Human Trafficking Awareness
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.
Dan’s Story; Source: R.AGE
Male victims of human trafficking are often more overlooked than female victims. Here, Dan tells his story about experiencing the beginnings of what would be considered trafficking:
16-year-old Dan always waited at the bus stop near his school and took the bus home. However, one day, he missed the bus and had to go home urgently. While he was waiting at the bus stop thinking what to do next, he met a 30-year-old man who befriended him and offered him a ride on his bike. The only reason Dan accepted the offer was because he felt a sense of familiarity with the man and knew that it was the fastest way to get home.
During the ride home, Dan mentioned that he felt extremely uncomfortable. The older man constantly asked him inappropriate questions like if he has ever watched pornography and if he’s interested in touching him on the private parts. Luckily, Dan managed to get away before the situation heightened, however, the incident went unreported like many other male victims’.
Dan says, “Most men would try to keep it to themselves. As a man, everyone would think that you are stronger and that you can fight them (sexual predators) off. As Asians, we tend to not fight back. So we just give in.”
When Dan first came to the city two years after the molesting incident, he experienced a similar case. This time, however, it was by his own friend when he was staying over at his friend’s house.
When he was sleeping one night, Dan recounts feeling something fondling his private parts, immediately waking him up. He noticed that his friend was suspicious. When he shoulder “What are you doing!” his friend froze and held his hands up. Dan said that his friend looked extremely guilty.
And, luckily, Dan was taught what the difference between a good and bad touch were through learning sex education at an early age. He was able to finally share his story a few years ago.
Dan hopes that all male victims of this sort of sexual crime come out with their stories so they can stop this from happening in the future.
How Can We Prevent Trafficking From Happening?
People traffick humans to obtain money - a lot of it. According to the Blue Campaign, human traffickers often aim for people who are in the “lower-class” as it would be easier for them to lie to the person and manipulate them to do their bidding. University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work notes that common indicators to tell if a person is being trafficked is if he or she shows poor mental or physical health and behavior, a lack of control, and confusion. Poor work and living conditions can also be a huge red flag (according to Polaris, this is when the person is not leaving his or her workplace or home at his or her own will, is in prostitution acts as a minor, is getting paid little or nothing at all, is working long hours, is owing a large debt, or is experiencing physical and verbal abuse). Recognizing these signs can help you know if someone is being trafficked.
Some steps that a person can take to help stop this criminal activity is to get educated, pay attention, raise awareness, and take action, according to the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. People can familiarize themselves with the basic “Action-Means-Purpose Model” or “AMP Model” which shows us how we can guess if a person is being trafficked if the elements from the model are shown.
Paying attention to your surroundings, knowing the indicators of human trafficking, and taking action to report a suspicious situation to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-788 can help stop a person from getting trafficked. Lastly, supporting and raising awareness by joining organizations which help human trafficking victims like the Blue Campaign can help towards stopping human trafficking!