Human Trafficking: What to Know About This Global Issue

Diamond Scott, Staff Writer

Sick, horrifying, disgusting, and unimaginable are just a few terms used when the subject of human trafficking comes to mind. It’s terrifying that humans are capable of causing such harm and trauma to each other; it’s beyond disbelief.

The U.S government defines human trafficking as the trade of other humans through force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Human trafficking has been a serious issue since the late 1820s and the problem has gotten increasingly worse since then.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), an organization dedicated to advancing social justice and promoting decent work by setting international labor standards, estimates that in 2016 – the most recent year that data is available – 40.3 million people regardless of age and gender, are victims of human trafficking around the world. They reported that 81% are trapped in forced labor, 75% are women and girls, and 25% of them are children.

Trafficking is a serious issue that instills fear throughout the globe because it can happen to anyone, anywhere. Experts agree that it is important to be cautious and alert at all times in order to not only know the signs of trafficking, but to protect yourself.

According to Polaris, an organization working to eliminate modern-day slavery worldwide, the warning signs for victims of human trafficking include aspects of their lives in their work or living conditions, poor mental or physical health, abnormal behavior, and a lack of control in their lives. Some of the specific behaviors within these areas include not having free will, being fearful, anxious, or depressed, working excessively long hours, living at place of employment, and avoiding authority figures/law enforcement.

Crystal Isle was a victim of trafficking and now speaks out against it. In 2016 she shared her story via The Guardian in an effort to help fight against trafficking. In the article, she talks about her ordeal and goes into detail about her life being trafficked. Isle recounts the treatment and pain she had to endure and provides detail about the domestic violence, sexual assault, exploitation, and forced labor she suffered. As a result of her experience, she developed anxiety issues and suffers from post-traumatic stress. However, it wasn’t until she was arrested for possession of drugs, an incident that forced her to lose custody of her son, that she was able to fully escape that tragic and painful life.
Isle is one of the lucky ones who was able to escape and make a new life for herself, which is what motivates her to combat this global issue. In the article she states, “I am the exception to the rule. I am one of a handful of victims that has survived to lead a different life. Now, I am determined to be part of the solution: to raise awareness and to agitate for a change in policy and the law. I hope you will lend me your encouragement.”

The U.S. is high on the list of leading human-trafficking countries. According to USA Today writer Cara Kelley, “the State Department found the top three nations of origin for human trafficking victims were the United States, Mexico and the Philippines.” Kelly also notes that State Department estimates reveal that “in the U.S., sex trafficking victims include immigrants as well as American citizens” and that “According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1 in 7 of the more than 23,500 runaways reported to the nonprofit organization were likely victims of child sex trafficking.”

Combating human trafficking, although unlikely to occur to most people, is a significant enough problem that it is important to learn a few ways to protect yourself. These include having your phone on you at all times as well as pepper spray and other deterrents, being aware of your surroundings, avoiding walking alone if possible, acting fast and not hesitating to fight back, not trusting unfamiliars easily, listening to and trusting your instincts, and being ready for anything.

Your safety matters and it’s important that everyone is aware of the possible dangers that are lurking in our world. So, keep strong and remember the warning signs and methods to defend yourself.