The sale of people happens in every country around the planet in a variety of ways. Labor trafficking commonly occurs in the making of products like bricks, clothing, and rugs. Another severe form of labor slavery happens in coffee fields around the world. Many multinational coffee conglomerates pay an “unfair wage” to coffee farmers that are actually less than what it costs to harvest the fields. The coffee farmers are then forced to employ their children instead of sending them to school, thus continuing the cycle of poverty in their community.
Sex slavery is one of the most lucrative spheres of the modern day slave trade. This involves the illegal trade of people in any form of sexual exploitation including prostitution, pornography, bride trafficking, and the commercial sexual abuse of children. This form of slavery also has led to sex tourism trips that involve men from around the world paying to have a planned tour that visits brothels in various countries with their eyes set on cheap sex.
Who does this happen to?
When 14 year old “Manna” ran away from her abusive home in South Asia, she met a woman who offered her a job selling fabric. She accepted the position, and the woman provided her a place to sleep for the night. When Manna awoke in the morning, the woman was gone, and Manna discovered that she was in a brothel. Manna attempted to refuse the first three men who had paid to rape her. The brothel keepers physically assaulted her until she lacked the strength to resist. For the next two years, she was held in the brothel and raped by customers for the profit of the brothel owners. She was freed when International Justice Mission investigators discovered her captivity and alerted local authorities, working with them to release her and three other young girls from the brothel. The brothel owners each received five year sentences.
When 16 year old “Nicole” received news that she had been accepted for a job modeling in the United States, she became very excited! Nicole grew up in a poor home in Ukraine that did not leave her with hope to one day get a successful job that would allow her to make enough money to support her family. Even though she did not speak the American language, she was sure that she would be able to learn and be successful. Upon her arrival to Miami, she was met at the airport and then asked for her travel papers “to keep them safe”. After handing them to the man, she was forced inside a van and then given a drink that made her fall asleep. When she woke up she had unknowingly traveled to Detroit where she was forced to work in a brothel for the safety of her family back in Ukraine. When local officials had received some information about the popularity of this brothel, Nicole was then drugged again and then unknowingly taken to Atlanta. It was here where an undercover detective met her in the brothel and made a plan for her to escape that consisted of 4 checkpoints along the way that would help maintain her safety. Her captors found Nicole after checking in at the 3rd checkpoint, so close to tasting freedom for her and her family.
In 2001, a California landlord and restaurant owner was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison for smuggling teenage girls from India in a sex and labor exploitation ring spanning 15 years and operating in India and California. He repeatedly raped and sexually abused his victims and forced them to work in his business. A 17 year old girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning in an apartment he owned.
In June of 2006, a couple from Egypt pleaded guilty to forcing a 10-year-old Egyption girl to work as a domestic servant to their family of seven in Irvine, California. The couple had forced the girl to sleep in the garage, with no light or ventilation, and had forbidden her to attend school or see a doctor. She had been held captive for 2 years when the couple was arrested.
Human trafficking by the numbers
27 million The number enslaved around the world (Kevin Bales, Not For Sale)
1.2 million The number of children estimated are trafficked each year (UNICEF)
2 Following drug trafficking, human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world today. (US State Department)
30 Billion dollar amount generated by exploiters. (International Labor Organization)
17,500 The number of trafficking victims trafficked into the US though most estimate this number to be much higher (US State Department)
12 major trafficking cities within the US are:
San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, New York, Portland, Anaheim, and Vancouver in Canada