Last week, Chinese authorities rescued 89 infants and arrested 369 people associated with two human trafficking rings. The infants were abducted from Vietnam, some drugged, and sold in China. The traditional preference for male children combined with the “one child” policy in China increases the human trafficking cases that occur, usually involving female adults and children. However, China is only one of the many countries where human trafficking is a major issue. 161 countries throughout the world are said to be affected by human trafficking (UNGIFT).
Human trafficking is considered to be one of the largest and fastest growing criminal industries in the world (Polaris Project). The numbers are difficult to determine exactly due to issues such as victim intimidation to step forward and lack of law enforcement standards on the issue. According to the US Department of State’s 2010 Report on Human Trafficking, between 14,500 and 17,500 men, women, and children are trafficked into the US every year. Most of these victims are forced into the sex trade, domestic servitude, or agricultural labor (Leach). To distinguish human trafficking from other crimes, there must be a use of force, fraud or coercion. Women and children are most at-risk for human trafficking.
Origin & Destination Countries
Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It is illegal to be involved in such activities and Indiana Law states persecution of those knowingly involved in the trade, harbor, or promotion in any process of human trafficking can face felony charges. In order to provide protection, prosecution, and prevention, the Human Rights Watch Advocacy Director suggests that the state “should above all else, return control to the victims of human trafficking” as the victim’s lack of control is one of the main challenges to protection, persecution and prevention. Further, authorities should be trained on victim protection procedures as well as how to identify services that victims may need in order to rebuild their lives.
The problem of human trafficking is not a new one, but the topic should strike a chord locally. There have been positive correlations between the demands for commercial sex services and large events, such as the Super Bowl. With Indianapolis hosting Super Bowl XLVI this winter, I hope Indiana residents and visitors are mindful of their surroundings and spread awareness about human trafficking. Contact local authorities if you suspect foul play: dial 911 for emergencies, contact local police departments, IN Trafficked Persons Assistance Program 1-800-928-6403 or National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1-888-3737-888. For more information, visit polarisproject.org.
LaFraniere, Sharon. “China: Officials Say They Have Saved 81 Babies from Child Traffickers”, The New York Times (July 28, 2011).
Leach, Susan Llewelyn. “Slavey is not dead, just unrecognizable,” The Christian Science Monitor (September 1, 2004).
Patten, Wendy. Statement give to US Senate about Human Rights Watch. “US: Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking & Slavery,” Human Right Watch News. http://www.hrw.org/news/2004/07/06/us-efforts-combat-human-trafficking-and-slavery .
UN GIFT: Human Trafficking, The Facts. United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns (Vienna, 2006).