justice.gov). First, the protection provided victim assistance only in the United States. This made the victims eligible for federally funded benefits such as health. Secondly, it provided protection by putting more of an emphasis on existing crimes such as forced labor, slavery, fraud and coercion, and involuntary servitude. Punishment for these criminal acts became more serious, and called for immediate restoration and the loss of everything they owned. This is equivalent to the trying to cheat the government of taxes. Finally, if the victim is from another country and the only way it could escape the government will provide assistance for getting you to another country. By having this prevention act it would also strengthen other countries laws on human trafficking.
In 2003, the TVPA was revised and new things were added into this beneficial policy. This altered version of the TVPA focused more on protection. One of the main things was trafficking victims were now allowed to sue their traffickers. This would hopefully make traffickers more aware of what they were doing. The 2003 TVPA also incorporated a new task force monitored by the United States government. The premise of this task force was to monitor and combat trafficking. Some of the activities that this task force monitored was measuring and evaluating progress, expand interagency procedures, engage in efforts to facilitate cooperation among counties, and examine the role of the international sex tourism industry (justice.gov). The important thing about this task force was that they enforced the policies of the TVPA like a police task force would do.
The most recent Trafficking Victims Prevention Act was in 2005. In this year's act it established new anti-trafficking resources, which included programs that could assist state and local law enforcement, in the fight against human trafficking. There was also a focus on expanding a victim assistance programs. Such as pilot programs to establish residential rehab facilities, one of these programs was to aid children.
Through the Trafficking Prevention Victims Act policy there has been a major emphasis on modern day slavery. This act focused on bringing down those traffickers who thought they could get away with it. The three P's: protection, prosecution, and prevention, were a large part of bringing this horrific criminal act down.
Human Trafficking is a concept that can get many people to stand behind the government's laws and personally want to get involved themselves. This is a topic the public has sympathy for, because they can see that these victims are someone's child, someone's mother, someone's loved one. If one thinks about how they would feel if their own loved one were to be treated in such a disturbing manner, they were cringe at the thought. It makes people want to stay involved. The fact that in Nevada prostitution is illegal stirs a lot of controversy. This is in our own country. There are different groups dedicated to the investigation and rescue of the victims of human trafficking, such as the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Chicago Workers Collaborative, Chicago Foundation for Women (because Chicago might have the most human trafficking in the U.S) and the Department of Human Services. With the efforts of these units and the watchful eye of U.S citizens, we can combat trafficking and sexual exploitation one victim at a time. The public wants to help? Donate financially, donate time in spreading awareness, and always report a suspicious activity. If public interest keeps spreading on this serious matter, something will be done about it.
Keeping all this in mind, one would be hard pressed to ignore this issue any longer, let alone forget about it. Human trafficking is a serious problem on both the international and domestic scale, even reaching our own backyards. Situations with slave works in southwest Florida alone seem to be rising in the past few years, with instances as recent as March. Human trafficking and slave labor is a sobering issue in this area, but there are actions being taken to help end it. Since 1993, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has been working to help put an end to slave labor and human trafficking in Florida. In addition to raising awareness and training people on how to identify and help possible slave workers, they've successfully negotiated several "penny-a-pound" increases in price to Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Burger King, which add to worker's wages. In addition to their hard work in support of slave workers in the area, the CIW just wrapped up a Modern Slavery Museum exhibition on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Also during the visit, Laura Germino of the CIW was honored by the State Department for her leadership in the fight against human trafficking. She was among eight people from across the globe to be honored, which is a great accomplishment, also highlights the severe problem it poses in Florida and southwest Florida specifically. While there are many different aspects to the issue of human trafficking and different opinions on the matter, one thing is quite clear, and that is that every effort to end it must be fully exerted.