Human Trafficking is more prevalent than one could possibly imagine, yet is a terrible evil in this world and existing in every country therein. It exists in each state of the USA, each province and territory of most major countries, and almost every city in every country. If you live in any populated area in the USA or elsewhere, it is probably going on with a mile or two within your home. If you don’t believe this, please see the link in this blog to the statistics on Human Trafficking just in the USA.
It is hard to fathom moral intelligent individuals turning a blind eye to this problem. One can hardly claim to be religious or moral and engage in practices which support, condone, or even turn a blind eye to this evil. Inaction and indifference are as bad as actively contributing to the problem. Stopping it now is a moral imperative for everyone everywhere!!!
I am in the process of supplementing and revising this post. Some of it has not yet been proof-read, and there may be references to occurrences (like the airing of specific documentaries which occurred after I wrote this initially.) Forgive me, but this is a very important topic, and extremely important to me.
Lots of organizations publish lots of statistics, and it is always incumbent to analyze the publisher of the statistics to determine whether they have the: (i) foundation (resources, basis and knowledge) to prepare accurate statistics; and, (ii) their bias or agenda (are the statistics being published by an organization who wants to create concern and collect donations or by an organization, such as the garment industry (including manufacturers, importers, and retailers) who profits from Human Trafficking. The United States government, for example, has the resources organizations, and knowledge to collect and prepare accurate statistics. It is also, like the United Nations, unbiased and credible. The statistics I cite (and link to) include those prepared and published by the government of the United States relating to Human Trafficking which is known in the United States!!
What is Human Trafficking?
There have been a lot of TV shows on Human Trafficking, or certain instances of it. The phrase “Human Trafficking” can be misunderstood, if one watches those shows, even though they are extremely worthwhile and compelling. Similarly, there are many organizations which deal with different types of “Human Trafficking” or “Human Trafficking” which occurs in different parts of the world, to different types of people, etc. The focus on specific segments of “Human Trafficking” can lead to confusion about the problem, and lead to underestimation of the prevalence of trafficked humans, both geographically and nymerically.
In a broad, philosophic sense, “Human Trafficking” is forcing, tricking, or coercing any human to engage in an activity without their consent (including taking advantage of that person’s impoverishment or abuse of drugs). Don’t mistake the use of the words “broad, philosophic” to mean merely theoretical. Instead, it is very real, very serious, and extremely inhumane and immoral. By virtue of the definition of consent, minors are unable to consent to the activities implicated in Human Trafficking (see below), and often their own parents are morally and legally unable to give such consent, even when such consent is given (usually as a result of poverty and/or discrimination against women and especially girls).
More specifically, there are many types and instances of “Human Trafficking” and it is important to separate the different types and instances in order to understand the entirety, scope, and prevalence of the problem. “Human Trafficking” occurs in two different kinds of work: (i) the non-consentual sex trade; and, (ii) unlawful labor. It occurs to two types of persons: (i) minors; and, (ii) adults. It occurs in the USA and abroad. It arises from: (i) force (including coercion, trickery, threats to the victim or the victim’s family); and, it arises from poverty. It involves inter-country trafficking, and intra-country trafficking (transporting people from one country to another, for example, to work in sweat shops, brothels, or even as domestic servants to the wealthy.)
While I don’t usually give much credence to famous and rich actors getting involved in charitable organizations or social cause issues, Demi Moore and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, started the DNA Foundation addressing this problem, or certain aspects thereof. I do believe them to be sincere. What shocked me was that Demi Moore was in a CNN documentary (linked below) which exposed the problem in Nepal. Even though I was familiar with the issue, and had in fact written an earlier version of this Blog post several months ago, I would never have guessed that problem could be so pervasive in a country as remote, isolated, and religious as Nepal. What I forgot is that Nepal is also poor, and poverty is a major contributing factor Human Trafficking. This just evidences how extensive and pervasive the problem is.
Looking at the issue another way, Human trafficking victimizes the most vulnerable disenfranchised people who are least able to protect themselves. They include, first and foremost, children, especially young girls. They also include young boys, woman, and even poor uneducated men. They are forced to work as prostitutes or in sweatshops. They are bought and sold like property, and have no choice in the matter. It is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, with at least 100,000 children in the sex trade in the United States alone (See Link to the Polaris Project.) This does not even come close to the numbers (percentage wise especially) in countries like Vietnam. Not all victims are in the sex trade. Some are in forced labor. Some work in factories, farms, and homes even in the United States and its territories, where our wealth, education, morals, laws, and law enforcement capabilities would presumably be an impediment to the prevalence of this evil. But this is not the case. In fact, for an egregious example of the complicity of three of the richest, most powerful, extremely educated, and most trusted men in America in Human Trafficking in America, see the revolting truth discussed below about the sweatshops in Saipan (a US Territory) and the role the three men played in actively preventing the US government from stopping Chinese workers being used as slave labor. And we sit in judgment, moralize, and criticise the Chinese government for their alleged use of prison labor!!!
The use of forced labor (and sex trafficking) is not new. We all know of our history with slavery, and after that, the quasi-slavery of segregation, discrimination, and sharecropping. But few know of the importation of immigrants from China, known as “coolies” many of whom were essentially kidnapped and sold into slavery. The phrase “Shanghaied” comes from the kidnapping of Chinese peasants (in China) and sent through the port of Shanghai to work in such places as the Western United States in sub-human conditions. The port of Shanghai was used because the British forced the Chinese government (in what has come to be known as the Opium Wars) to allow trade through that port because, incredibly, the British wanted to sell opium from India (which was then a British colony) to China. The British sale of opium caused much of the poverty which led to the conditions which caused the Chinese peasants to be sold and trafficked. The vestiges of the British sales of Opium continue to be evidenced in the poverty of the Chinese, and only the Communist party did an incredibly good job at stopping both the trafficking of Chinese peasants and the importation of Opium. Again, I ask how we can criticise the Chinese?
Human trafficking occurs from many sources. Some victims are literally kidnapped. Others are tricked and fooled into thinking they are getting a better life, especially legitimate jobs, in another place. Others are forced into this slavery, or kept and controlled, by reason of threats to their family who remain in their home countries. The traffickers may charge a “fee” for taking the trafficked person to the “better life.” The victim and/or the family are often held responsible for the debt. Lack of money and documentation which would enable a victim to escape and return home are other factors which often occur. Others, especially children and young woman, are literally sold into slavery by their own parents, sometimes due to extreme poverty, and kept as prisoners with the threat of violence. Incredibly, this occurs throughout the world, and recent exposes have exposed this in both the USA and UK, two of the countries where one would least expect to witness this most extreme form of Human Trafficking.
As I mentioned previously, one of the worst examples, in the sense that it occurred in the USA by three people one would least expect to be participants in this vile evil, (which devastated my personal trust in our legislative system), was exposed in a documentary originally on, I believe, MSNBC. But the truth of the facts exposed on MSNBC was documented by all major news organizations (including CN and ABC), so those who would attack the MSNBC documentary on the basis of the presumed liberal bias of MSNBC are looking for excused to “close their eyes. I watched in shock, and cannot begin to convey what occurred. In summary, Tom Delay, then the Republican Whip of the House of Representatives to the US Congress, acting at the direction of Ralph Reed (so called head of the “Christian Coalition”) who each took bribes from Jack Abramoff, actively prevented regulation(which would have stopped the human trafficking of Chinese workers [who were tricked into believing that they were “coming to America” to be free to live and work here when instead they were held as real prisoners in “sweat shops” in Saipan which is part of the United States (it is an island in the pacific governed by the United States and completely subject to United States laws, rules, and regulations)]. See CNN’s coverage of Tom Delay’s involvement and also Democracy Now’s Coverage of the Issue.
What is worse, Ralph Reed, who is making his political comeback, ignored the forced abortions these workers were forced to endure and tricked his devout Christian followers into believing that these workers being able to work in Saipan was a “Christian Issue” as they were being exposed to Jesus. He didn’t reveal the money he was receiving to make this false claim, the fact that these workers were held as virtual slaves in accordance with the wishes of the sweatshops they worked for, and forced to undergo abortions (not exactly in accordance with Christian tenants). He used his money (from Jack Abramoff who was a lobbyist for the sweatshops) and influence with the Christian Coalition, to get Tom Delay to block legislation which would have closed down these sweatshops (which were already in violation of US law.) In fact, as President Clinton was President, and the US Department of Labor had Democrat appointees running it, a well intention, honest worker, who was aware of the problem and fought strenuously to enforce existing US regulations in Saipan had his career destroyed by Ralph Reed, Abramoff, and Delay, who falsely made this issue a Republican Christian issue.
Since Abramoff and Delay have been imprisoned for similar misdoings, and have been disgraced, they are no longer relevant. But Ralph Reed is making a comeback and rising again to prominence in the Republican party. Regardless of your religious or political conviction, he has forfeited any claim to morality or to any position of leadership of any religious or moral cause, party, or coalition. He should be banished to obscurity. His hypocrisy and betrayal (of even his own constituent base) is incomprehensible and unforgivable, as is his misuse and abuse of his own followers who trusted him and as is his perversion of the very causes he purported to represent.
While Abramoff and Delay were disgraced and imprisoned, Ralph Reed is making a comeback, and regardless of your political or religious convictions, he represents no one’s interest but his own. He is a hypocrite who stands for nothing other than his own pocketbook, accumulation of power, and status.
Why is this relevant to Human Trafficking? Because it shows how the monied interests behind Human Trafficking cross political, religious and geographic boundaries, and enter even into the US though the supposed highest, most law-abiding, advanced, and moral form of government in existence ever. Jack Abramoff was, like me, a Pro-Israel Jew. Ralph Reed was a member of the Christian Coalition (whom I despise as an extremist Republican Group bent on replacing our democratic free secular government with a Christian Theocracy). Tom Delay was one of the most powerful and respected and trusted congressional officials at the time, and supposedly above all the religious, partisan politics, and corruption and entrusted with enforcing US laws and principles (which laws and principles he obstructed the enforcement thereof).
If Ralph Reed, Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff can be intentionally responsible for human trafficking, do any of us share responsibility? You may be directly responsible for this heinous evil industry merely by purchasing cheap clothing, cheap agriculture goods, and especially by using the services of a prostitute. While I have nothing against the clothing or agriculture industries (we all need clothes and fresh produce J), and certainly believe that whatever occurs between two consenting adults (services rendered) is no one’s business (referring to the sex trade), it is incumbent on each of us to make sure that these goods and “services” were produced by consenting adults.
The sex trade includes forced prostitution of minors and also includes minors and women tricked, coerced, and/or forced to travel to foreign countries where they have no choice but to work as prostitutes, in the pornography business, or in strip clubs, either because of fear of poverty, fear of violence against them or their families back home, or even because they are virtual prisoners. It happens to American born women and children, women and children brought to America, women and children in other countries who may be taken to another country or even forced to engage in such practices in their own countries.
The complicity of family members, policeman, and governmental officials, especially in foreign countries, often is a contributing factor. The indifference of police, governments, and the people in every country are always major contributing factors. The purchase of products and services of those trafficked humans is the worst contributing factor. That purchaser can be a person or company who unknowingly purchases a product, even a shirt, which is inexpensively produced by an unknown factory and then sold to a well-respected retailer or wholesaler. That person may be you or me. If you purchase or use the services of those engaged in the sex trade, you may be directly participating in the exploitation of trafficked humans and supporting the practice of Human Trafficking in the same way that users of narcotics support the drug cartels and gangs who supply and sell those drugs.
Even the mere fact that this occurs anywhere in the world is unacceptable and must be stopped by the affirmative action of all of us, wherever we live and whatever we do. Indifference and inaction are as much a part of the problem as those who intentionally profit from human trafficking. And as I have tried to point out, and as many of the web sites I list, the organizations I discuss, and the links contained herein demonstrate, it is virtually impossible for any of us not to profit from the trade of humans. It is reflected in the lower price we pay for clothes and produce, for example. It is reflected in the lower wages paid for workers in certain industries, and the profits we receive as shareholders in those companies. But, if you think the problem lies in some distant country for which you are powerless to prevent, you are wrong. If you don’t believe me, look to our own government for information about human trafficking. The US Department of Education’s Fact Sheet and Good Links about the Issue of Human Trafficking [this is a link which you may or not be able to see depending upon your browser.]
I began thinking about writing this blog post in February of 2011. I began researching and writing this post (along with several other) in March and April of 2011. I published it on May 13, 2011. Since then there has been a lot of public media attention, including documentaries, about this subject. I mention this not because (even though I do) want to brat that, as with most of my posts, I seem to be ahead of the curve (including the media on the issues in my blog) but because I want to discuss some of the documentaries and information I gained after I wrote my original post on May 13, 2011 (which is one major reason I am rewritten and reposting this post.
First, CNBC has been airing a documentary about this topic. Even before I published my post, MSNBC has been airing a series about this topic (which I tried to record on my DVR but was unable to watch, by coincidence, because at the time I set my DVR to air, the programing was interrupted due to the breaking news story of the death of Osama Bin Laden (also another blog topic I briefly discuss). I believe MSNBC is still airing this series. Additionally, as I mentioned briefly above, recently CNN has begun coverage of Human Trafficking. They have what they call the Freedom Project. While I haven’t seen much of it, it included the show by Demi Moore about trafficking in Nepal. Here is a link to one of CNN’s many web sites on this issue. Click Here to go to CNN’s Web Site on their “Freedom Project”.
Remember, Human Trafficking comes in many forms. A lot of these shows talk (or appear to talk – I haven’t seen them all and those that I have seen I have not always seen in their entirety) about human trafficking in the sex trade. While Human Trafficking includes the sex trade it also includes forced labor, indentured labor, and the unlawful labor of minors. In involves Americans and foreigners and occurs in America and abroad. It includes children and adults, men and women. Both illegal and legal immigrants of all ages and both genders are often victims, in America and abroad, of forced and indentured labor. In watching these shows, which I urge you to do, please don’t view them as though they define the scope of the problem. They are mere examples, albeit compelling and tragic, examples of a worldwide problem that takes place in many forms.
Another MUST GO TO LINK IS WORLD VISION’S ASIA PACIFIC Discussion of Human Trafficking. Here is the link Human Trafficking Compelling Information and Facts by World Vision
Human Trafficking is the most vile evil in the world. As citizens of the world, being people of intelligence and conscience, supposedly with morals and believing in the rule of law, we are all responsible for taking affirmative steps to stop it everywhere in the world. Because it occurs in this country and/or is caused by actions in this country, we are all very specifically morally responsible. After the Holocaust, most Germans claimed that they were not responsible. Some claimed to have had no knowledge of the evil wrongdoings. Others claimed to have had no participation. Others claimed to have been unable to prevent the holocaust. Others, we know, either profited, directly or indirectly or otherwise supported the holocaust. While a mere fraction of the German population was actively physically involved in the exterminations, we know that the entire country (except the very small percentage that took up arms to try to stop it) had varying degrees of moral culpability. The same goes for Human Trafficking. It is time for educated moral informed people to stand up and accept personal responsibility and do something affirmative and substantial to stop Human Trafficking.