Human Trafficking Awareness

Informative Article

This trilemma will provide stories of two individuals who were victims of human trafficking and ways to help prevent trafficking from happening.

by Avani Pammidimukkala

Human trafficking has been one of the world’s biggest issues since the 1900s. Polaris defines it as “the business of stealing freedom for profit” through tricking, defrauding, or physically forcing “victims into selling sex." Trafficking also includes lying to, assaulting, threatening, or manipulating victims “into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions”.

This widely-known criminal activity originated from elements of the European slave trade from the 1200s to 1600s and the ‘white slavery’ practice from the 1700s. According to Sexualexploitatio, after the European slave trade became illegal in the 1700s, it gave rise to ‘white slavery’ where a white woman or girl was obtained against their will for sexual purposes “by the use of force, drugs, or by dishonesty”. In the 1900s, numerous countries recognized the problem and agreed to make ‘white slavery’ illegal by signing the International Convention for the Suppression of White Slave Trade. Unfortunately, however, this convention did not stop the criminal activity which still lurks in the shadows of our world today.

According to the Human Trafficking Hotline, there are around 40.3 million victims of human trafficking worldwide; according to Polaris, in 2019, there are around 22,326 victims and survivors of human trafficking in the United States of America alone which was “nearly a 20 percent increase” from 2018. And, in the USA, around 11,500 situations of human trafficking, 4,384 traffickers, and 1,912 suspicious businesses were also reported.

And, more awareness needs to be spread about this criminal activity that is bringing victims to millions of people around the world and ruining their lives. This trilemma will provide stories of two individuals who were victims of human trafficking and ways to help prevent trafficking from happening.

Karla Jacinto; Sources: CNN & Stopping Traffic

Karla Jacinto, a sex trafficking survivor, and activist shares her brutal story of being “sexually exploited from the age of five and prostituted from ages 12-16”:

Jacinto came from a “dysfunctional family” in Mexico City. She was sexually abused by a relative when she was only five years old and was neglected by her mother. At the age of 12, she fell into the trap of a trafficker who “lured her away using kind words and a fast car”.

The 22-year-older man who targeted Jacinto built up a sort of “trust” by luring her with candy, a personal introduction (he said he was a used car salesman), and saying that like Karla, he was an abuse victim. Jacinto exchanged phone numbers with the man who “asked her to go on a trip to nearby Puebla him” to which she agreed (Karla was an easy target to convince because Karla’s mother locked her out of the house a couple of times when she came home too late).

Karla left with the older man and lived with him for three months - time which Karla described as “beautiful”. The man, who was now her boyfriend, “loved on [her], bought [her] clothes, gave [her] attention, bought [her] shows, flowers, chocolates”. Even amidst what seemed like a dream to Karla, she started to notice that something was wrong when her boyfriend “would leave her by herself for a week” and “his cousins would show up with new girls every week”.

All her boyfriend told Jacinto was that they were “pimps” or people who are in charge of prostitutes and their clients. Jacinto was eventually forced to work in the sex business as a prostitute by her boyfriend’s coercion. She was forced to work from 10 a.m. in the morning to midnight in “brothels, roadside motels, streets known for prostitution and even homes” and “see at least 30 customers a day, seven days a week”. Jacinto described this experience as “hell” and mentioned that her clients would laugh at her when she was crying, so she had to close her eyes to forget about what was going on. When one of her clients gave her a hickey, her trafficker “boyfriend” called her a “whore”, beat her with a chain, punched her with his fists, kicked her, pulled her hair, spit on her, and burned her with iron.

At the age of 13, when Jacinto was working at a hotel which was a prostitution hot-spot, she was relieved when the police showed up. However, this hope was only short-lived when the police started to take “the girls to several rooms and started shooting video[s] of them in compromising positions” as blackmail. She was forced to work in the industry until she was “rescued in 2008 during an anti-trafficking operation in Mexico City” at the age of 16. Jacinto was reunited with her daughter whom she gave birth to at the age of 15, a year after she was rescued. Karla Jacinto has survived the four years of hell and now shares her story to the public and advocates against human trafficking.