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Slavery, Part 3 – Even Today

October 2, 2016

Bangladeschi child labor, Author Niriho khoka (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

“Every day, millions of Americans use products or eat foods that are produced by slave labor.   Rare metals from Africa are embedded in our cell phones.  Harvested fish or fruit or fabric are thawing in our fridge or hanging in our closets [1].”

Human trafficking is among the fastest growing and most lucrative criminal enterprises [2].  Currently, there may be as many as 46 million slaves worldwide – more than at any time in history.

The problem of trafficking is closely tied to that of poverty.  Ironically, trafficking is estimated to generate over $150 billion in profit annually [3].

Today’s slaves fall into three categories:

  1. Those including children forced into the sex trade;
  2. Those including children forced to engage in heavy labor, e.g.  brickmaking, rock quarrying, and cocoa production;
  3. Those including children utilized as soldiers, involuntary organ donors, drug mules, etc.

Two thirds of the world’s slaves can be found in India, Pakistan, and China (18.3 million in India alone).  However, the United States is, also, an importer.  Some 300,000 children are thought to be trafficked in the United States (100,000 in the sex trade alone).  Other large slave markets include Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Cambodia.

Deceit, Abduction, and Coercion

Trafficking is accomplished by means of deceit, abduction, and coercion.  A recruiter will visit an impoverished village promising good jobs, good wages, and good living conditions.  These promises are all false.

Children, since they are defenseless; those anxious to improve their lives; and refugees fleeing conflict, since they lack social support, are targeted.

Some children are actually trafficked by their own families.  Two out of three children trafficked are girls, the most marginal members of what may be a desperately poor family.

Prostitutes outside gogo bar in Thailand, Author Kay Chernosh for the US State Dept., Source Images of Human Trafficking https://gtipphotos.state.gov/photos.htm (PD)

Prostitutes outside a bar in Thailand, Author Kay Chernosh for the US State Dept., Source Images of Human Trafficking https://gtipphotos.state.gov/photos.htm (PD)

Slaves are instructed to hand over their passports and other identification to the trafficker [4][5].  Violence and intimidation are used to coerce compliance and prevent escape.  Slaves may be denied food, kept in darkness, fed alcohol and drugs, and/or beaten.  Threats may, also, be made against the families they left behind.

Close to Home

Human trafficking is often hidden in plain sight.  It need not involve foreign nationals.  Perhaps 8 out of 10 prostitutes on American streets are being coerced, whether or not they recognize and acknowledge it to authorities.

A pimp may initially have offered a homeless girl (or boy) a dry place to sleep.  That “kindness” is quickly exposed as deceit, with a view toward enslavement.  Keep in mind that the average starting age for prostitutes in the United States is 13 y.o. [6A and 6B]. 

Prostitutes may be required to service 15-20 men per day.  If that quota is not met, the girl (or boy) is harshly punished.  A pimp can make $200,000/year from a single trafficking victim.  But the trafficking victim sees none of that.

“You just want to get your quota…and…stay alive another night.”

–        Moniquika Sutton, trafficking victim [6C]

And the longer a prostitute remains in the sex trade, the greater his/her chances of disease, rape or other violence by a “date” a/k/a john.

International Protocols on Human Trafficking

The UN and International Labor Organization (ILO) have developed a legal framework with the goal of reducing the profitability and increasing the risk of trafficking, globally.  Most nations including the US have signed the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, adhering – in theory, at any rate – to the protocols on human trafficking.

Enforcement is, however, difficult.   For poor nations, trafficking may not be a priority.  In many nations, policing has been compromised by corruption.  Both reporting and prosecution rates are low.  Victims may fear incarceration or deportation.

National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline
1-888-373-7888

Non-government organizations (NGOs) like Free the Slaves have taken on the task of increasing awareness, establishing hotlines, and addressing rehabilitation.

Under United States law, the importation of goods made by slave labor is prohibited.  American businesses with overseas supply chains must now verify that slave labor was not involved in the manufacture of their products [7][8].

Freedom and Equality

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing” (Luke 15: 4-5).

Were additional proof needed of the sin nature of mankind, the pernicious institution of slavery, and its presence throughout history would suffice to remove all doubt.

As Americans and Christians these facts should trouble us greatly.

One hundred fifty years ago, the African American abolitionist, Underground Railroad conductor, civil rights activist, and historian William Still wrote:

“Now, thank God, we have no more slavery to oppress us; we have no more tyrants to flee from; the prison house and the Underground Railroad are things of the past…Let us not forget the days of our bondage however, but let us keep constantly in memory the pit from whence we were digged and the rock from whence we were hewed – that our children may see what their parents have suffered…and stand up fully for God and freedom while life lasts.”

Those words have still not been fully realized.

A nation founded – at least in principle – on the concepts of freedom and equality should do better.  A nation that is (or was once) Christian can do better.  A nation that cares for its children and the children of the world – whatever their color – must do better.

[1]  PBS Newshour, Shortwave, “You probably benefited from slave labor today” by PJ Tobia, 4/8/15, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/slave-made-goods-now-available-freezer-section/.

[2]  YouTube.com, PBS Series Great Decisions, “Modern Day Slavery – Full Episode”, 3/28/16, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ielKBf5Jp6E.

[3]  Forbes, “Report Concludes India Has Most Number of Slaves Globally” by Megha Bahree, 5/31/16,  http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghabahree/2016/05/31/india-has-the-highest-number-of-slaves-globally-report/#507fc832c789.

[4]  Human trafficking is not synonymous with illegal immigration, since it is not voluntary.  The victims of trafficking are, by definition, in a condition of enforced servitude.  Fear of trafficking can, however, prompt population movement.  The United States in 2014 experienced a wave of immigration by children from Central America fleeing enslavement by criminal gangs.

[5]  NY Times, “Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to US Border” by Frances Robles, 7/9/14,  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/10/world/americas/fleeing-gangs-children-head-to-us-border.html?_r=0.

[6A][6C]  Maryland Public Television (MPT), “Unlocking Invisible Fences”, 11/17/14, http://video.mpt.tv/video/2365376551/.

[6B]  The majority of American children on their own at this early age are runaways from abusive homes.  With no skills, they have nothing to barter for food and shelter but their sexuality.

[7]  PBS Newshour, Shortwave, “US cracks down on products made by slave labor, but hurdles remain” by PJ Tobia, 3/12/16, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/u-s-cracks-down-on-products-made-by-slave-labor-but-hurdles-remain/ .

[8]  Washington Post, “The cobalt pipeline:  From dangerous tunnels in Congo to consumers’ mobile tech” by Todd Frankel, 9/30/16, https://www.washingtonpost.com/classic-apps/the-cobalt-pipeline-from-dangerous-tunnels-in-congo-to-consumers-mobile-tech/2016/09/30/66103382-5a8c-11e6-9767-f6c947fd0cb8_story.html.

With special thanks to Marie Williams for her invaluable input

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

18 Comments
  1. So much of this I had no idea of. This is such an informative post detailing the evils of present day slavery. Would that it were not so.

  2. Monochrome nightmares permalink

    An eye opening post Anna.
    It’s just beyond belief.

    • The scale of this is heartbreaking.

    • Monochrome nightmares permalink

      Hi Anna.
      I do so hope my comments on
      your other site didn’t offend you in any way?

      Alan.

      • Not in the least. I was grateful someone pointed out my oversight! Is that what you meant? I can’t seem to figure out how to embed the link from one blog to the other. Instead, I include it manually at the end of every post…when I remember, that is (LOL).

  3. Anna I had no idea it was this bad! And I had no idea it was this bad, here in the United States. Thank you for the wake up call. I hope more Christians get involved with fighting this problem.

  4. tabitha59reachingout permalink

    Oh that we all would do better. Thanks, Anna. 🙂

  5. tabitha59reachingout permalink

    Reblogged this on sistersreachout and commented:
    One more time, folks. I must share this. I learned some things here. I share it with you in the hopes of a far better North America. God bless you all. Debbie

  6. I am thankful for the ministries who rescue the victims of sex trafficking, and offer them counseling.. this is a dangerous task.. Thank you for exposing the darkness, so more can pray against it.

    • Thank you for hearing me out on this vital issue, Mary Ann. I agree that ministries like Covenant House deserve our prayers and financial support. Covenant House distributes a paperback called, “Sometimes God Has a Kid’s Face”. That for me says it all.

  7. And if we dig deeper into this Anna, I believe we will find that all of us in North America play a large part in the ever burgeoning slave trade in the country’s you mentioned.

    How so? We in America are very price conscious,refusing to pay more than what we seem to be fair market value for certain things. Like clothing for instance.

    Manufacturers,who answer to shareholders,must turn a profit in order to survive. Wages and benefits make up the bulk of the costs associated with manufacturing,and history has proven that such costs ,when attributed to U.S. labor are prohibitive.

    Enter countries like India,China,etc..who are desperate to build their own economies. Paying workers next to nothing ensures they can compete in this market,albeit at the expense of countless millions. Enslaved people’s feed this diabolical machine,while we who ultimately receive the benefits of their slave labor stare at ourselves in the mirror as we admire ourselves in that new dress or shirt,courtesy of the wretched who are trapped with no way out.

  8. Heartbreaking series, Anna! 😥 💜 Jackie@KWH

    • It staggers me not only that racism continues to exist, but that slavery remains a reality. Always glad to hear from you, Jackie. Have a blessed Christmas! ❤

      • Yup, staggering! :-/ Christmas blessings to you too, Anna… and hope for a slavery-free tomorrow! 🙂 💜 Jackie@KWH

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