human trafficking

Millions of children are being preyed upon.

Over 100,000 U.S. children every year are forcefully engaged in prostitution or pornography.

The UN estimates that nearly 4,000,000 individuals are trafficked each year, with a disproportionate number of children and women in the sex trade.

UNICEF estimates that as many as 50% of all trafficking victims worldwide are children and that as many as two thirds of those children are at some point forced into the sex trade. Two children are SOLD every minute.

Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children are tricked, kidnapped, sold or extorted each year across international borders and are sold into bondage or service. It is estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 people each year are trafficked across those borders.

Human trafficking brings in nearly $10 billion dollars a year- the third highest volume for a criminal enterprise. Of that $10 billion, $4 billion is estimated to be directly related to the brothel industry and sex trafficking.

Cambodia is known to have one of the highest rates of child sex trafficking in the world. This is where one of our partner organizations, Daughters Cambodia, is based. Here you can find brothels on virtually every block and street corner. Oftentimes brothels are the hidden work behind “massage” parlors.

Victims of sex trafficking are frequently beaten, raped or even killed for any reason. Child victims have high mortality rates due to the poor treatment they receive.

Trafficking is nothing short of modern day slavery; a violation of every human’s rights.

Something has to be done.

This subject is not pretty and it is not to be taken lightly. For too long its ugly head has been hidden in the dark.

Our hearts break for these men, women, and children. We don’t want to turn a blind eye to this injustice. We want to shine a bright light on what is going on and provide ways to do something about it!

Join us in saving and helping to restore the lives of these innocent victims.

Visit our shop and purchase a t-shirt that will support the anti-sex trafficking work that our partners are doing in Cambodia. We also have handmade merchandise that the women of Daughters have created and everything you buy helps support them and their families.

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The Impact of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking has long been a tremendous issue in terms of human rights, but has been hard to combat due to the underground, extremely protective nature of those who engage in it. Tracking down traffickers is as hard as gauging their impact on a society and culture. However, each year non-profit organizations such as UNICEF and UNESCO invest vast amounts of resources into evaluating, analysing, and tracking down data on human trafficking from the world’s governments.

One thing to remember about human trafficking is that it does not affect only one demographic and there are multiple forms of trafficking. While women and children are the most visible and openly exploited victims of trafficking in the labor and sex trades, men and workers from third world and developing countries can also fall victim to false promises, extortion, and threats from criminal elements.

Human Trafficking Statistics

Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children are tricked, kidnapped or extorted each year into being taken across international borders and sold into bondage or service. It is estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 people each year are trafficked across those borders for a total of nearly $10 billion – the third highest volume for a criminal enterprise. Of that $10 billion, $4 billion is estimated to be directly related to the brothel industry and sex trafficking – the primary target of most investigations into this practice.

These numbers are not specific because human trafficking is hard to track and even harder to stop. Secretive processes and threats on the victims or their family’s lives can leave no trail of their disappearance or travels, making it all but impossible to know where they disappeared to.

The United States alone will have between 14,500 and 17,500 individuals trafficked across its borders each year according to the Department of Justice, and nearly 200,000 US citizens trafficked within those own borders – mostly children being bought and sold in the sex industry. In fact, of the nearly 800,000 people trafficked each year, 70% of them are estimated to be woman and 50% of them are children, with a large percentage of those being forced into the sex trade.

The largest single source of human trafficking into the United States is East Asia where 5,000-7,000 victims originate each year. Latin America and Eastern Europe are nearly as problematic with 3,000-6,000 victims trafficked into the United States each year.

And while these are the numbers provided by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, some estimate that they could be significantly higher, with as many as 60,000 victims trafficked into the United States each year and held against their will.

When speaking internationally, UNESCO has prepared a data sheet that illustrates the worldwide estimates of trafficking. When taking domestic trafficking into account (those forced into service that are not transported across international borders), the UN estimates that nearly 4,000,000 individuals are trafficked each year, with a disproportionate number of children and women in the sex trade.

These estimates vary wildly, with some organizations pegging the number lower and others higher, but the sad truth remains that men, women and children around the globe are taken from their homes, forced into servitude and mistreated every year, often times with threats of violence to themselves or their families.

Who Falls Victim to Human Trafficking?

The most common form of human trafficking is the sex trade, where children and women are taken across borders and held in captivity to be sold for sex. Children are especially susceptible to this form of human trafficking due to high orphan rates in third world and developing countries. UNICEF estimates that as many as 50% of all trafficking victims worldwide are children and that as many as two thirds of those children are at some point forced into the sex trade. Children may also be forced into slavery or very low pay labor at an age when most kids would be playing kickball and watching cartoons.

While child sex trafficking is an issue in many nations, it has been brought to attention most prominently in Brazil and Thailand. The Protection Project report estimates that between 250,000 and 500,000 children currently live as prostitutes in Brazil with other sources citing it as high as 2 million. In Thailand, the problem is even more severe. Other countries cited by leading international organizations as having particularly bad records in child sex trafficking include Cambodia, Mexico and India.

While children are generally taken from the street and forced into servitude, adults are often tricked or extorted into being taken advantage of. For example, men and women from eastern Asia are often promised work in the United States and then transported across international borders illegally (and often inhumanely). They will then be forced to work long hours, live in cramped quarters and be threatened with exposure or even death if they try to leave.

In some cases, the family members of trafficking victims will be held hostage or at least threatened to keep the trafficking victim from attempting to escape. Men’s families might be threatened repeatedly to keep them working for nothing or nearly nothing in a distant country where their wages will never afford them the ability to leave. In other cases, traffickers will hold their victims against the “cost” of being transported. The debt will remain in effect for months or years, effectively turning them into indentured servants against their will. Drugs are also known to play a part in human trafficking, used to weaken victims and create addicts incapable or unwilling to escape.

Living as a Trafficking Victim

Victims of human trafficking are often weakened individuals with low self-esteem, fear, or obligations that force them to continuously work or perform for the men and women who take advantage of them. They are often kept out of sight to avoid being caught and are rarely let out of the site of their keepers – effectively making them into human slaves.

Trafficking victims may be beaten, raped, or even killed for any reason and children victims have high mortality rates due to the poor treatment they receive at the hands of their captors. Most often, economic disparity and poor living conditions create a hot bed of poor individuals who cannot protect themselves or who attempt to create a better life for themselves and their families by submitting to the will of their captors.

Dealing with Human Trafficking

It has been hard to establish international laws that protect individuals from human trafficking. In 2000, the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was passed by the United States and later adopted by nations around the globe. To date, however, only the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and a select number of other nations have fully adopted these standards to reduce and hopefully stop this heinous act. Many nations are in Tier 2 of adoption, working to integrate new protections that will ensure children and women, as well as men are all protected against trafficking. Yet, there still remain a number of countries that have either refused or been unable to take up any of the maxims of the new laws. These countries continue to see the highest rates of human trafficking and exploitation.

In 2007, the UN.GIFT (United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking) was established with an international coalition of nations intent on stopping the spread of human trafficking. Organizations such as the ILO, UNICEF, IOM, OHCHR, and OSCE have all signed on to carry out the goals of the UN.GIFT initiative. The purpose is to coordinate efforts on an international level to stop human trafficking, rather than on a national level where some nations simply don’t have the resources or desire to combat the problem. With greater protections and stronger prosecution, the hope is that the UN.GIFT will not only deter but help to catch the criminals who would barter in human flesh.

Resources on Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is an international dilemma that affects millions of men, women, and children every year. With so many nations and individuals striving to combat the impact of this horrendous crime, resources have been growing rapidly in the last decade. To learn more about human trafficking and what is being done to stop it, you can visit the sites of organizations like UNESCO, UNICEF, and Amnesty International. The United States Department of Justice also has a series of individual resources aimed at helping to better understand the grave threat so many face, and the United Nations GIFT initiative can be read more about at www.UNGift.org. While so many are striving to make sure no more children or women are sold into slavery, there is still a real problem out there and the only way to combat it is to educate yourself and those around you. There are actions we can take now that will save the less fortunate tomorrow.

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Sources:

US Department of Justice – “Human Trafficking”
HumanTrafficking.org – “Child Trafficking”, “Domestic Trafficking”, “Prevention”, “Sex Industry”
UNESCO – “Trafficking and HIV/AIDS Project”
UNICEF – “Child Protection from Violence, Exploitation, and Abuse”
UN.GIFT – “Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking”