"None but ourselves will free our minds"
-Robert "Nesta" Marly
Happy New Year Beautiful People,
It has been far too long...
Modern-Day Slavery in 2023
It was first declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January 2010; however, officially, the Trafficking Victims Protections Act was enacted in 2000. When I decided to write about this topic, It stirred up a lot of emotion. In this era of social media, technological advancements, diversity and inclusion, "me too," "Black Lives Matter," and so many other initiatives and movements to count, I am writing about modern-day slavery...
Unless it is highlighted via an extraordinary interest story in the media or news or through Hollywood, rarely is modern-day slavery, otherwise known as Human Trafficking, a topic of discussion. Though we know slavery as a historical vile, dark stain of this country's past-there is a considerable commonality shared with today's human trafficking, capitalism. Human Traffickers generate billions by kidnapping millions of individuals in terrifying conditions around the world, this includes the United States.
Human traffickers utilize tactics of violence, threats, violence, manipulative tasks, and even debt to force victims into the sex trade or forced labor. The faces of those pulled into the world of human trafficking are diverse; they are men, women, and children, but in one way or another, are placed in a vulnerable position to be trafficked. Human labor is a hot commodity; research points to several industries that use human trafficking in the United States, and why not? It is a market-based economy that relies on supply and demand, with high profit limited and low risk.
As sick as this is, it has become darkly accepted in our backyard. We do not discuss human trafficking openly in schools or therapeutic spaces such as mental health facilities (programs/workshops). I recently worked with a client who fell victim to human trafficking due to running away from home. She was a teen with no family she could turn to; human traffickers have a knack for getting the most vulnerable, and my client was no different. When she broke "free" her hell was just the beginning, as the trauma of her experience would later bleed into her interpersonal relationships and intersect with domestic violence, physical abuse, and drug addiction.
Human trafficking thrives off of power, exploitation, and control, especially towards women and children. Its sustenance is poverty, unemployment, displacement, lack of knowledge or experience, broken families, and cultural practices. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that an estimated 12.3 million fall victim to human trafficking and more than 14,500 are trafficked into the United States yearly.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the states with the highest number of human trafficking:
Mississippi - 6.32 per 100k
Nevada - 5.77 per 100k
District of Columbia - 5.73 per 100k
Missouri - 4.30 per 100k
Nebraska - 3.60 per 100k
California - 3.32 per 100k
Florida - 3.30 per 100k
Arkansas - 3.26 per 100k
Texas - 3.25 per 100k
Oregon - 3.19 per 100k
It is so jarring that most victims and survivors of human trafficking may not even understand their situation (my client didn't for a very long time) or may not even understand their situation as human trafficking.
It should not take a month to raise awareness; there are year around resources available for advocates and survivors:
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children-https://www.missingkids.org/HOME
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
Office on Trafficking in Persons