Human trafficking is a complex (and, therefore, widely misunderstood) problem. One of the most common misconceptions regarding human trafficking is that it is a global issue and doesn’t happen in the United States. We picture individuals in third-world countries in chains, locked behind bars, being physically and sexually abused, or beaten into submission. While these horrific scenarios are the reality in numerous countries around the world, modern slavery is happening in your very own state.
Human Trafficking Is a Reality When People Stand to Profit From Someone Else’s Misfortune
If you don’t think human trafficking is a problem in your area, think again. Take Michigan, for instance. “Human trafficking is happening in cities, suburbs, and rural areas, across the U.S. and in Michigan,” says Press & Guide writer Teresa Duhl. “As an international border state with major sports venues and global industries, including manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture, Michigan is a prime location for human trafficking.” Think of how many businesses, corporations, and industries call the United States their home. The U.S. is a cultural melting pot and a crossroads for commerce and businesses. Consider how selfish and entitled our society has become. There are countless opportunities here for individuals to exploit others so that they can advance their careers, gain positions of power, or make more money.
Human Trafficking Feeds off of Ignorance
Human trafficking looks different from state to state, but no city is immune to it. You may look around you and see manicured lawns and neighbors cordially chatting and think, “Surely not here.” But this “my city is the exception” mentality only perpetuates modern slavery. Human trafficking feeds off of this ignorance, because the more people ignore the issue or are blind to its existence, the deeper its roots grow.
Human Trafficking Is Difficult to Spot Because of How It’s Masked
The sexualization of everything under the sun, not to mention the entire porn industry, plays a huge role in perpetuating the cycle of human trafficking. A gig on Craigslist to “pose for some pics” could lead to years of bondage. The nail salon you frequent or the massage parlor you go to could actually be covered for human traffickers. Trafficking victims are our friends, our neighbors, sometimes even our family members. If we continue labeling human trafficking as only a global problem, we neglect the responsibility we have to combat it in our own city.
“A variety of industries within the United States are susceptible to human trafficking—hospitality, agricultural, janitorial services, construction, restaurants, care for persons with disabilities, salon services, massage parlors, retail, fairs, and carnivals, peddling and begging, child care, domestic work, and drug smuggling and distribution.”moneylaunderingnews.com
It’s time to open our eyes, be on the lookout for the signs, and do our part in the fight against human trafficking.