By Dustin Barks, Staff Writer
We’ve all seen “Taken” and most of us know that the threat of humans being kidnapped and sold is very real. Despite the movies’ happy-ending not everyone can be Liam Neeson.
Once the child has been gone for a day or so they’re usually out of the country and untraceable. The grim reality of human trafficking is it’s profitable, easy to hide and difficult to punish. These qualities are the reason that selling and buying humans is a growing industry in North America. It is estimated that at any given time there are approximately 2.4 million victims, most of them girls between age 11 and 14, caught in the black market human trade profiting over 30 billion dollars a year. Human Trafficking is a close third to guns and drugs but with less punishment.
During International Education Week, SCC hosted a seminar about human trafficking. While the message was outstanding, the delivery lacked a certain amount of grit the audience expected. Humans being sold for the buyer’s desire is an evil topic in itself and to really send a message, the presentation needed to grab the attention of the audience with an uglier viewing.
When trafficked, the victims are laundered through usually three different countries. The first is the country where they are kidnapped, usually on vacation or in war torn countries. After that they are immediately taken to a new country where they are to be purchased and then again taken to a new country for use. They are usually purchased into brothels with poor conditions or massage parlors for prostitution. If one were to refuse to work, they are often starved and made an example to others.
About 91 percent of human trafficking victims are sold for sex and over fifty percent of them are children. Another strategy used for attaining victims is buying young girls from very poor Asian and Indian families. They just sell their daughters into what is promised to be a better life and then never see the results. These victims are often abused and neglected prior to their entry into human trafficking and never get to see outside their cruel life. There are programs in place to rehabilitate people that have faced these cruelties. The therapy works well and since it has been implemented only 4 percent of people that escape human trafficking end up on welfare.
The strategies are so creative and the people are so low maintenance that it’s almost impossible to catch these people with the resources and manpower we are currently putting towards it. The people that sell people are good at hiding it and the systems in effect to stop these crimes are hazy and complicated. Even if a trafficker is caught it is taken lightly due to haziness. While a drug dealer, cut and dry is selling drugs and profiting they can do upwards of twenty years in prison, a person that kidnaps or sells people or hooks out people, they only get around five years in jail because there is so many steps involved that no one person is held responsible.
These events happen in our own backyard. Kentucky’s sex trade ranks among the highest in the world. Any given year an average of 14,000-17,000 people are trafficked into the United States and forced into prostitution. On the other hand in there are upwards of 244,000 children at risk in the United States alone this year. There is a psychological concept called the bystander effect and it states that sometimes people do not intervene with situations as they expect others to. This is something we’ve got to overcome and become proactive.
The more we shove this ugly concept in people’s faces, the more awareness can spread. It’s the gritty ugly details that make people really take notice and hopefully one day there will enough like-minded and proactive people to finally help take down this evil industry.