21st century slavery in our own backyards

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By Corina Cuevas / Staff Writer

(Image courtesy of stock.xchng.com)

By Corina Cuevas / Staff Writer

Believe it or not, slavery is prevalent in the 21st Century.

Many people in the United States and around the world are being taken against their will being subject to violence and long hours of work without pay.

According to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Web site, an estimated 12-27 million people are caught in a form of slavery.

These include prostitution, pornography, stripping, domestic servitude such as nannies and maids, agriculture, hard labor, child soldiers and many other poorly regulated industries.

Between 600,000 and 800,000 are trafficked internationally, with as many as 17,500 people trafficked into the United States.

Although many people are not aware of it, human trafficking exists.

The center states that there is no difference in nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, age, class, education-level, and other demographics.

In other words, it does not discriminate.

The fact that people are taken against their will for labor or services such as prostitution, pornography and/or stripping through the use of force or fraud is unbelievable and frightening.

Imagine walking down the street and suddenly being taken by a stranger who shows the least bit of respect for personal space.

Now imagine waking up in a dark room full of other strangers whose faces show confusion, fear and frustration.

At that moment the only thing one could think and imagine are terrible things.

The brain turns its fear switch on and many emotions race through the mind uncertain of what will happen next.

Scary isn’t it?

For most, the 21st century is a time when society has transformed its way of thinking and doing things.

The word slavery has been buried in the past and cultures have learned to embrace different beliefs, haven’t they?

Why then, do differences continue making some people subject to inhumane treatment and obvious violation of human rights? The answer is simple, power.

The dictionary defines power as the ability or right to control others, as authority and as influence.

It also states that it is a person or thing of great influence, force or authority.

Who executes this definition of power? For the most, part men.

Taking a look into the construction of men, a man’s body is visibly stronger than a woman’s or a child’s body.

As a result, most of those who are taken into captivity are women and children.

They make up most of the human trafficking industry because they can’t easily defend themselves becoming easy prey for their predators.

The Center argues that “nearly three out of every four victims are women (and) half modern-day slaves are children.”

Of these, many are illegal immigrants.

A good number of them come to the United States to fulfill the American Dream.

Although in most cases the American Dream literally becomes an American nightmare.

Instead of coming to fulfill dreams some illegal immigrants can only see those dreams as pipe dreams.

The illusion is over and reality hits them with a slap on the face reminding them that they have nothing but the broken pieces of the dream they once had.

On March 9 the Los Angeles Times gave its readers a glimpse of what human trafficking is all about.

The story “Smuggled, kidnapped and worse” by Anna Gorman describes how “(a smuggler had) sneaked a girl across the Mexican border nearly a month earlier and now was holding her for ransom somewhere near Los Angeles.”

After many hardships the woman in the story was lucky enough to find her daughter safe and sound.

But one cannot say the same for other victims who end up dead or sometimes abandoned.

This case is only one example of the hundreds of thousands that occur and are possibly occurring at this very moment.

Human trafficking is a serious problem that evidently remains in the shadows of America’s streets and the world’s borders.

It is kept a secret because it provides many profits to those in the business.

If people become aware and educated of what their human rights are, then it is easier for them to understand the importance and value of those rights.

Overall, human trafficking is a serious issue that needs to be eliminated.

The first and most important step to eliminate human trafficking is public awareness.

Public awareness is critical because human trafficking will remain unnoticed unless or until the public becomes actively engaged in identifying this type of slavery.

David Harold Fink once said “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do” but this issue calls for the need to take action.

After reading this one may ask: Why does this matter?

This matters because it is important to know that the human rights of many innocent people are violated through human trafficking.

Their dignity and self-value is trampled on portraying them as disposable objects that can be replaced with the simple snap of fingers.

It also matters because human trafficking is illegal and this information could help create or even strengthen laws that already exist to combat this type of trafficking.

The problem can only be solved by taking action in fighting this form of silent slavery that penetrates the United States and the world as a whole.

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