“Every minute, two children are sexually exploited for money.”
That number has probably changed since I wrote this on Facebook in 2010. Most likely, it’s increased, given the FBI rescuing over a hundred children from trafficking situations recently. It’s impossible to know for absolute certain, but here are a few other facts.
79% of human trafficking is sex slavery. Sex slavery is predominantly women and girls, though boys are trafficked as well.
In 30% of countries participating in a particular survey, women actually made up the majority of the traffickers.
The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labor at 18%
Worldwide, children make up 20% of the trafficking industry, although this number skyrockets to 100% in some African countries.
Trafficking isn’t mainly international – it’s domestic, and can happen anywhere.
The truth of the matter is, these are just statistics. We don’t know for certain just how many people are exploited, sold, “owned” by others on a daily, hourly basis. Sometimes, it even takes the form of kidnapping children and selling them for adoption. As worded in the miniseries starring Donald Sutherland and Mira Sorvino, “Human trafficking is the business of the future for criminal organizations.” Someone can buy drugs once, and that’s that until the dealer gets more supply. But a woman or a child or anyone forced into labor? They can be sold again. And again. And again. For tens of thousands of dollars each time, any time of day or night, in any conditions. Children in forced labor could very well be making that brand of chocolate you love so much, or that really cute blouse you saw in the window at the mall yesterday, for little to no pay and in the most horrifying of conditions.
In the case of sex trafficking, women and children are lured away from their homes, their families, their lives, on the premise of a better life. Sometimes, they are kidnapped. Sometimes, in the hardest cases, they are sold into the industry by family members, loved ones. They are raped, beaten, and sometimes starved as part of “initiation” or “breaking in”, and from that moment forward, hell is a reality to these people. Brothels, street corners, Backpage.com, any other form of social media or internet advertising, pornography. (Contrary to popular belief, porn is a part of sex trafficking. Most people who involve themselves in it cannot escape. They are beaten. They are tossed around, told they’re worthless, that they are owned.) If a slave becomes pregnant, she is forced to have an abortion, then blamed for “not being careful”. If a child falls ill, he or she is most likely killed. If anyone attempts to stand up to a pimp, pain unimaginable awaits in the form of a beating, or worse, death. To those in this situation, there is no hope.
And we at home sit back, cluck our tongues, turn away from the news channel, and mumble, “Oh, how awful.”
And we do nothing.
People are not property. Your sister, your mother, your daughter, your niece, cousin, son, best friend? They are not OWNED. They are HUMAN BEINGS.
If it were them, we wouldn’t be so complacent.
So why are we so apathetic towards someone else’s sister, mother, daughter, niece, cousin, son, friend?
It. Must. Stop. Here.