In recognition of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11 we are running a post written by Louise McLeod for the Women Graduates-USA website
“The bottom line is that this is no time for complacency. Right now, across the globe, victims of human trafficking are daring to imagine the possibility of escape, the chance for a life without fear, and the opportunity to earn a living wage.” –John F. Kerry, Secretary of State
Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. The total annual revenue for trafficking in persons is estimated to be between $5 billion and $9 billion. The United States is the second highest destination in the world for trafficked women. Different sources estimate revenue as high as $32 billion, increasingly at the hands of organized crime due to the high profits and the fewer risks compared to arms or drug trafficking, thus making human trafficking the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world at this time.
80 percent of people trafficked are women and girls and half are minors under the age of 13.
What is being done?
The problem of trafficking in women has been addressed at the international, national, and some state levels. In 2000 President Bill Clinton signed and the Senate ratified the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. The US Department of State annually publishes a Trafficking in Persons Report (http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/) on the efforts of governments to combat trafficking and issues a report to Congress as required under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/178
In January of 2013, the White House announced a Federal Strategic Action Plan for 2013-2017 entitled “Release of Coordination, Collaboration, Capacity: Federal Strategic Action Plan (SAP) on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, 2013–2017.” The SAP is a 5-year plan on providing and coordinating services to victims of human trafficking across the Federal agencies. http://www.ovc.gov/pubs/FederalHumanTraffickingStrategicPlan.pdf
Many states have Safe Harbor laws to prevent sexually exploited minors from being prosecuted. Safe Harbor Laws can increase funding for specialized services like long-term housing, mental health care, educational support, and job training to help these children recover. Thirty-nine states lack these basic Safe Harbor protections. Pennsylvania is one of those 39 states. PA Senator Greenleaf is currently sponsoring Senate Bill 851, to amend Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in human trafficking to provide for special relief to restore victim’s dignity and autonomy, adding provisions relating to safe harbor for sexually exploted children.
YOU can help!
Each and every one of us can help end or reduce this most heinous crime against our basic human rights. A small act by an individual, can change forever, the life of another person. Here is a list of things that you can do to help:
Get involved with a local organization in your area that works on human trafficking and provides services to human trafficking victims.
Participate in an anti-trafficking movement in your area.
Buy Responsibly! Educate yourself on the labor policies of companies to ensure that their products are free from slave labor and other forms of exploitations. If possible, buy Fair Trade products. Urge your Representatives to co-sponsor the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2014 (H.R. 4842)
Support legislation at all levels of government.
Help raise awareness. Publicize the hotline number – 1-888-373-7888 (text INFO or HELP to BeFree (2337233)
Seek support from institutions or assistance facilities in your area if you suspect that someone has been trafficked
Educate yourself about Human Trafficking by reading about it. Read the news. Human Trafficking is happening all around you.
Travel with socially responsible business that have put into place policies and programs that assist in spotting and reporting cases of child sex trafficking should they occur on their premises. Be aware of the Tourism Industry Code of Conduct and ask you hotel if they are a sponsor. (www.thecode.org).
Encourage the White House to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to protect children’s rights in this country.
What Forms of Trafficking Are Most Common?
Bonded Labor/Debt Bondage: In many cases, poverty induces people to accept loans which they promise to pay off with their labor. The “lender,” however, has no intention of ever allowing the loan to be paid in full.
Contract “Slavery”: This type of enslavement can also be a form of bonded labor. In it, people are offered employment but the contract they sign is just a way of entrapping them into modern day slavery.
Forced Labor: In the United States, forced labor—often prostitution, domestic service, agriculture, factory, restaurant, or hotel work—is a fact of life for tens of thousands of people. Foreigners are trafficked into this country from at least thirty-five countries, but most often from China, Mexico and Vietnam.
Sexual Trafficking/Sex Tourism: A 2005 UNICEF report estimated that “1.2 million children are sold into ‘sexual slavery’ every year and 2 million children—mainly girls, but also a significant number of boys—are believed to be part of the multi-billion dollar commercial sex trade.” Many women, and some men as well, are also victims of sex trafficking.
For more information go to http://www.wg-usa.org/website2014/january-11-national-human-trafficking-awareness-day/
Louise McLeod is a BCWAC partner and a member of the American Association of University Women – Doylestown
Louise McLeod is a BCWAC Partner and a member of American Association of University Women – Doylestown.