The Face of Modern-Day Slavery



What is human trafficking?

Whether for sexual exploitation, forced labor, or other forms of submissive servitude, trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, or of deception.

In the simplest terms, human trafficking is modern-day slavery. When most people hear the term ‘human trafficking’, they think of young girls being sold as sex slaves. They think of foreign countries and brothels and girls handcuffed to their beds. What we often fail to realize is that trafficking is so much more than these stereotypes. In today’s day and age, people of any age, race, or gender can fall victim to trafficking, sex slavery or otherwise.

What does human trafficking look like?

According to, “Behind every human trafficking statistic is a person who is someone’s friend, family member, or companion. Slavery steals lives. Human trafficking looks like someone’s mother, brother, sister, father, aunt or uncle.”

  • 12-14: The average age for girls trafficked into prostitution in the United States
  • 11-13: The average age for boys trafficked into prostitution in the United States
  • 4 million: Number of slaves in 1860
  • 30 million: Number of slaves today
  • 12 billion: Annual revenue from child trafficking alone

There are two main types of trafficking, sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking is generally the first thing that comes to peoples’ minds when they hear the term “human trafficking”. Labor trafficking is often overlooked or even unheard of in today’s society, but that doesn’t make it the lesser of two evils. Labor trafficking is the use of coercion (violence, lies, threats, debt bondage, etc.) to force people to work against their will. Labor traffickers often make false promises to lure people into working for them and then exert physical and psychological control to keep them from leaving. According to the Polaris Project (an anti-trafficking organization based in Washington, D.C.) website, “Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers. Immigration status, recruitment debt, isolation, poverty, and a lack of strong labor protections are just some of the vulnerabilities that can lead to labor trafficking…In the United States, common types of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farmworkers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions. Labor trafficking has also been reported in door-to-door sales crews, restaurants, construction work, carnivals, and even health and beauty services.”

Read more here:


Where does human trafficking happen?

These are two local and fairly recent stories of human trafficking right here in our community. Trafficking happens anywhere there are people. Transforming Hope Ministries states on their website ( that “North Carolina ranks in the top 10 on the FBI’s list of states most likely to have trafficking occur because of the highways, the large military bases, the coastal tourism, and the demand for cheap sex and cheap labor.”

Human trafficking is an evil that knows no race, age, gender, or limitation. It is our duty as citizens of the human race to educate ourselves and do everything in our power to stop this injustice.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Writing for Freedom,

Darien Smith


Why I Care

Hey there freedom fighters, I’m Darien Smith, an intern at ENC Stop Human Trafficking Now. I’m a senior English major hoping to go to law school to study nonprofit and civil rights law. I’m also an avid runner, a sorority sister, a crazy dog mom, and a social justice advocate. I love red wine, long walks on the beach, and speaking up for oppressed people without a voice. I’ll be blogging this semester in hopes of educating and inspiring readers to take action against the horrible crime of human trafficking.

I first learned what human trafficking was in 2011, as a senior in high school. My church founded an organization called Coins for Children as an attempt to get the average person educated and involved in the fight against human trafficking. This was a result of the Shaniya Davis tragedy, which took place in my hometown. What started out as a local coin collecting campaign turned into a 5k walk and national fundraiser, which I participated in with my high school’s Key Club volunteer organization.

The best part of this campaign was that each week at church, we would hear a narrative of a person who had been rescued from the trafficking trade. One story in particular struck me, as the speaker was a young woman. Although her silhouette had been altered to protect her identity, I recognized her voice as a close friend of mine from school. That’s when it really hit me. Human trafficking isn’t just a distant international issue, it happens here at home. I’d gone to school with this girl for years and never knew the horrors she’d survived.

From that day on, I was hooked. I knew I couldn’t sit idly by and let another human suffer without a fight. Although my advocacy pursuits have changed over time, I am glad to be returning to the issue that first sparked my interest in social justice with such a passionate organization. Right now, our society is pretty lukewarm about human trafficking; most people are unaware of what trafficking is, or they consider it a distant issue, not something that happens in our community to our citizens. As much as I wish I could snap my fingers and free all the oppressed, it isn’t quite that simple, but, just like on a thermometer, every degree makes a difference. With persistent education and advocacy on the part of citizens, and help from volunteers, law enforcement, and lawmakers, we can make a change, one degree at a time and raise the social temperature to get people fired up about stopping slavery.

In the words of the great JFK, “Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.” I care about human trafficking. I care because no one should be for sale. I care because everyone: man, woman, boy, or girl, should be free. I care because human trafficking happens everywhere, and I want to do my part to make my community a safer and freer place for future generations.

For now, I shall leave you with the wise words of William Wilberforce, an abolitionist in the 1700 and 1800s:

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”


Writing for Freedom,

Darien Smith