Trafficking a problem worldwide

Published 8:13 am Thursday, January 18, 2018

While there has long been a misconception that slavery is a thing of the past, especially in the U.S., the truth of the matter is that modern-slavery is very common.

There are more then 25 million victims of modern-day slavery worldwide (if forced marriage is included, those statistics jump to more than 40 million victims).

According to the International Labour Organization, there are 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world. One in four of those victims are children.

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Women and girls are disproportionately affected by trafficking, accounting for 99 percent of victims in the commercial sex industry and 58 percent in other sectors.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Human trafficking is a crime in which force, fraud or coercion is used to compel a person to perform labor, services or commercial sex. It affects all populations: adults, children, men, women, foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, and all economic classes. The Defense Department continues to raise awareness and do its part to end this crime.

Human trafficking affects all populations — adults, children, men, women, foreign nations, U.S. citizens and all economic classes.

Unfortunately, this heinous crime is one that is highly profitable.

The DOD reported that $99 billion per year is made from sex trafficking, and 4.5 million people worldwide are victims of force sexual exploitation. Another $51 billion is made each year from the use of forced labor, and 21 million people worldwide are now victims of forced labor.

The issue of modern of slavery and human trafficking are such a concern, even in our country, that annually, the president proclaims January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

In December, President Donald Trump issued the proclamation, expressing his own concern about the dangerous trend.

“Human trafficking is a modern form of the oldest and most barbaric type of exploitation. Human trafficking is a sickening crime at odds with our very humanity,” Trump wrote. “Americans must learn how to identify and combat the evil of enslavement.  This is especially important for those who are most likely to encounter the perpetrators of slavery and their victims, including healthcare providers, educators, law enforcement officials, and social services professionals. By taking steps to become familiar with the telltale signs of traffickers or the signals of their victims, Americans can save innocent lives.”

Another common misconception is that human trafficking is not a problem in the U.S. or in Kentucky.

The DOD also found that one in six endangered runaways reported in the U.S. are likely to become sex trafficking victims. The National Human Trafficking Hotline releases statistics about each state, and Kentucky is no exception.

In 2017, there were 141 calls to report possible trafficking and 33 confirmed cases in the state. Of those, 22 involved some type of sex labor. Other types of labor included agriculture, health and beauty services, domestic work, construction and even traveling carnivals. There were 27 female victims and six male victims identified, 11 of those were minors, eight were U.S. citizens. Since 2007, there have been 1,686 calls to report trafficking, and 373 confirmed cases.

Clearly this is a problem in communities like ours across the nation, and is a global concern.

Here are some ways that you can help combat the issue:

— Be responsible consumer. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor website a to learn about goods that might be produced by forced or child labor.

— Call lawmakers and urge them to provide aid to combat human trafficking. Tell them you care about victims of human trafficking and ensuring sufficient aid to help trafficking survivors.

— Keep an eye out for signs or red flags that might indicate slavery, trafficking or forced labor. It is better to be overly vigilant.