It all starts with a walk through the park in a remote part of Mexico. A young girl named Paloma is taking a stroll to get away from all the stressors in her life. Her mother is very ill and they cannot afford to get her better medical treatment because they are very poor. They live in a shack in Mexico and Paloma has endured a lot of abuse and struggle in her short life there. She was born into poverty and has withstood a lifetime of struggle and this has made her develop a hardy personality. She believes she can face the challenges and come out stronger and better in order to be able to get her family out of indigence.
Paloma is approached by an older gentleman who presents himself as an outstanding, prominent businessman with a lot of businesses across Mexico and the United States. He promises her a great escape from the impoverished life she has led. He promises her an education and a job which will help her pay back the money she would owe him for getting her to America. The sixteen year old lady is smitten by the offer and accepts it without even thinking twice. All she can think about is getting her family a better life than what they have been living.
Her prince charming has emerged from nowhere and has come to save her. Little does Paloma know that when they arrive to the United States she is going to be a victim of human trafficking rather than the educated secretary that she thought she would be. She ends up being held captive for six months in a dinky apartment in a place that she cannot recognize and forced to submit to the man’s demands and needs. Paloma ends up cooking, cleaning and being raped by her captor. He threatens her family with harm and takes all her documents in order to prevent her from escaping.
Her prince charming has turned into a beast. During the turn of the century, human trafficking has become inhumane and a lot of people want to be free and live on their own means. Most of the captured slaves back in the day lived in their “masters” compounds and could not own anything or even have the right to vote. The creation of the 13th. Amendment which state that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
“, slavery has been formally abolished. The United States has created a law to prevent and protect the victims like the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. According to Dr. Potocky who is a specialist in refugee resettlement, human rights, international social work, and research methodology “TVPA focused on international trafficking, including reducing trafficking globally, providing assistance to immigrant victims of trafficking in the United States, and prosecuting traffickers” (Potocky 373).
Human trafficking has been a major social injustice and the United States must do more to combat it because the laws are not being enforced properly, it is continuously increasing, and this is due to weak penalties. The TVPA was established in 2000 and was supposed to protect victims of human trafficking and it has yet to curb this crime. Also, statistics show that the number of victims has continuously increased since the mid-1990s and the number of convictions and arrests of traffickers has declined. There are thousands of people in this country who are still going through torture and abuse with no place to turn for help.
Lack of enforcement. The TVPA has been amended four times in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2011 but its application and adaptation has been a joke. To support this claim, research shows that the government is worried about messing the relationship with other countries if they put stricter laws to combat trafficking. The government does not want to put it as number one in their political agenda. As the author Feingold asserts “United States sanctions will likely be applied only against countries already subject to sanctions, such as Burma or North Korea” (Feingold 30).
This shows that the United States government is scared to threaten countries like China or Saudi Arabia because they do not want to mess the political and economic relationship with them and are just willing to sanction the countries they do not get along with. The laws which are already in place like the TVPA are not strongly enforced making it easier for smugglers to get away with the crime. This is due to corrupt law officials, judges and prosecutors. Human trafficking is a high profit “13 billion dollar” organized crime industry according to a theological ethics professor, Tran.
A lot of these criminals are rendering bribes to the officials and in return, they are getting their cases tossed out. So, instead of the police protecting and serving the victims as they are sworn in to do, they are associating with the traffickers and making money out of this crime. This kind of greed pushes way the victims and they get scared of approaching law enforcers to report this type of crime. The author Tran is surely right about the bribery because a lot of sources like Tran, Hodge and Kara have shown that a lot of trafficking crimes are being fuelled by corrupt people in politics and law enforcers.
The victims are also scared for their lives because of constant threats and intimidation. Many victims believe that the police are corrupt individuals and are as scared of them as much as they are scared of their captors According to Hodge, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University and who has also written widely on social justice, cultural diversity, and social inclusion, “Another way to help protect women and children is to advocate for stricter penalties for traffickers and consistent enforcement of existing laws” (Hodge 15).
He asserts that in order to stop the act of human trafficking in the United States, the laws put forth need to be taken seriously and strongly enforced. Until this is done, the victims are going to keep on suffering in the hands of their captors without much or any help. To counter this argument, some research claims that the united states has thoroughly enforced the laws set forth to combat human trafficking. When it comes to human trafficking, the United States needs to amend stricter laws to combat it. This is because human trafficking has been on a steady rise since the 1990s until now.
Although this is true that organized crimes are involved in human trafficking, it is nevertheless also true that it mostly involves simple, next door, disorganized criminals. According to Feingold who is a director of the Ophidian Research Institute and international coordinator for HIV/AIDS “there is no standard profile on traffickers. They range from truck drivers and village “aunties” to labor brokers and police officers. ” (Feingold 28). The author’s theory is useful because it sheds light on the fact that anyone can be a trafficker without being involved in a big gang.
There are many people like the man who charmed Paloma who are regular people with smooth antics to lure people. Paloma was not kidnapped; she agreed to leave with the man voluntarily in hopes of bettering herself. Family members from destitute families also sell their children and spouses in order to get dowry to survive on. Feingold concedes that organized crime bosses like the late Pablo Escobar are not easy to find. Even if they are involved in human trafficking, they are most likely to be purchasers than transporters. There are a lot of factors that provide a breeding ground for traffickers by taking advantage of the desperate people.
According to Kara who is an author, activist and one of the world’s foremost experts on modern day slavery and human trafficking, economic instability, lawlessness, corruption, war and poverty keep on promoting human trafficking. The people are prone to be victims because they are willing to listen to the criminals in hopes of having a better life but at the end they end up falling victims of modern slavery. On the other hand, the author Hughes who is a leading international researcher on human trafficking maintains that “prosecution declined in the 1990s even as exploitation of women and children on the internet has increased” (Hughes 121).
This goes to show that Kara and Hughes both agree that human trafficking has been on the increase in the last decade and a half. To further support this claim, research on human trafficking has been done by some researchers but my best evidence comes from The Journal of International Migration. Authors Gozdziak and Collett are well known researchers who have reviewed existing literature on this topic and come up with startling facts about it. The article claims that “there are a number of slippery statistics going on and they are all from the U. S State Department” (Gozdziak et al 108).
For years the government has been producing quoted estimates of the number of trafficked victims but they are not revealing the methods used to get the data. The numbers have been revised three times between the years of 1999 to 2003 and there is a significant difference in numbers. The surprising fact is that a lot of agencies both local and international are using this statistics instead of conducting their own independent research. Every time the Department of State gets questioned about the differences in numbers, they just say that it is improved methodology which is creating the differences without giving
the exact way they come up with it. In the review done by Gozdiak and Collett “the number of trafficking victims entering the United States has been revised at least three times: down from 45,000 to 50,000, a figure reached by the….. (CIA) in 1999, to 18,000 to 20,000 victims reported in 2003, and even further down to 14,500 to 17,500” (Gozdziak et al 108). This goes to show that the government itself is not sure about its faulty statistics and research is also not backing them.
In support of this claim, more research needs to be conducted to find out where the government gets their information. This is because most of the sources that are being used in this paper do agree that the figures 14,500 to 17,500 victims in the United States are basically unaccounted for. The author Potocky agrees that the methodology used by the State Department has not been detailed and that the estimates simply disappear from the department’s annual report. None of the other sources have come forward and supported Gozdziak, Collett and Potocky’s claim that the data is incorrect and messy.
Also the United States tends to concentrate more in protecting their borders than stopping prostitution and trafficking. They are more concerned with illegal immigrants getting their way into the country and amending stricter U. S immigration policies. While this is a good way to protect the country, the United States is not taking into consideration the fact that this is encouraging human trafficking. According to Tran “Unfortunately, this focus on security works to the benefit of organized traffickers” (Tran 3).
By focusing on homeland security, the government overlooks the deeper issue of trafficking because the illegal immigrants end up putting themselves in the hands of smugglers and end up being snuck into the country and ending up as victims of trafficking. Those unfamiliar with human trafficking may be interested to know that it basically boils down to the counterargument of whether the United States has enough resources to combat human resources. The truth is that the United States claims that it does not have enough financial resources to combat this type of crime.
According to the Department of State website “Through targeted foreign assistance, the TIP Office funds programs that address human trafficking, the act of obtaining or maintaining another person in compelled service. ” (Baca). The state has been looking for grants from other nations to help combat trafficking. When the grants are allocated, they hold a grant competition and different organizations compete for the money with the exception of for profit organizations. The organizations have asked for a total of 95 million dollars in funds but the state budget is only 750,000 dollars.
With this kind of figures, how do we expect the United States to combat human trafficking? Another problem is the fact that the United States only convicts a small percentage of traffickers compared to the huge amount of victims here. Potocky agrees when she writes that “When U. S attorneys decide to prosecute a…. case, the conviction rate is very high: 96%. However, U. S attorneys decline to prosecute app…60% of…cases” (Potocky 375). She also asserts that “between 2001 and 2007, there were 449 federal prosecutions and 342 of them were human trafficking convictions.
” With this trend going on, the only conclusion is that there is a big problem with prosecution of the traffickers. Feingold supports Potocky’s claim by stating that from the year 2001 to the year 2003, “110 traffickers were prosecuted but only 77 pled guilty or were convicted. ” The reason that the trafficking convictions are so scarce also lies with the mindsets of the victims. According to Hodge, “the victims are scared to testify against the attackers because most of the traffickers get out of jail soon after their arrest.
” Author Davis who has been involved in the fight to end modern day slavery since 2003 when he became the Goodwill Ambassador for the organization Face to Face Bulgaria claims that traffickers are also very hard to track since they move their victims from one place to another.. Paloma on the other hand is a very lucky girl because she managed to escape her captor and is now in witness protection and lives here in America, fighting to rescue victims of human trafficking. Not everyone has the chance to escape alive because if they are caught, death is the only choice they have.
The United States needs to come up with other solutions to combat this heinous crime and some people have suggested legalizing prostitution. Some countries like Netherlands have legalized adult prostitution and the results have been a significant increase in child prostitution according to Hodge. The State Department agrees when they write that, “Where prostitution is legalized or tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery. ” (Feingold 28).
So this is not a solution to the problem but just adding fuel to the fire. Sweden has the “Swedish Model’ which is a law that was put forth to combat trafficking. The law criminalizes the customers who buy sex instead of the prostitutes while in Thailand, they opt to extend labor and social security laws to the sex workers. Both countries have a large group that opposes and assert that these kind of laws will increase trafficking and criminals. The United States does criminalize people who sleep with prostitutes and also arrest any party involved in the act including the prostitutes themselves.
Make human trafficking zero tolerance to where anyone caught trafficking or helping someone who is a trafficker is put away for good or handed hard labor. Educate the social workers and law enforcement officials on how to better detect victims of human trafficking. This is because there are a lot of victims who are being arrested and deported back to their prospective countries because they are mistaken for just illegal immigrants. These victims are not given a chance to explain themselves because this is a very judgmental country and just your accent can make anyone suspicious.
How many times have people been discriminated against because they looked different and talked different? We all live in a world which is unjust and unequal. People are just marred by greed and end up forgetting the morals they were taught when young. The government is too busy with bad politics and covering their tracks instead of protecting its people, the laws of our country are becoming an abomination because of lack of enforcement. Young innocent girls like Paloma, people’s mothers, husbands, and children are being tortured and abused all in the name of making money.
It is up to our country to establish better laws and enforce them strongly in order to end human trafficking. The government needs to make the laws so tough to the point where no one would want to break them. Instead of giving traffickers a year or five in prison, give them a lifetime sentence because they are denying other humans a right to freedom. Let everyone put themselves in Paloma’s shoes and think of what she went through. It is not only the government which should take steps to stop this atrocity but for all the citizens of this nation.
Educate each other about the morals of society by holding informational meetings and inviting victims and task force members to speak at schools and other functions. Look out for the people who work around you and learn to identify a victim from how they behave. The victims can be the workers in the strip clubs you frequent, or a maid in a friend’s house or a dish washer in your favorite diner. Also, look out for those false front agencies, massage parlors and brothels which are set up to lure victims.
With the community helping to combat human trafficking, the government should have the sense to amend stricter laws to end trafficking and put forth enough money to help the agencies which are working hard to end it. Let the modern day slavery come to an end before you fall victim of it yourself, it is a small world and what goes around, simply comes back around. You might escape it but what about your children. No one wants slavery to be legal again, so why should human trafficking be condoned?