Monday, January 24, 2011

Human Trafficking Victims and Modern Day Slavery

by Cyndi Roberts, Staff Writer (Ranked #70 expert in Societies, Religion & Culture)

The United Nation’s International Labour Organization estimates that at any given moment, a minimum of 270,000 human trafficking victims are being exploited in Europe and North America. This is also known as modern day slavery.

Today’s slaves are not stolen and forced into labor like slavery was done historically. People living in poverty around the world are promised jobs and financial security. They are vulnerable because of their economic and social conditions. Many victims are approached downtown on the streets or working out in the fields. Someone pulls up in a truck and tells them that they have work for them. They are told of high paying jobs in affluent areas. Because their families are hungry or in need of medicine, naive people are lured into taking jobs. Parents are often deceived into letting their children go, thinking they will have a better life working for rich people. The human trafficking victims are taken hundreds or thousands of miles away and then put to work in deplorable conditions. The work is dangerous, hard and demeaning. The overseer is cruel and demanding.

There are various methods used to control these unfortunate individuals. Often, they are introduced to drugs so that they can become addicted to them. This makes it easier for the traffickers to get what they want. There is little pay or no paycheck at all and they are forced into debt by those in control. People who end up in this situation are often physically restrained and are subject to extreme physical and mental abuse. They do not seek help because they fear their loved ones will be punished or killed.

UNICEF reports that about 1.2 million children are forced into modern day slavery each year. It is estimated that close to half of them are under the age of 18. There are some serious problems for women and children who have become the property of their owners. Many are expected to be prostitutes and to fulfill the demands of paying clients. It is especially difficult for these human trafficking victims because some countries regulate or legalize prostitution. These countries actually benefit from the taxes they get from brothels. Other countries decriminalize prostitution to the point that there are no laws to protect those being abused. Women and children are also victimized by domestic trafficking. Maids and nannies are made to work long hours and are kept in isolation. These exploited individuals are not given proper medical treatment. Many of them suffer from diseases such as HIV and experience severe dental problems.

Many people in Europe and the United States do not think it is possible that modern day slavery could be going on in villages and cities around them. Unfortunately, it is happening all over the world. In fact, some traffickers are operating in suburban neighborhoods. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, the United States, Thailand, Japan, and Israel are popular destination countries for trafficked women and girls.

There are various groups that are now working hard to combat modern day slavery. They are trying to empower and protect human trafficking victims. As people throughout the globe become more educated about this situation, many more of these victims will be helped.

Human Trafficking Victims and Modern Day Slavery
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