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Human Trafficking

Samantha Neiswonger, Contributor

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The monthly awareness project started by Principal Rupp this year has truly educated students on a variety of topics like epilepsy, cancer, bullying, and AIDS.  Truthfully though, how many of us even knew about human trafficking before this January?  Many people do not understand what it is. Below is an overview of this criminal act from  humantraffickinghotline.org.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will.” It is a serious and dangerous crime that happens more than you might think.  Human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry that is based on the principles of supply and demand, like drugs or arms trafficking.

Many factors make children and adults vulnerable to human trafficking; however, human trafficking does not exist solely because many people are vulnerable to exploitation. Instead, human trafficking is fueled by a demand for cheap labor, services, and for commercial sex.  Human traffickers are those who employ force, fraud, or coercion to victimize others in their desire to profit from the existing demand.  To ultimately solve the problem of human trafficking, it is essential to address these demand-driven factors, as well as to alter the overall market incentives of high-profit and low-risk that traffickers currently exploit.

Human traffickers perceive there to be little risk or deterrence to affect their criminal operations.  While investigations, prosecutions, and penalties have increased throughout recent years, many traffickers still believe the high profit margin to be worth the risk of detection. Factors that add to low risk include: lack of government and law enforcement training, low community awareness, ineffective or unused laws, lack of law enforcement investigation, scarce resources for victim recovery services, and social blaming of victims.  Left unchecked, human trafficking will continue to flourish in environments where traffickers can reap substantial monetary gains with relatively low risk of getting caught or losing profits.

Community members can use online tools such as Slavery Footprint to see how human trafficking exists in the services and products they consume, buy fair trade and survivor-made products, and hold their favorite brands accountable for fair labor practices. Alongside the efforts of service providers, criminal prosecutors, and law enforcement, these community efforts can help to reduce the demand for sex and labor trafficking.

There are ways to help save a life. There is a National Human Trafficking Hotline that is always open. The number is 1-888-373-788 to receive help if you or you see someone commit human trafficking.   Every Wednesday, in January put a red X on your hand to raise awareness of human trafficking, and be ready to explain what that X means.

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