If I asked you to name the third most profitable industry in the world, would you have the answer? Would you guess Hollywood, oil, or diamonds? Maybe a cash crop like sugar, coffee, or bananas would come to mind?
If you did, you’d be wrong. The truth is far from being as innocent as food, luxury, or entertainment.
The third most profitable industry in the world, lagging behind drug trafficking and arms sales, is human trafficking.
This pandemic is defined as the sale and exploitation of humans for sex and prostitution, pornography, involuntary labor, and debt bondage. From 14-year-old prostitutes in Cambodia to poor Central Americans enslaved on farms in the US to child servants in rich Haitian households, it is one of the most far-reaching, un-prosecuted, rampant issues we face as a global society.
How it’s Done
Depending on the trafficking ring, the starting country, and the destination country, traffickers use a variety of tactics to enslave humans, including intimidation, lies, and manipulation. Some people are sold by family members for cash, others are seduced by promised modeling contracts, and still others are kidnapped on the street.
Trafficked humans are then indebted to their slave drivers for the amount of money used to bribe border officials, pay their families, and to repay the cost of their food, clothing, and shelter. Many are kept for months or years, suffering physical violations, such as beatings and rape, as well as emotional and mental abuse.
Some Scary Statistics
- The human trafficking epidemic may seem far away to you, however, more and more people, both adult and children, are found in sex trafficking than labor trafficking; child victims are often runaway and homeless youth.
- On average, a human slave is purchased for $90.
There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world – more than ever before at any time in history.
In Cambodia, a brothel customer is charged up to $400 for a child virgin; afterward, his or her rate drops to as low as $2.00
The human trafficking industry earns an estimated $9 billion dollars per year.
What You Can Do
Get informed. Though slavery is a massive industry growing at a rapid rate, the general population knows very little. Do research. Learn telltale signs that someone is being trafficked. Share information with others.
Advocate. There are a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations working towards eliminating this horrendous crime. Signing petitions, helping fundraisers, and promoting organizations all help.
- 2010’s Top 10 Victories in the Fight Against Human Trafficking (humantrafficking.change.org)
- 2010’s Human Trafficking Heroes (humantrafficking.change.org)
- 2010’s Human Trafficking Zeros (humantrafficking.change.org)
- Sex Trafficking Victim Sara Kruzan Wins Commuted Sentence (womensrights.change.org)
- Tulsans Observe Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day January 11, 2011 (prweb.com)