Crackdown on human traffickers

According to the New York Daily News, law enforcement is cracking down on human trafficking, which is very prominent in metropolitan areas. Those who are trafficked and forced to sell sex are often immigrants coming from poverty stricken areas in Asia or Latin America. However, some are U.S. citizens. These young girls are promised a better life and love, only to find themselves in an unfamiliar city, in debt and working for little to no pay.

These young girls, some as young as 10 years old, are victim of human trafficking. Historically, police have often treated these girls as prostitutes and they are jailed because of it. Police seldom treat these young girls as victims of sex slavery and do not try to get these girls the help they deserve. However, that seems to be changing somewhat with the crackdown on human traffickers.

According to the article, “last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement racked up 172 arrests for trafficking in the metropolitan area, up from 75 the previous year.”

This is a start. Recognizing that these young girls are the victims and not the problem is a great way to begin eradicating this injustice. These young girls fall prey to a false dream, and they should not be punished for it. They are held captive in inhumane conditions, selling sex to 30 or so men a day, and receive none of the compensation for it. If they try and escape, they are often beaten or sometimes killed.

While I commend the government and its agencies for trying to crackdown on human trafficking- and I am glad they are- I do not think this is enough. It is no where near enough. Thousands and thousands of young women, men and children are still trafficked into this country each year and forced into similar scenarios. Their stories are often forgotten about or go untold because people are unwilling to accept the fact that people can still be enslaved today. Or worse, if they do realize it, people turn their head the other way because they think “what can I do?”

The thing is, people need to realize the power a voice can have on sparking change. Speaking up against this injustice, whether it is through writing, donating money, simply educating yourself in it or working on the ground, will spark change. When people idly sit back and let it happen or let ignorance perpetuate, then nothing can be done.

It is great that the government and its agencies are trying to invoke change by busting human traffickers, but that will never be enough. There will always be more human traffickers replacing them, enabling the cycle to perpetuate. And there will always be pimps replacing those who are captured.

In order for real change to begin, the government needs to educate its people about the reality of human trafficking. It needs to show people that slavery does exist in a modern form. One way to do this would be to let the victims of human trafficking tell their stories.

The government needs to find a way to cut off the demand, which begins with educating people, because as long as their is a demand, there will be a supply.

To read more, one can read the book, Not For Sale or read blog posts from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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