Human Trafficking and Anti-Human Trafficking Research and Advocacy Educative Session

The Social Science Symposium was gracious enough to organize an educative session on “Human Trafficking and Anti-Human Trafficking Research and Advocacy”. The faculty sponsor for this event was Professor Tony Talbott of the Political Science and Human Rights Center. Presenters for this particular session were Caitlin Avecedo, Amal Alrasheed, Alexander Altich, Eric Ashbrook , Andrew Bezjian, Manda Cash, Guisela Crespo , Abigail Dibady , Alison Hiatt, Charles Hite, Michael Melrose, Alexander MIngus and William O’shea. The presentation had been allotted two hours, from 12.00pm in the afternoon to 2.00pm with all the presenters expected to be prompt and concise while presenting.

The introductory part of this presentation consisted of the definition of human trafficking, reasons why there is proliferation of this despicable crime in the 21st Century and the statistics related to this phenomenon. Human trafficking, as we had learnt in our previous classes, is an illicit activity where individuals are enlisted, harbored, transported or abducted for exploitative purposes which include sexual slavery, bonded labor or child soldiery. The main reasons given by the first presenter as to why human trafficking was on the rise was corruption. Corrupt government officers would accept bribes from these cabals and in turn get the leeway to transport these people from the source countries to their destination. On the statistical flank, it was estimated that there are 27 million enslaved people around the world today,  200000 of them being in the United States of America and 1087 in Toledo and Dayton, Ohio. In addition to this, it is also estimated that human trafficking rakes in a whooping 150 Billon dollars annually as revenue from their illicit activities, money which is exclusively for traffickers alone.

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Human trafficking contains two main aspects, and these are sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The second part of the presentation was centered on sex trafficking specifically. This involved the coercion of enslaved individuals to either engage commercial sex acts such as prostitution and pornography. This is usually for money, dressings or illegal drugs. Women, men or children could all be victims of sex trafficking but it is the women and girls who make the bulk of these victims. These sex slaves, it was said, came from areas in South East Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe;  areas usually affected by war, oppression and unimaginable destitution. They would be acquired by their slavers through abduction, luring them using the promise of jobs, poor families selling their children and by the slaves themselves in some startling situations. The slaves would lure other victims as their owners control them and sometimes want to gain favors such as money for proper food and clothing, a classic case of Stockholm syndrome.

The third bit of the discussion involved the Economic aspect human trafficking. It was said that out of the 150 Billion dollars generated annually from human trafficking, 99 Billion came directly from sexual exploitation. It is the high demand of these slaves due to its profitability, globalization and the low prices of the slaves that drives this trade. To add to this, conviction rates are very low and the Trafficking Victim Protection Act of 2007 has still not fully clamped down on this heinous crime. The reason is that human trafficking is poorly understood for examples authorities might arrest prostitutes during a swoop and most of the times view them as perpetrators while some may well be victims of sex trafficking.

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Anti-Human Trafficking laws, was the fourth, and in this bit the presenter had legislation the United States of America as its focal point.  The first comprehensive piece of legislation passed in the U.S.A was the Trafficking Victim Protection Act of 2007 which had the three pronged approach (Prevention, Protection and Prosecution) as its mantra and modus operandi. Another piece of legislation was the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 which wanted to mainly focus on holding the perpetrators of these crimes to account for their actions. This bit also mentioned lack of adequate funding as being the main problem facing many security apparatus in this fight as had been mentioned earlier in class with Ireland being a case study. Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 was the third piece of legislation which focused mainly on minors and children in foster care. Labor trafficking was also briefly discussed here and this mostly was said to involve individuals who could not repay high debts. These individuals would work in the agricultural sector, hospitality sector and also as domestic workers.

The presentation ended with tabling of their Slavery Footprint Survey which was carried out around the University of Dayton and its environs. The survey had over 1,200 responses and questions ranged from question on how to end slavery to how aware individuals of which particular cheap clothing are produced using slave labor. The Fair Trade model of making consumers aware of where exactly the products they use come from and what labor was involved to make them. The University of Dayton also went ahead to implement this Fair Trade Resolution as per May 16th 2016, signed by the President Eric Spina. The institution, from the dining hall to the library, would now have only Fair Trade regulated goods and the community at large would be made aware.

In conclusion, reflecting on this educative session, it is important to use every single tool at our disposal to ensure we end slavery and all those individuals responsible for its permeability.  This additional information will definitely expand my knowledge on the subject of human trafficking.

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