January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This is a time dedicated to raising awareness, providing education, and taking action to combat this heinous crime. Human Trafficking is a crime hidden in plain site happening every day in California, the United States, and all over the world.
This year and around this time last year, Rima Nashashibi, founder and president of Global Hope 365, together with Orange County Supervisor chairman Doug Chaffee and his staff authored a resolution that was adopted unanimously by the Orange County Board of Supervisors recognizing January as National Trafficking and Modern Slavery Prevention Month.
On a national level, every January, the Department of State raises awareness of human trafficking domestically and abroad through U.S. embassies and consulates. It also celebrates the efforts of anti-trafficking organizations such as Global Hope 365, communities of faith, state and local law enforcement, survivor advocates, businesses, and private citizens all around the world to promote this important cause. Everyone can and must play a part in ending human trafficking. It is happening in every town, city and rural area in America and across the globe. Sex trafficking, labor trafficking, debt bondage, forced marriage, domestic servitude, forced begging and more surrounds our world.
Human trafficking is an exploitation-based crime that deprives a person of their personal liberty and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of carrying out labor services or commercial sex acts.
Human Trafficking in Numbers
To put it in numbers, worldwide there are an estimated 40.3 million victims, in the United States there is an estimated number of 403,000 victims, and 6,211 in California. In Orange County alone, there are 13 new victims identified every month. In 2016, 88% of labor trafficking victims were foreign nationals, 94% of sex trafficking victims were U.S. nationals, and 32% of sex trafficking victims were minors. The U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline saw a nearly 20% increase in the number of victims and survivors directly contacting the hotline from 2018 to 2019. Human trafficking is prevalent, and frequently misunderstood. It changes with the times and often happens closer to home than some might believe.
The Pandemic increased recruitment for sex trafficking
Online recruitment for sex trafficking in the U.S. has seen a steep increase during the pandemic. The potential victims, mostly teens, are just spending way more time unsupervised on their devices. They tend to get more approaches by predators online, and that’s been on the rise since the beginning of COVID. Other factors caused by the pandemic, such as economic instability, further increase someone's vulnerability to trafficking.
Human Trafficking does not happen in a vacuum
It’s important to always remember that human trafficking doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The things that make people vulnerable to trafficking certainly did increase in the COVID era. There were a lot of people who were hurting economically.
U.S. marshals, who often conduct operations to recover missing, endangered, or abducted children, assisted with the recovery of 950 “critically missing children” in 2021, an approximately 145% increase over 2020.
Parent Supervision to prevent Human Trafficking
Most children know more about the Internet than adults do. As a result, many parents do not supervise their children's Internet use. Here are some surprising statistics:
Only 52% of parents moderately supervise their children's Internet use
Some 71% of parents stop supervising Internet use by their children after the age of 14, yet 72% of all Internet-related missing children cases involve children who are 15 years of age or older
Understanding what trafficking looks like is important. Parents need resources to spot the dangers of Human Trafficking. If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline 888-373-7888 or visit globalhope365.org for more information on Human Trafficking and valuable resources that can help understand the dangers and warning signs of Human Trafficking.
The Role of Supply and Demand in Markets
The concepts of supply and demand are fundamental building blocks in commercial economies. Supply represents any particular product the market offers, and demand refers to the desire for those products among potential buyers.
Sexual Exploitation and Supply
When these concepts are applied to forms of sexual exploitation such as prostitution, pornography, or sex trafficking, the “supply” refers to those who are bought and sold for in-person sex or whose sexually explicit images are commodified and/or bartered. This objectifies and diminishes the humanity of those being supplied (predominantly women and children, but also people of any gender) by rendering human beings into public sexual commodities.
Sexual Exploitation and Demand
In contrast, those who make up the “demand” are the individuals with the desire and means to purchase people to use for sex (again, whether in person, virtual, or digital or film photography formats).
As the driving force fueling the markets for paid sex, these “buyers” represent the consumer-level demand. Without them making the decision to buy sex acts, sexual exploitation would end. No buyers, no business.
Those who comprise the demand are overwhelmingly male.
How Can we stop Sex Buying?
Shift law enforcement’s finite resources from arresting and adjudicating prostituted persons toward arresting and adjudicating sex buyers
Make available federal short-term funding programs to support state and local law enforcement agencies ready to make demand-reduction reforms
Implement mandatory minimum fines on adjudicated sex buyers to help offset costs of survivor exit services, effective long-term sex buyer education programs, and law enforcement operations
Create increasingly severe penalty structures for repeat buyers, while ensuring that sanctions are consistent with the nature of the offense and not unfairly punitive
Counter messages that normalize sex buying through interventions in education and public health sectors