With an estimated 30 million people trapped in the modern day slavery known as human trafficking, it begs the question-how do victims end up there? What circumstances lead an individual into a life of slavery, and is it possible that obliterating hunger could also eliminate human trafficking from our world?
So, what exactly is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is the sale and transport of human beings who are forced to work against their will (or, involuntary servitude). Human trafficking is slavery. Millions of adults and children are enslaved and forced to work in a variety of ways—even today—including:
- Forced labor
- Sex trafficking
- Bonded labor – where a worker’s debt is exploited.
- Forced domestic servitude
- Child soldiers
Who’s at risk?
Traffickers prey upon those who live below the poverty line because people living under the poverty line typically have what we call “food insecurities” that leave them vulnerable, meaning that there’s no safety net. If their crops fail that year, there will be no food to eat. Period. Maybe they don’t own their own land, so while they’re producing enough food to eat, they have to sell most of it to pay their rent for the land—leaving very little for their family to actually eat. Bottom line: people living under the poverty line are much more susceptible to hunger and desperation that causes families to make decisions they might never consider under other circumstances.
Think about it…
When you’re hungry—and not just I-forgot-to-eat-breakfast-hungry, but really truly I-haven’t-eaten-in-2-days-and-I-don’t-know-where-my-next-meal-is-coming-from-hungry—nothing else matters. Hunger controls you. Hunger forces you to make desperate decisions. A helpless mother who can’t feed her children, like most parents, would do just about anything to ensure that her children have food. Those feelings of desperation are what make the poor and hungry especially vulnerable to the devious ploys of traffickers.
For example, when a trafficker offers a child the hope of a good job—despite the risk of it being far away—many parents jump at the opportunity to give their son or daughter work, choosing instead the hope of provision for their child. When your choices are limited to the risk of danger and risk of starvation, it’s not an easy choice to make.
Hunger and poverty drive people to do things they would not normally do. It leads them to make uninformed decisions – choices that for some parents, lead their children to being sold into slavery. Battling human trafficking means not only going toe to toe with the perpetrators, but also attacking the root causes like hunger that often lead people into it.
Engage Your Students
Trafficking, like hunger, is significantly more complicated the closer you look at it! It’s impacted by so many factors and yet, there are still simple things that we can do that make a huge impact.
- Talk about it. We know you want to equip your students to be world changers and we want that too!! How does justice become less of a buzz word and more of a way we live? It all starts from a good foundation: an ability to talk about complexity, to talk about the constraints that people different than us are under, and to have compassion for them. Without that it’s really hard to move into action that’s more than just a nice idea, but truly changes the world. Are there resources you’d love to have from us to help you in those conversations? Let us know! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Sign up for 30 Hour Famine. The funds that you raise through 30HF go directly to making sure that families have enough to eat and giving them the resources to produce their own food—keeping them from having to make desperate decisions that would leave them vulnerable to traffickers. There’s plenty of time to talk, and we’ll acknowledge that talking is important, but alone it won’t bring this crisis to an end. Hunger impacts every area of life—if we eliminate hunger, we can start to eliminate things like trafficking that are a result of hunger. Talk about a two-fer…
This spring, we’re going to be standing on our soapboxes and beating our drums LOUDLY about hunger and why it matters that we end it (and we CAN end it! How cool is that??). We hope you join us.
For young girls in Thailand, the pressure to provide for the family forces many into the sex industry. In fact, Bangkok, Thailand is known as the prostitution capital of the world and nearly half of all tourists visiting the country are “sex tourists” – individuals looking to engage in sex trafficking. Living in a rural area, with little education and few job opportunities, the sad reality is that many girls and young women see prostitution as their only practical option and look to this form of tourism as the answer.
I recently saw a documentary about prostitution called Nefarious. In the film, the crew interviews prostitutes in Bangkok, finding selflessness and pain behind their flirty façade. With siblings who are hungry and a mother who’s sick; prostitution was the only way to help those they love. These girls have an obligation to care for their family and they aren’t taking their own feelings into consideration.
Today, effect change. Follow the links below to read more, educate yourself, and learn how you can change the course of history by attacking hunger, poverty, and human trafficking.
World Vision ACT:S: Read more stories of human trafficking around the world.
Not For Sale: Find tools, resources, and creative ways to engage your community in ending slavery.
World Vision: Learn how you can take action.
The CNN Freedom Project: A national movement to end slavery.
– See more at: http://www.30hourfamine.org/2012/01/human-trafficking-awareness-day-how-hunger-plays-a-role/#sthash.v7zu8zBu.dpuf