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Human trafficking is the worst business out there

Flickr: Imagens Evangélicas

When human trafficking comes to mind, the typical associations are to think of sex trafficking or child soldiers. Those are huge offenses of the crime, but there are so many other ways that people become enslaved.

If you’re a fan of the movie Taken, you might be extra careful when you’re traveling to any European country. That’s a smart move if you're a girl since traffickers do look at young female tourists as easy targets. But underneath that stereotype there are so many other ways that young girls get forced into the commercial sex industry.

More often than not, girls and women leave their homes with promises of high-paying jobs. Jobs that have nothing to do with prostitution, I might add. They are lured into relationships on false premises and eventually coerced into commercial sex against their will.

This is a common tactic amongst traffickers all over the world, outside of the sex business too. A lot of those people that are risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe were promised a safe journey, with a comfortable ride on a large boat. Instead, they are forced onto overcrowded, rickety boats, given little food or water, and are crossing the Sea in treacherous conditions.

Another story came out recently about women being trafficked within their home continent. There has been a rise in Eastern European women being brought over to Western Europe. They do so willingly but only because they are in desperate situations and need financial security.

An 18-year-old woman from Slovakia named Balogovia tells her story to the Associated Press. She was pregnant when she traveled to England to marry a man that had no interest in her. The 23-year-old Pakistani man was only looking to gain the benefits of her identity card so he could travel and work freely around Europe.

She did it because she had no money and the deal came with a promise of a clean place to live in Britain and possibly some money. But she was quickly moved with her new “husband” and his brother to a place in Scotland where she was kept in an apartment and not allowed to go out. They took her identification documents away from her and prevented her from leaving home without her “husband”.

These sham marriages are becoming more popular as England’s immigration laws tighten. The women leave their desperate situations, not knowing exactly what they’re getting themselves into. According to European authorities, they are held captive and sometimes abused by the “husband” and friends, used for sex and drug trafficking, or even forced to marry again.

I took a class on human rights in college and one of the books that was assigned to us was called The Slave Next Door. It was about modern day slavery and human trafficking. What I learned from this book is that trafficking is not one standard method of practice. It is a situation that many people enter into voluntarily because of false promises and/or desperate situations.

According to the book, trafficking is thought to be the third most profitable criminal enterprise behind guns and drugs. What’s even more shocking is that the author tells us that there are more than twice as many people around the world today living in slavery than were taken from Africa during the Atlantic slave trade.

It is tragic how many people are living in slavery around the world right now. The fact that anyone would want to lie to someone in a desperate situation to lure them into his or her business to make money is sickening.

Trafficking is a global problem and it might be closer to your backyard than you think. In fact, 25% of trafficking occurs in the country that the person is from.

There’s a lot that needs to be done to stop human trafficking and slavery. But one thing you can do is support organizations that are working to bring an end to it, like Not for Sale