Human trafficking is a worldwide issue. It pervades third-world countries as well as wealthy nations. It affects women, men, and children. It takes on different forms (sex trafficking, labor trafficking, etc.) and the consequences differ from city to city, state to state, country to country. This varied landscape has led to misconceptions surrounding human trafficking, many of which can be linked to a lack of awareness of what human trafficking looks like, both nationally and globally.
Modern Slavery Is a Global Problem
Without awareness, it’s easy to assume one of two myths is true:
- Human trafficking is only an issue in the United States.
- Human trafficking is not prevalent in the U.S. It’s primarily an issue other countries face.
Both assumptions are false. While human trafficking can look different depending on where you are in the world, it is a global problem.
- Human trafficking is the fastest growing illegal business.
- Human trafficking generates $150 BILLION annually.
- Human trafficking is the 2nd largest criminal enterprise in the world.
- Almost 25 million people are trafficked every year.
- 1 in 4 victims are under the age of 18.
- The majority of victims are trafficked within the borders of their own country.
Key components of human trafficking in the U.S. and other countries
Laws/infrastructure vs. corruption/promotion
Countries like the United States, Switzerland, and South Korea (among others) are fighting human trafficking using multiple weapons, including laws against human trafficking. Sadly, not every country recognizes human trafficking as the horrible crime that it is, let alone punishes perpetrators. Countries like China, Russia, and Afghanistan, for instance, compound the issue instead of abating it. Greed is a universal human condition, and politicians in some countries such as Uzbekistan (see page 47 of the 2020 TIP report) are agents of human trafficking themselves, forcing citizens to work in order to fill their own pockets and further their political agendas.
It’s also important to note that the United States and some other nations have resources in place that provide practical assistance and counseling for individuals who have been rescued from trafficking situations. Unfortunately, many countries still lack this valuable infrastructure.
Discrimination and Lack of Basic Human Rights
In the U.S., the legal system does not discriminate between men, women, adults, and children. But in other countries, this isn’t always the case. Basic human rights are not consistent from country to country, and the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is just a dream for many.
That being said, the United States does not have human trafficking under control. There is still much to be done, both in the United States and abroad. Each country must do its part.
“To turn the tide, action must accompany words. Among other steps, governments must end state-sponsored forced labor; they must increase prosecutions of human traffickers; and they should expand their efforts to identify and care for trafficking victims while ensuring they are not punished for crimes traffickers compelled them to commit.”Michael Pompeo, Secretary of State
A Universal Problem Needs Universal Hope.
In some cultures (including our own), it is believed that human trafficking victims are only in the situation they’re in because they “got mixed up with the wrong crowd” or made mistakes and are now “paying for them.” These lies must be rejected! Human trafficking exists in our backyard and in countries around the world. Sometimes human traffickers are perpetuated by corrupt governments and sometimes traffickers are people we know and think we can trust! Human trafficking is a global problem because sin, greed, and depravity are global problems.
No one deserves or earns slavery. Everyone has the right to freedom. While the fight may look different from country to country, there is one universal concept that, must prevail: the sanctity of human life. Every human being, regardless of culture, gender, or financial status is made in “imago Dei” (the image of God) and therefore has inherent value. The universal problem of human trafficking needs the universal hope of the Gospel, and the fight continues on a physical and spiritual level.
“And giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”-Colossians 1:12-13