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  • Steve Hamelman

Human Trafficking: An Evil Crime Against Humanity

This month, January, we are reminded of an evil crime against humanity that seems to take place in nearly every nation on earth: the trafficking of human beings for profit.

For by proclamation on December 31, 2019, President Trump declared January 2020 National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month (NSHTPM).

Easy to Define, Hard to Fathom

Wikipedia’s definition of this atrocity merely hints at a crime of astonishing reach: “Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.”

From Afghanistan and Albania to Zambia and Zimbabwe, no country is left untainted by human predators seeking to lure vulnerable or innocent people into their clutches.

Who’s at risk? Impoverished young women in rural villages dreaming of a better life in the city, refugees, runaways, orphaned children, migrant workers, the homeless. . . .

Criminal networks recruit, transport, sell, and coerce their prey into sexual, agricultural, and industrial bondage from which it is almost impossible to escape.

The conditions are unspeakable, the suffering beyond compare.

First Obama, Then Trump

The first observance of NSHTPM was announced in January 2010 by President Barack Obama. This act reinforced America’s commitment to ending a problem tackled in 2000 with the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.

President Trump has upheld Obama’s precedent by again declaring January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In his declaration Trump highlights funding initiatives aimed at this domestic and international tragedy.

The Bare Stats

Data published by agencies such as the United States Department of Defense and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime suggest the staggering impact of human trafficking.

In sum: of the 25 million victims globally, 20 million (all ages) labor in brutal servitude, and five million are subject to rape, prostitution, sham marriages, and all other forms of sexual exploitation.

The total estimated windfall for their oppressors is $150 billion.

Worth Reading

In June 2019, the government released the 527-page “Trafficking in Persons Report” (TIP) with a foreword by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who lamented “how depraved this assault on human dignity really is.”

Americans who wish to deepen their grasp of this sinister practice in the United States, as well as in countries they intend to visit, are advised to browse the nearly five hundred pages of national profiles in the TIP.

What Can We Do?

Awareness of this crime against humanity is the first step in the right direction.

As we go about our daily business, let’s be alert, vigilant, mindful. Let’s teach our children to be wary of potential predators. Let’s share our concerns with friends, church members, and school officials.

And when we see something suspicious, let’s not hesitate to call or text the Human Trafficking Hotline.

Finally, let’s support all non-partisan attempts to eradicate this blight from our own nation and the rest of the world too.

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