Human trafficking Part 1

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By Patricia A. Woodbury

Twenty million people are enslaved throughout the world with 2.5 million located here in the United States. Slavery was supposed to end with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 and the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. However statistics show that slavery is still alive and flourishing through the entire world.

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery. It involves obtaining or maintaining labor or services from another by the use of force, fraud or coercion in violation of the individual’s human rights. Some would say that Human Trafficking is only sex trafficking but the truth is, according to the National Health and Human Services Hotline, that of the 20 million victims globally 60% are forced labor, 10% state-imposed forced labor and 22% are sexually exploited.

Sex trafficking has been found in a variety of businesses such as, residential brothels, escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs and street prostitution. Labor trafficking has been found in diverse labor settings such as, domestic work, small businesses, large farms and factories.

Some think that human trafficking victims will self-identify. Unfortunately of the 50% who did contact a health professional, none were identified as a victim. These victims do not often disclose their trafficking situation in a clinical setting. If they are accompanied by another person, they may not be allowed to speak for themselves. Gaining the trust of a victim, in a safe non-judgmental environment is important to assist the patient.

Some think that human trafficking only happens to children or women. In 2012 the national hotline reported that 62% of the cases reported were adults and 18% were men.

Some believe that human trafficking is not in our community. In all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories, there are over 30,000 cases of potential human trafficking reported. Florida is ranked in the top three of the states with New York and California for trafficking victims.

It is time to create more public awareness of this societal problem. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Ocala Branch, plans to help in this endeavor and hold a public forum on Human Trafficking Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m. at the Marion County Public Library, 2720 E. Silver Spring Blvd., Ocala.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness month so this forum fits in appropriately. Speakers will be there from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Children and Families with sponsors from various businesses in our community. For more information, call 352-236-3926.