By Kylee Bagley
Sorry Abe, but slavery is not dead. According to the International Labor Organization, human trafficking affects over 20.9 million victims daily, but the majority of Americans think slavery ended in 1863 with the dawning of the Emancipation Proclamation Act. DoSomething.org cites that a slave today costs $90 globally. That’s over 50% less than your rose gold iPhone. There are three main types of human trafficking: sex, labor, and child. Where is this modern day slavery happening? In your cities, of course, and Cumberland County is no exception.
Human trafficking is a supply and demand driven criminal industry. Jamie Bagley, a local pastor with a PhD in philosophy, has been working to bring awareness to human trafficking since 2001. When asked to give a definition of human trafficking in laymen’s terms, Bagley said, “The unlawful transferring/ transporting of people for forced labor or sexual exploitation.” Unfortunately, the demand for cheap labor, services, and commercial sex are extremely high across the 50 states and even higher across the globe.
According to TraffickingResourceCenter.org, the human trafficking market generates $150 billion in profits yearly worldwide. Traffickers use force, fraud, and coercion to control their victims. Eighty percent of human trafficking victims are made into sex workers. These women and men are forced to work in residential brothels, escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and as street prostitutes. It can be hard to spot victims, and almost impossible to get them to admit that they are slaves.
Five and a half million human trafficking victims are children. In 2014, 1 of 6 runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were taken as trafficking victims. You may wonder what exactly “child trafficking” means. When children are sold or taken into child slavery they are forced to work in sweatshops, construction sites, and brothels, as domestic servants, beggars, and child soldiers. The United States is considered a “source and transit” country, wherein victims are found and transported through and throughout America with relative ease. It is one of the top destination points for child victims of exploitation.
Most people who are victims of human trafficking live in constant fear of their abductor.
The trafficker carries all the power in the relationship and brainwashes victims into believing they are indebted. Victims will feel reluctant to accept help because their trust has been immeasurably broken and they don’t think anyone will be able to help them. Some even feel as if it is better to stay a victim because their trafficker “takes care of them.” He/she provides them with a place to sleep, food (minimal), and what they are made to believe is love. Most victims do not realize the help they are able to receive from the proper authorities and think trying to get out will do more harm than good.
When educating others on human trafficking, Bagley refers to it as, “the systematic evil of slavery that thrives in our culture.” He uses personal recounts of victims to elicit emotional responses from listeners. In 2008, Bagley was put in contact with a human trafficking victim that had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution in Las Vegas, where she had moved from Paraguay to make money to send home to her family. After months of turmoil she escaped and ended up in North Jersey. Bagley and other local pastors began collecting donations for the woman and were able to send her home to her mother and five children.
The Polaris Project, a non-profit that works to end modern day slavery, stated that more than 18,000 cases of human trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in the past eight years. This happens from receiving over 100 calls a day from all 50 states. Last year, New Jersey had 86 cases of human trafficking reported, but just imagine how many went unreported.
William Wilberforce, an English politician who joined British parliament during the early 1800’s, was asked to confront slavery under his new title by friends. At the end of his presentation to Parliament, Wilberforce said, “You can choose to turn your head and look the other way, but you can never say you did not know.” The only way human trafficking can be eliminated is through awareness, which sparks change in the hearts of the people.