By Elaine Ching
Volume 2 Issue 5
March 28, 2022
Original artwork by Elaine Ching
When asked about human trafficking, most people just know that it is a bad thing – that it is just “another dark thing that happens in the world.” However, most people do not know the full extent of it. Merriam Webster defines human trafficking as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited (as by being forced into prostitution or involuntary labor).” However, human trafficking is much more than a simple definition.
Human traffickers are not picky when it comes to finding victims. Victims of human trafficking range from any age, including children. Any person, regardless of race or gender, can become a victim of human trafficking. A human trafficking victim can be from any country or social class. Anyone can be human trafficked.
Human traffickers have many manipulation tactics that can be used in order to find their next victim. Traffickers have more tactics that just “snatching up people,” although that may be one of their strategies. They could use violence as a threat or promise relationships and friendships in order to lure lonely, vulnerable people in. They may also offer money or well-paying employment opportunities to those in need of financial help. In addition, human traffickers have many ways to keep their victims within the trafficking system. While fear is a tactic, the way that traffickers evoke these emotions is important. They could use physical and sexual punishment or manipulate law enforcement into an image of an enemy. Victims will not approach people in public out of the fear that has been instilled within them.
You might be thinking, “What happens to these victims?” Well, what victims are forced to do and the effect of human trafficking on their health varies. While sex trafficking, the act of victims being non-consensually and sexually exploited, does exist, there are other forms of human trafficking, one of those being forced labor. Victims can be exploited in almost any way that relates to labor. This can range from restaurants, hotels, agriculture, factories, sweatshops, and illegitimate labor industries. The trafficking can also cause victims negative effects on their mental health. Symptoms can range from post-traumatic stress disorder, guilt, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and using drugs and alcohol to cope. The effects are not easy to undo.
The common signs of human trafficking may not always indicate the issue. Sometimes the symptoms may be unrelated, such as signs of mental illness or domestic abuse. However, signs of human trafficking can also differ from the norm, ranging from school absences, a dramatic change of behavior, or no control self-control, such as freedom of speech.
If you notice any of these signs or are suspicious of any human trafficking, the national hotline is: 1-(888) 373-7888. If you witness human trafficking, do not confront the victim or the suspected human trafficker, let the professionals handle it. Signs should be reported as you could possibly save a person’s life or prevent significant trauma.