Human Trafficking: The Curse of Modern Civilization?

The most brazen and notorious crime of modern civilization is human trafficking. It is the brutal curse of human society. It is the loud roar of a speechless obloquy. It is a gross infringement of human rights and dignity, yet human trafficking continues to be applauded with a sacred guilt among aristocrats and capitalist in the United States who depend on modern slavery to enrich their coffers and domain.

But human trafficking must not lie in silence.

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Fueled by a vicious insistence for cheap labor and commercial sex globally, human trafficking is continuing to thrive into a multi-billion dollar industry where perpetrators profit from the control and exploitation of others.

According to the International Labor Organization estimates, there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. 5.5 million of those are children. 14.2 million of those are victims of labor exploitation.

In response to critics and opponents alike that point to Thai prostitution and the importation of virgin female bodies from Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia as the principle jurisdictions for sex and labor trafficking in the world, new data confirms that the United States is not exempt from sex and labor trafficking structures.

In fact, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, (UNODC) validates that the highest destination countries for human trafficking are Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States.

Moreover, if recently released narratives on human trafficking in the United States are correct, then “human trafficking can be found in the Super Bowl, it can also be found in motorcycle rallies in South Dakota, in the fields of Florida, in gangs in California, and in brothels in Washington, D.C.”

Most obvious is the fact that human trafficking is leading to a growing illegal market and rising criminality in the United States. Evidence indicate that the proceeds of human trafficking are not only used to finance organized and sophisticated criminal activities, but according to many indications, add to the financing of seditious activities and terrorist groups hostile to United States interest.

Statistics further confirm that “human trafficking affects every country around the world, regardless of socio-economic status, history, or political inclinations. Victims of human trafficking have diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, varied levels of education, and may be documented or undocumented as well.”

More to the point, it is also the patterns of conspicuous consumption in the western world that roots human trafficking in the world at large, for it is trade and urbanization that characterize development within any capitalist framework. This means that if economic development is a capacity for self sustaining growth, then a profit incentive for labor traffickers to maximize revenue with minimal production costs is created when American consumers buy goods and services from industries that rely on forced labor. The increasing support given to hierarchical corporate markets in South East Asia by the United States also heightens the demand for commercial sex, among ranking businessmen, thus making it profitable for traffickers to sexually exploit children and adults.

Thus, it must be understood that sex and labor trafficking is a form of modern slavery that not only exist in South East Asia and other countries globally but also exists throughout the United States as well.
Notwithstanding the fact that poverty is a major drive of the human trafficking industry and that trafficking has now become a sure form of economics when victims are sold by their own families; attention must also be diverted to the political, economic, social and cultural dynamics of human trafficking and the relationship they play with the other in the United States.

When viewed through a socio –economic framework, the scourge of illegal immigration registers labor trafficking in domestic work, small businesses, large farms, and factories in the United States, thereby enhancing the doctrine that “human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry that supports the conception of supply and demand.” The International Labor Organization (ILO) further estimates that 14.2 million people are trapped in forced labor in industries including agriculture, construction, domestic work and manufacturing.

On this note, the clandestine nature of human trafficking, fallacies about its definition and the demand for cheap labor, and high profits must be addressed if the United Sates must take the wheel as the leader in human rights globally.

In this regards, the compounded sociological theory that “trafficking in human beings is a complex problem rooted in poverty” stands true, but at the same time the sleeping demons of marginalization and the subordination of women, and other minority groups and the insufficient protection of human rights of children are also awakened in the great narrative on human trafficking in the United States.

On that basis, it is correct to say that human trafficking in the United States is a consequence of gender inequality and lack of respect for children, women and minority rights.

In essence, human trafficking subverts the democratic theme, enhances social injustice while at the same time encourages gender inequality. Unless coercion and subordination of women and children and the well celebrated theme of patriarchy in family and social structures are legitimized or challenged, then human trafficking will continue to augment the perception that people and sexuality can be bought and sold in the United States.

It is further justified that we live in an industrialized society but it is the effects of this very industrialization that encourages human trafficking, thus weakening family and neighborly structures, proving that industrialism is neither a basis for controlling social behavior nor a method for assessing human progress.

If “adequate legislation, a properly functioning administrative machinery and an effective judiciary are the most obvious tools for fighting human trafficking,” then the United States has the pertinent legislation and overt policies to control human trafficking. While the efforts of many government agencies and NGO’s must be commended, thus far, public authorities provide little or no protection for women, minority groups and children against violence and abuse, choosing rather to concentrate on rigorous immigration laws that forces people to route to illegal means, and registering them as victims of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is now the curse of modern civilization and encompasses the bosom of moral reasoning in the name of profit in the United States. The efficacy of current reforms and the actions of activist and television personalities who are taking the stand on human trafficking remains highly debatable, but until now, “I want to be human when I grow up.”

By: Rebecca Theodore

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 Rebecca Theodore - new picRebecca Theodore is an Op-ed columnist based in Washington, D.C. She writes on national security and political issues. She can be contacted at:



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