A Look at Human Trafficking
What is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking, modern day slavery, prostitution, sex trafficking and sex work are words that are used synonymously but they don’t mean the same thing. While both human trafficking and sex trafficking are types of modern day slavery, prostitution and sex work are not. When defining slavery, the Abolition Project states that slavery is a condition in which individuals are owned by others, who control where they live and at what they work without pay (The Abolition Project, 2009). It is estimated that about 20.9 million people around the world are victims to human trafficking (Polaris Project, 2010).
Who is in Danger of Becoming Trafficked?
Children, women, folks who live in poverty, individuals who experience societal and cultural marginalization, persons with poor education and people who live in areas that have political instability and correspondingly have war and conflict, are susceptible to being targets of human trafficking (United Nations Office On Drugs And Crime).
Difference Between Prostitution & Sex Trafficking
It is difficult to distinguish between both prostitution and human trafficking due to overlapping similarities. In both circumstances, individuals are exploited, getting paid for sex, experience violent acts and some use alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms to perform their obligations (Finn, Muftić, & Marsh, 2015). There is a struggle between being labeled as a victim as opposed to an offender that is seen constantly in cases of people being arrested for prostitution (Finn et al., 2015). Because some women that are trafficked are also involved with supplementary offenses such as drugs, theft and robbery, they are punished for these crimes despite being threatened or forced to do so (Winterdyk, Perrin, & Reichel, 2012).
Why Does this Issue Matter?
Atlanta is known to be one of the top sex trafficking destinations in the United States (Todres & Baumrind, 2012). With the university’s campus being in the heart of the city, it’s important to make students, faculty and staff aware of the issue so that they can improve their safety as well as the safety of others. Student Victim Assistance offers confidential support to all Georgia State University students. Students, faculty and staff may call the 24-hour crisis line available at 404-413-1965. Resources are also available through the Counseling and Testing Center to help deal with the emotional stress from experiencing trauma and abuse.
What Can We Do to Advocate?
Although human trafficking is a human rights and global issue, it is imperative that it is recognized by our communities on a local, state, and federal level. Locally, law enforcement has been required to seize all assets received through human trafficking (Polaris Project, 2010). In Georgia, laws such as House Bill 200 forces the proper training of police officers to handle victims of human trafficking with care and respect. They are also expected to provide the necessary resources that include therapeutic services and social service agencies (Street Grace). In addition, House Bill 141 enables for businesses (urgent care, emergency rooms, bus stations, truck stops, etc.) to be cognizant to persons who are being trafficked and to report such occurrence. They are also required to post information on attaining assistance (House Bill 141). On a federal level, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013 has been approved to prohibit U.S citizens from buying products made by persons who are affected by human trafficking. It also enforces swift emergency response to disaster areas vulnerable to human trafficking (Polaris Project, 2010). Student Victim Assistance also offers outreach and programming to further educate the campus and community about the issue of sex and/or human trafficking. Contact Jennifer Bodnar, Senior Coordinator of Student Victim Assistance for more information.
What are Others Doing to Advocate?
Students and professors at Mercer University created the Sex Trafficking Opposition Project (STOP), which works to eliminate human trafficking through discussion and awareness (Forbes, 2012). Because many massage parlors in Georgia is used for human trafficking, Macon, Georgia has passed SB 364. This is a bill that requires massage parlors to provide adequate licensure (Forbes, 2012). Groups such as the Polaris Project advocates for revisions on federal and state laws in regards to human trafficking. They also help to provide resources for victims on their hotline, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (Polaris Project, 2010). In Atlanta, an anti-trafficking ministry named Out of Darkness, strives to liberate and reestablish victims of sex trafficking through the glory of God (Out Of Darkness). They pursue areas that are populated with human trafficking victims and minister to victims in hopes of persuading them to leave the streets, provide safe houses for victims, assist victims with medical care, offer resources and services and contact with victims who are falsely incarcerated on prostitution or drug related charges (Out of Darkness).
*Adapted from a published paper by Kaday Berete, Graduate Assistant, Psychological & Health Services, Georgia State University