Understanding The Complexities Of Modern Slavery

According to reports, there are more people enslaved in the world today than ever before. How did this happen and what do we need to do to stop it?

By Bronte Price, PolitcKING

Modern day slavery is an issue most people know very little about, even though it is happening all around us. According to the human rights group, "Anti-Slavery International," there are an estimated 21 million people enslaved in the world today. Slavery is not legal anywhere in the world, however it occurs in every country. There are different types of slavery including forced labor, and sex trafficking. Modern day slavery is a bigger problem now than it’s ever been. The US Department of State estimates between 14,000 and 20,000 individuals are trafficked into this country every year.

Andrea Powell, Executive Director of "Fair Girls," a resource for survivors of sex trafficking based in Washington, D.C., came on PolitcKING recently and spoke with Matthew Cooke about sex trafficking and her organization. Powell co-founded FAIR Girls in 2003, “to empower and assist young women and girl survivors of labor and sex trafficking.”

Powell and others in the anti trafficking field say that one of the most misunderstood components of sex trafficking is the victims. According to Powell, that the most vulnerable people to traffickers are children. She explained that children who are “destitute and vulnerable because of their background, economically or because of prior abuse,or because of a desire for a better life,” are often targeted.

Powell explained that traffickers generally have three schemes. One is offering a better life to their target. The next is offering to provide a sense family, and the third is to play the role of a boyfriend or girlfriend. 

Yet another misunderstanding about human trafficking that Powell warns about is the origin of the victims. She says many people think that victims of human trafficking mostly come from other countries. However, Powell told Cooke, 90% of the girls FAIR Girls serves are U.S. citizens. The rest are foreign nationals and some are unaccompanied minors.

With such a massive human tragedy, one might wonder what can be done. Powell explains that education is a key component. This includes education of law enforcement, medical professionals, legal professionals, school teachers, social workers and the community. She says it is important for community members to understand the warning signs to identify when someone is being trafficked, and that it is also important that first responders are able to identify and help those who are most at risk. Often times, Powell explains, people who are being trafficked don’t realize that a crime is being committed against them. 

Powell says that although there has been tremendous progress in combatting human trafficking, there is still a long way to go. She says that ultimately, more legislation needs to be passed to stop the criminalization of victims, and that the community needs to be educated about the issue. Without education, warns Powell, there cannot be mobilization of resources- a key element in combatting trafficking.

For more on Andrea Powell and FAIR Girls, you can check out their website at http://www.fairgirls.org/.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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