Human Trafficking/Modern Day Slavery
Slavery Never Ended:
It is Alive and Well Throughout the World
BY: Scott A. Vieira Jr
Whether people choose to believe it or not, slavery never ended. Countries around the world may have abolished it and have took active steps within the laws and politics to stop it, but the unfortunate reality is there is an estimated 40.3 million slaves, as of 2016, throughout the world. While some countries are more prevalent, this modern era of slaves come from all around the world and is color blind, including in the United States. Not many people hear about this regularly enough to do research and understand how alive and well slavery is in 2020. The unfortunate truth seems to be that modern-day slavery, also known as (aka) human trafficking, is not on anyone’s radar. Politicians and mainstream media may run a story or article upon the subject, it seems they only do this when a prominent member of society is arrested or accused of participating in it. During election years, far too many Americans are focused on taxes, healthcare, the economy, jobs, and the Constitution. Sure, there is nothing wrong with focusing on those as key issues, but there are many more issues plaguing the United States, as well as the rest of the world. It is about high time that more politicians, celebrities, and everyday Americans start paying attention to the cruel and harshness of modern-day slavery. It is time politicians made this a priority during their campaigns and more Americans should demand answers from those who are running for an elected office. This will highlight as many of the facts as possible, while citing the proper sources, including the sources to which you can help join the fight in ending slavery, once and for all.
According to the Global Slavery Index (GSI), “In 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery. It exists in every corner of the world yet is seemingly invisible to most people.” Of the 40.3 million people, 71% are female and 29% are male (GSI 2018). The GSI says, “15.4 million are in forced marriages and 24.9 million in forced labour.” It would seem with these numbers, as of 2016, that the world would be doing more to stop this from happening. While some countries are taking the best actions possible, on a global scale it is not being done enough. Year after year, modern day slavery goes unnoticed. It is barely talked about in the news and most people do not ever hear about it. It is an invisible war that not many people seem to want to discuss. While countries may be spending truck loads of money to fight it and are passing legislation for harsher punishments, there is not enough talk about what is truly going on. As each year passes the more it seems to get pushed under the rug. That rug only seems to get lifted when/if there is a big bust or a famous or prominent member of a community is arrested or accused of such charges. Even though it starts off as a big case it also seems to go away just as quickly. Time and time again the United States heard about the human trafficking bust in Florida, when it came to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft getting arrested for soliciting sex at a Florida spa 2019. Shortly after the news broke about the bust, the media seemingly shifted notice away from the human trafficking bust and made the entire story about Mr. Kraft. Very minimal praise was given for the excellent work that lead to one of the biggest human trafficking busts in the United States, with close to 300 arrested for being involved. Advocates began demanding stricter laws to fight against human trafficking after the news broke nationwide. Unfortunately, most of the bills introduced within the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, were left introduced or motioned to be moved elsewhere. Only a handful of the new legislations introduced were passed. H.R. 502 and H.R. 507 were introduced and passed. H.R. 502 passed on January 28, 2019 and H.R. 507 passed February 7, 2019. Neither of these have been voted on by the Senate at this time. Once again, the call for stricter legislation did not go unanswered, but no real actions were taken, and the story eventually died down, as did the public interest.
According to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS),
Human trafficking is considered modern-day slavery, and there are more slaves today than at any time in history.
“They are hidden from view. You do not recognize them in the back kitchens, shops, gas stations and in hospitality. They are also tucked away in fields. They do not come out and ask for help. It’s a different kind of slavery than long ago,” says Dr. Lucy Steinitz, Catholic Relief Services senior technical advisor for protection. “They are not in shackles or on plantations. People are coerced into harsh employment under horrible conditions, and then have no freedom to leave. They are beaten, violated and told they are worthless—that no one else wants them anymore.”
With the reality out there, with just a little effort and an internet connection, this problem continues to go unnoticed. Politicians running a campaign, hoping to get elected to positions within the government at all levels, do not seem to discuss this as apart of their platform. In the 2020 running alone, no candidate mentioned how they planned on fighting human trafficking as apart of their platform. They continued to discuss and debate the same topics repeatedly. President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have not even mentioned human trafficking, or what they plan on doing about these poor 40.3 million souls being sold, bought, and forced into sex and labor. Both candidates talk extensively about COVID-19 and how it is a global pandemic, but they never mention the global pandemic of slavery. If more and more Presidential candidates began to use their platforms to inform Americans on what they plan on doing to curb this pandemic, more of the public would take notice. If more of the public began to take notice, then more people would, most likely, be willing to donate to a non-profit organization that fights against human trafficking, and/or helps the victims. Until there are more politicians willing to step up and fight and run their platforms with ideas on how to combat this issue, the more it will go unnoticed. Hopefully, if this gets published, more people will pay attention, which would help more politicians put this as a part of their platform and began to formulate more ideas on how to end human trafficking. As a person running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Tennessee’s Congressional District 7, I am making it my plan to make sure I address this situation. Hopefully this will grab the attention of someone, and then many others, that will help to reach other people, and get this atrocious business ended, with more resources for victims that are saved from these “sex rings.” I can only provide the facts, cite my sources, ask questions, and try. Hopefully, those I submit this to, will feel the same about this as I do.
Modern day slavery is estimated to make roughly $150 billion each year (freetheslaves.net). Labor Slavery makes up roughly 50%, sex slavery makes up 12.5%, forced marriages make up roughly 37.5% and 25% of today’s slaves are children (freetheslaves.net). According to the GSI,
Globally, there were 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world. Looking regionally, the prevalence for modern day slavery was highest in Africa with 7.6 victims for every 1,000 people in the region. (Figure 1). This was followed by Asia and the Pacific (6.1 victims) and Europe and Central Asia (3.9 victims). The prevalence in the Arab States and Americas was lower at 3.3 and 1.9 victims per 1,000 people respectively (noting the caveats below regarding data limitations, particularly in the Arab States (GSI 2018 pg. 62).
Using these numbers, the picture becomes clearer as to where the world stands regarding this atrocious pandemic. The GSI also breaks down the countries who are taking the most steps in response. Netherlands, The United States, and United Kingdom coming in at the top three. The least amount of action by governments are North Korea, Libya, and Eritrea are the top three. It would be safe to assume that the Netherlands and the United States governments taking the most actions is a great thing. While the Netherlands government stands atop, this is more focused upon the United States. The United States is number two in response, according to the GSI. The question is why? Should not the United States, the number one country in the world, be at the top? The United States should be leading the charge in this fight against slavery, given they fought a Civil War to end it, in the 1860’s. Unfortunately, while it’s citizens say it is the greatest country in the world, the United States is beginning to fall behind in a lot of aspects, so it’s not surprising they would only be number two, in regards to slavery. It took hundreds of years and the Civil War for the United States to abolish slavery and make it unconstitutional. Even now, it is citizens of color still feel as if they are slaves, which only helps to put a blindfold upon the population, allowing modern day slavery in the United States to practically go unnoticed. Luckily, there are many organizations in the United States who have dedicated their lives and time to advocating against modern day slavery. All one must do is use Google, Bing, or Yahoo! whichever is their favorite search engine and type in “Modern Day Slavery,” to find many websites and non-profits. Hopefully, this will be a trending topic in the months to come, with more people asking politicians how they plan on fighting this atrocious, global pandemic, in the United States.
In the state of Tennessee endslaverytennessee.org is the leading organization that dedicates it is time and money to fighting modern day slavery. Their vision is “TO CREATE A SLAVE-FREE TENNESSEE” according to their website, under the tab “Who We Are” and “Mission and Vision.” Their mission is “TO PROMOTE HEALING OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING SURVIVORS AND STRATEGICALLY CONFORNT SLAVERY IN OUR STATE.” This is a dedicated group of people who donate their time and energy to help victims and to fight to slavery in Tennessee. One must wonder how many people know that this non-profit exists and that they are fighting daily to help pass better legislation and to keep this problem within the eyes of the public. It was not until recently that I even knew it existed, and it is only because I was wanting to write about this subject, after seeing a meme on Facebook that truly made me sick to my stomach. I am glad that I decided to do this, as it has made me driven to want to do everything that I can to help fight this situation and bring it back into the eyes of the public, since I too, allowed it to go unnoticed and didn’t put it as part of my platform. I am in the process of correcting that wrong.
While it may not be the best written paper, it can be dressed up, but to me, the subject matter at hand is what is most important. It should not be whether the comma, hyphen, or period are in the correct spots. The subject of this is modern day slavery and I implore you to forget about the grammar and the way it was written, and instead listen to what is being said, and research the facts that have been laid out. Take some action, as I have. In Tennessee alone, the National Human Trafficking Hotline estimates that 352 contacts and 180 cases reported, in 2019 alone. Since 2007 there have been 3,063 contacts and 911 cases. According to them, Tennessee is considered Moderate (contacts): 1,056 victims to High (cases): 999 victims. The website also breaks down the types, by the numbers (https://humantraffickinghotline.org/state/tennessee).
After doing extensive research into this, I am sickened that this is not talked about enough on the national level. As a resident of Tennessee, and a father to a thirteen old daughter, and 3 sons, I am frightened that our media does not cover this enough. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the state’s equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), modern day slavery is “the 2nd highest ranking crime, behind drugs, and rising.” Tennessee’s website regarding human trafficking says, “In the United States, on average, every two minutes a child is bought and sold for sex. The average age for a child sold for sex is thirteen years old. Human Trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal industry, just behind Drug Trafficking.” (https://www.tn.gov/tbi/crime-issues/crime-issues/human-trafficking.html). While there are articles that can be found on the web, there is almost no news coverage of this within the state. Considering the TBI puts this as the second-fastest growing criminal industry in the United States, why does the media not report upon this subject more? The focus seems to be upon the opioid crisis and abortion, more than slavery within the state. The media does not seem to be reporting on missing persons who may or may not be missing for being snatched off the streets and sold into slavery. This is a subject that should be more and more reported on, if we are ever going to fight against it, and do our best to stop it. I have reached out to endslaverytn.org. My hope is to give them a platform to speak upon this issue and try to bring it back into the public eye, within the state I am trying to represent in our federal Congress. This is a subject that should be brought up to the state’s Congress as well, and more and more people should be advocating against modern day slavery. While we continue to fight each other over color, sex, gender, sexuality, religion, taxes, political differences, and defunding the police, more and more people are becoming victims to the human trafficking/modern day slavery criminal industry. It is important to put aside our differences and, for once, unite to fight against something we all believe to be horrible and horrendous, not only for our state, but globally as well.
Many politicians and people can continue to put a blind eye towards this subject, but they are wrong. More and more attention should be garnered for this subject, and more people should be aware of it. Most importantly, we should not be electing officials unless they have plans to fight and combat against human trafficking, and the people should require them to make it apart of their platform to raise more awareness of what is going on within their cities, counties, states, and countries around the world. More people should unite under this cause and plan on taking direct action, volunteering, and/or donating to help those who do fight and combat against this.
While we fight, squander, and hate each other over political differences and political parties, we all seem to have forgotten, regardless of what the Constitution says, regardless of whether or not it is reported, SLAVERY is alive and well in 2020. What are you, your family and friends, and your politicians doing to stop it? We must end slavery. It is 2020.
ORGANIZATIONS DEDICATED TO ENDING SLAVERY: