There are billions of people on the planet. It is impossible to notice every individual. It is impossible to track every individual. It would be very difficult to stare at a school of fish and watch the movement of a single fish. However, some are attempting to do this with people.
How much do you know about human trafficking? You probably know what you learned in the movie Taken or even Taken 2. Have you ever looked into it? It’s incredible how many people are unaware of the various types of human trafficking that occur within our country’s borders. To be honest, it can be slightly sickening when reviewing the statistics.
This prominent problem came to my attention when I was nineteen. I was in a freshman-level English course. We were told to write an informative research paper. I’ve always been interested in helping women live in a better place and feel better about themselves. I began with a basic Google search—what problems did women face? First result on the list on that day in February 2010 was human trafficking. I dug deeper. What I found made me feel greatly disturbed.
Men and women are forced into human trafficking, which is essentially slavery. Human trafficking occurs in every state within the United States, but also in many countries all around the world. This is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining 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” (Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000).
Included in human trafficking is the category of sex trafficking. There are three main sex trafficking networks in the United States. First, the Asian network, which aims for victims ages 18 through 55, who were originally promised (usually) fake legitimate employment or were recruited in internet chat rooms or saunas/baths. Second, the Latino network aims for (in general) Mexican, central American, and south American women and some minors. Finally, the third network is called “Domestic Networks.” These networks include residential brothels, strip clubs, internet, truck stops, public parties, hotels, and even the streets. Those that are recruited are generally a saddening 12-14 years old. All networks include acts such as physical abuse or isolation, debt bondage, and threats.
Thankfully, there are charities such as Polaris Project that works to fight human trafficking all around the world. They offer a staggering 90% of their proceeds toward their cause. Polaris Project offers a toll-free hotline 24/7 to report tips, connect with those who are also interested in anti-trafficking within your area, or to request information and resources. Polaris also fights to promote anti-human trafficking legislation and policy (you can even look up how your state is doing in regards to fighting human trafficking here). They even offer services to victims or clients, such as shelter, training, and responding to emergencies all around the world.
Eighty percent of the roughly 27 million people involved in human trafficking are women according to the most recent Trafficking In Persons Report. Thus, it is a problem that truly affects the female population. Polaris Project is an incredible organization that truly focuses on helping those who are suffering from all aspects of human trafficking. After all, their organization is named after the North Star, which guided slaves to freedom during the slavery era in the United States. They truly do lead people to freedom.
All information was found on the Polaris Project website, unless otherwise noted.