As you may know, January has been proclaimed to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This month was proclaimed as such by President Barack Obama in January of 2009. Since then, our organization has continued to see an increase in dialogue surrounding the topic of human trafficking……well more of an increase on the dialogue of sex trafficking. Our organization is thrilled to see so many within the United States speaking up and speaking out against the issue of sex trafficking. But it also leaves us confused as to why the other forms of human trafficking are rarely mentioned. If you think about it, it truly is a catch 22. The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking is one of very few agencies that not only educates the community on the issue of sex trafficking, but we are also very vocal on the issue of domestic servitude as well as labor trafficking. Not only do we assist survivors of sex trafficking, but we also assist survivors of domestic servitude and labor trafficking, both male and female. One of the things that are staff has noticed is the fact that the anti human trafficking field is literally pitting victim against victim. According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000, this should not be happening.
Recently one of our staff members came across this statement: Human trafficking is the trade of people, usually for the purpose of sexual slavery, and experts claim the epidemic is on the rise in the U.S.
This statement could not be further from the truth. Human Trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
Sex trafficking is defined as a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years.
Understand that human trafficking is domestic servitude. It is labor trafficking and it is sex trafficking.
Now the statement mentioned above states that human trafficking is the trade of people, usually for the purpose of sexual slavery. Let’s see what the true experts in the field are reporting on this:
According to research conducted by the International Labour Organization, the statement shown above is false. The ILO has been researching the topic of forced sexual exploitation and forced labor since 1973. Their research has been accepted by The United Nations, The White House and the U.S State Department.
Now according to the chart, it shows that labor trafficking far exceeds sex trafficking. One of the main reasons why this is simply due to demand. Think about it. How many of us depend on the commercial sex industry? How many of us truly are part of the demand for the commercial sex industry? Now let’s flip the script and ask those same questions regarding forced labor? How many of us depend on cheap labor? How many of us depend on the workers in the agricultural industries? How many of us depend on the workers in the garment industries? How many of us depend on services provided to us in locations such as hotels, nail salons, and restaurants? These are all industries in where victims of forced labor have been recovered from.
Due to the fact that there is a higher demand for cheap labor vs. the commercial sex industry, there will always be a higher amount of victims of forced labor throughout the world and throughout the United States. Plus you add in the fact that very few labor trafficking cases are investigated in the United States, this will add onto the number of labor trafficking victims. Understand that is fewer numbers of victims of forced labor that are recovered and assisted, the less traffickers that are arrested equals to the fact that less prosecutions will take place. It is a free for all for anyone involved in labor trafficking and or domestic servitude?
In conclusion, it is important to not just shed light on sex trafficking, but it is important to also shed light on domestic servitude and labor trafficking. We often come across victims of forced labor on a frequent basis and yet not recognize them as victims due to the lack of awareness. Many of these men, women and children, both from foreign countries and the United States are hopeful that one day someone will recognize their silent pleas for help. And yet, very few of us actually recognize their pleas.