Monthly Archives: March 2013
I don’t think I can stress enough that human trafficking is an international issue, meaning it’s happening right now not only in Thailand, but also in Virginia. It’s not so hidden. It seems like every other day I’m hearing a story of a predator who has been detained or a victim who has escaped and survived. These stories give us hope. Make no mistake this is a HUGE human rights issue. But just because something seems difficult to address doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye or give up. I believe we have a responsibility as a people, whether you are in the social work field or not, to advocate for the human rights of all who are oppressed. It helps me to know that there are things we can do on a small scale to affect such a massive problem.
- Individuals who have no contact with friends or family and no access to identification documents, bank accounts, or cash;
- Workplaces where psychological manipulation and control are used;
- Homes or apartments with inhumane living conditions;
- People whose communications and movements are always monitored or who have moved or rotated through multiple locations in a short amount of time;
- Places where locks and fences are positioned to confine occupants; and
- Workers who have excessively long and unusual hours, are unpaid or paid very little, are unable take breaks or days off and have unusual work restrictions, and/or have unexplained work injuries or signs of untreated illness or disease.
Human trafficking victims can be found in many job locations and industries—including factories, restaurants, elder care facilities, hotels, housekeeping, child-rearing, agriculture, construction and landscaping, food processing, meat-packing, cleaning services…as well as the commercial sex industry (prostitution).
And here’s one more thing to consider: while the majority of human trafficking victims in FBI investigations are from other countries and may speak little or no English, approximately 33 percent of victims are Americans. They come from a variety of groups that are vulnerable to coercive tactics—like minors, certain immigrant populations, the homeless, substance abusers, the mentally challenged and/or minimally educated, and those who come from cultures that historically distrust law enforcement or who have little or no experience with the legal system.
A Georgia man has pled guilty in a human trafficking case that involved Herndon, VA juveniles.
For some reason, I have always been drawn to stories of heinous, unthinkable crimes. I constantly get sucked into tv shows such as First 48, American Greed, Dateline, Snapped, and pretty much anything on the Investigation Discovery channel (don’t judge me). I will sit through an hour and a half documentary (when I should be doing school work) just to find out in the last five minutes the person’s motive behind the crime. I guess that’s why I majored in psychology in undergrad. I need to know why people do the things they do. It seems to me that more often than not (in cases that involve a real motive), people are motivated by one thing, MONEY! “As Gordon Gekko told us in the movie Wall Street, greed is good, so make sure that you have it working on your side. Yet Mr. Gekko was not entirely correct. Greed can be bad-even for people who are entirely selfish” (Wheelan, 2010).
Well, I can’t think of too many examples of when greed is good, but I have one in particular that’s extremely bad: people exploiting other human beings, even their own children, just to make a dollar. You know money is a powerful motivator if parents are willing to sell their own children to the highest bidder. Some even do so to settle a debt. A woman can go through over 12 hours of labor and then 5 years later sell her over the internet to strangers, knowing their intent is to sexually exploit them. What is the world coming to?
I hate to say it, but money makes the world go ’round. I almost wish it would stop spinning, if it means that innocent people would no longer be sexually exploited so someone else can make a buck at their expense.