When one thinks of human trafficking the first thing that springs to mind is usually a poor underdeveloped country where individuals are forced into sexual slavery to earn a living. This perception of human trafficking is far from reality. The second question that springs to mind when discussing human trafficking is exactly what is human trafficking. Human trafficking is the exploitation of human beings – be it for sexual exploitation, other forms of forced labor, slavery, servitude, or for the removal of human organs. Trafficking takes place by criminal means through the threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of positions of power or abuse of positions of vulnerability. It relates to all stages of the trafficking process: recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons.
Trafficking is not just a transnational crime across international borders – the definition applies to internal domestic trafficking of human beings in the United States. Human trafficking is not limited to minor children and women – it includes all persons. It is estimated that approximately 800,000 persons are trafficked across international borders each year. In addition, an estimated 17,500 persons are trafficked into the United States each year. Human trafficking is also a big business bringing in US $32 billion annually, worldwide. This makes people trafficking the most lucrative crime after drug trafficking, according to statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2006).
Domestic Human Trafficking
Human trafficking has become a major concern specifically in Georgia for a number of reasons. First, Atlanta, Georgia is home to Hartsfield International Airport which is a central connection for most domestic and international flights. As such, traffickers are able to traffic a large volume of their victims both internally and internationally to and from Atlanta, Georgia. Second, Georgia has a large immigrant population that is undocumented. As such, traffickers are able to prey on these victims by extracting forced labor, domestic servitude and sexual services without any fear that the victims will contact the police department or immigration. Finally, Atlanta, Georgia is infamous for its large sex industry. Strip clubs, prostitution, and escort services are abundant. Consequently, all these reasons work together to create the perfect climate for human trafficking in Atlanta, Georgia.
Myths about Human Trafficking
According to the Polaris Project the most common myths about human trafficking are as follows:
Myth 1: Slavery ended hundreds of years ago
Reality: While certain forms of slavery were ended in the U.S. in the 1800’s, modern-day slavery and trafficking is one of the most urgent human rights
issues of our time.
Myth 2: Trafficking requires transportation across borders
Reality: The international and U.S. definitions of human trafficking do not
require transportation across any international borders. Victims can be either
nationals or foreign nationals. Many victims are trafficked and enslaved
entirely within their own country.
Myth 3: Force or confinement must be involved
Reality: Threats, deception or psychological control mechanisms are often
used instead of force, and are equally as powerful.
Myth 4: This is a problem in Thailand, Nepal, and other poor countries
Reality: Some of the most severe trafficking occurs in the United States,
Japan and other wealthy destination countries. It is truly a problem that hits
close to home.
Steps to combat Human Trafficking
First, learn about human trafficking issues and communicate your support to your political representatives. If your representatives are uninformed then educate them. Second, talk to people about the issue of human trafficking. Third, find out what the local charities and church groups are doing about human trafficking. If they do not have this issue on their agenda work to get the issue on the agenda. Fourth, pray for these very vulnerable people, especially women and children, that God will give them hope for a future of freedom and restore their dignity. Finally, stay informed and observe your neighborhoods and surrounding areas. Take notice of any suspicious activity, and support the efforts of your local Non Governmental Agencies and Government Agencies working to protect individuals from commercial and sexual exploitation. For more information, you can call the Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline at 1.888.3737.888.
Human trafficking is a depraved criminal enterprise that deprives individuals of their life and dignity. In a letter, the late Pope John Paul II once said: “The trade in human persons constitutes a shocking offense against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights.” Human trafficking is an international criminal enterprise. Despite the enormity of this issue, we must all strive to do our part to end the suffering of its victims. Do not be discouraged, do not choose to be uninformed, do not withhold, do not ignore. Do your part today.
About the Writer:
Safiya Byars is a senior immigration attorney in Norcross, Georgia. She is a native of Jamaica and has personal experience with the difficulties of maneuvering the Immigration system. Safiya Byars has served as the senior immigration attorney with boutique immigration firms in both Alabama and Georgia. There is a $150.00 consultation fee to discuss your case with attorney Byars. The consultation fee must be paid before discussing your case. To discuss your case, please contact Attorney Byars at 404-992-6506 or via email.