Lecture discusses human trafficking

Human trafficking is a global problem, with 20–30 million slaves being sold around the world today. It is extremely prevalent in the United States alone, with 75 percent of U.S. trafficking victims being, in fact, U.S. citizens. The United States has been labeled as a “destination country” for international trafficking due to the fact that we are considered to be a wealthy country and have expendable money for the exploitation of human products. Countries with instabilities and weak infrastructure tend to be the “supply countries,” where large pools of vulnerable citizens in search of security and hope can be found.

This was just a portion of what director of programs for The Project to End Human Trafficking, Lynsie Clott, discussed in Tuesday’s presentation titled “Human Trafficking 101 and Local Cases.” Clott delivered a highly informative yet unsettling talk on understanding this concept of modern slavery. She provided the audience with a thorough definition of human trafficking — whilst also clarifying the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling — and the various ways trafficking conceals itself in society in the forms of sexual slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or forced servitude.

Clott provided hard-hitting examples that illustrated the differences between the numerous forms trafficking could take.
The first example was of a trafficking victim from China who had been given a forged passport and was tricked into coming to the United States with the hopes of “working in a nice hotel and making good money.” Upon arrival at JFK, her traffickers discretely transported her from the airport to a hotel room where she was forced into becoming a prostitute.

More extreme examples include such an incident involving a girl whose earliest memories were of her parents using her as the “star” of their child pornography film to advertise her for commercial sex. Clott connected this example to the fact that children are frequently targeted and kidnapped by traffickers, forced to beg for money on the streets, and cruelly maimed and deformed by their kidnappers to entice passersby into sympathetically yielding more money.

In the U.S., regional and inter-state movement of humans as products (often referred to as “running the circuit”) is much more prevalent than international trafficking. The United States’ consumerist culture and the need to meet the incessantly increasing demand for goods are what fuel labor trafficking. January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, and it is crucial to acknowledge the importance of spreading awareness and educating ourselves. The general population’s ignorance of issues regarding human rights violations and their prevalence in our country is what cultivates, if not exacerbates, this matter. There are countless resources available to educate us on the matter of human trafficking. The Not For Sale Campaign and the United States Department of Labor can both be referred to as credible sources of information on the issue. Slavery Footprint is also a very useful tool that serves as a type of survey that allows users to “input select data about their consumer spending habits, which then outputs a graphical ‘footprint’ of the user’s participation in modern-day slavery (as quantified by their consumption of items created by forced labor and child labor).”

To get involved at the institutional level, students can contact Jess Klein, the Coordinator of Gender Programs & Sexual Violence Prevention, who organized the event.