This year alone, there has been 142 human trafficking victims and survivors identified in North Carolina through the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Furthermore, 115 calls have been made to the National Trafficking Resource Center and 38 cases reported . (These numbers were updated on March 31, 2016.)
Since 2007, there has been a total of 1,372 victims of human trafficking identified and 609 cases investigated .
These numbers are a reflection of cases identified through the NHT Hotline–other cases and victims are reported/found through law enforcement or other agencies like Social Services.
So, yes. Human Trafficking happens in North Carolina.
But what does that mean? We are starting to hear about human trafficking, but do we really understand what it 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, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” –United Nations
The two main categories of human trafficking are labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Debt-bondage and child labor are also examples of human trafficking [3,4]. Trafficking is happening when a person is put into situations of labor or sex trafficking through the use of “force, fraud, or coercion.” However, in the case of child sexual exploitation, it is immediately deemed exploitation–force, fraud, or coercion does not have to be proven.<sup>3 <sup> Children cannot legally consent to sex, so logically they cannot consent to sell themselves. (Thank goodness for the Child Safe Harbor Act of 2013 which made it so that children could not be charged with prostitution . Find more information on this act here: http://ocrcc.org/safeharbor/ )
Trafficking happens when a parent or relative sells a child for sex. That happens in North Carolina. Trafficking happens when employees are exploited. That happens in North Carolina. Sex and labor trafficking happens in North Carolina.
Here are some links to articles discussing cases of human trafficking in North Carolina: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article75449692.html
These five are just the tip of the iceberg.
Below, are two links to articles that mention the prevalence of human trafficking in the Tarheel State:
It’s a Lack of Choice
It is a popular notion that “trafficking is just a new term for ‘prostitution’ and it is happening between consenting adults.” A child is a victim. In a situation where a girl (or boy) is trafficked at say the age of 12, this person is considered a victim. This child is abused emotionally, physically, and sexually and is told that they are worthless and that no one could possibly love them after what they have done–How is it that after six years in this horribly abusive life, that they are no longer a victim? How is 18 a glorified turning point where a person goes from victim to criminal? Sometimes women (and men) “choose” to be in it because what else are they supposed to do? They first met their pimp when they were 12 years old. 12. For six year (or longer) they were sold for sex (or used for labor). What about people who did not get an education because it did not fit in with their trafficker’s plans? They may not have existed by society’s standards for almost a decade–no paper trail, no record. They have been told repeatedly that they are not anything worthwhile and no one could possibly love them after what they’ve done.
So, for many men and women, no it’s not a true choice–it’s a lack of choice. Had circumstances been different in their lives they would have likely never said yes to this life as an adult.
Why talk about human trafficking? Why do some people care so much?
Because it matters–because it happens on a global scale and happens in our local communities. Because it’s uncomfortable to talk about–so we often don’t.
Because we need to acknowledge and help survivors–because they need to be believed. And because there are misunderstandings and misconceptions about modern slavery that need to be addressed.
We’re finally starting to understand that victims of domestic violence do not stay in abusive relationships because they “like” being hurt. There are psychological and emotional factors at play. There are threats, and those threats are believable, which is why they are effective.
“A victim may stay in the relationship because they are scared of what the abuser will do if they leave. When an abuser calls their partner names, puts them down and plays mind games it can make the victim feel bad about themselves. Many times victims believe that the abuse is their fault or that they deserve the abuse.” –The advocacy center www.theadvocacycenter.org/adv_violencewhy.html
It is a similar situation with trafficking victims and survivors.
Trafficking survivors need help. And love–and resource for support so that they can earn an education and job skills so that they have other options and they have the power to take control of their own lives (because it’s theirs and theirs alone). And they deserve respect. They are people. And they matter.
No more accusations. No more preconceived notions and biases preventing us from growing as a community. No more hate. No more dehumanizing–that just makes it easier to ignore people who need our help, hold traffickers accountable, and fight the problem of modern slavery. Trafficking victims and survivors are people. And they deserve to be treated well–they deserve to be treated like people.
Writing for Freedom,
“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.” ― Margaret Wheatley
Sources referenced and links for more information: