Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery, a multibillion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world. It ranks as one of the largest illegal trades alongside drug trafficking, arms trade and wildlife trafficking. Human Trafficking is often riddled with misconceptions, leaving the majority of us misinformed or under-informed about the ways it affects the world. When talking about human trafficking, it’s essential to be well-informed to accurately represent the problem at hand, and that means we need to tackle these misconceptions head-on.
Here are six common human trafficking myths and what you can do to help the crisis.
MYTH 1: Trafficking is the same as smuggling.
REALITY: Trafficking is the acquisition of people by means such as force, fraud or coercion, with the aim of exploiting them. Smuggling is the illegal movement of people across a country’s borders. Smuggled people may become trafficked, but not all trafficked people are smuggled.
MYTH 2: Human Trafficking is only a problem in developing countries.
REALITY: Poor countries usually get the most attention when talking about human trafficking, but it happens around the globe — and yes, that includes countries like the United States. Though some countries are certainly more at risk, it’s important to know that modern slavery doesn’t only exist in low-income regions. In fact, our lives are deeply intertwined with the realities of human trafficking, even if we don’t notice it. North Carolina is among the top 10 states with the highest number of reported human trafficking cases, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Experts say the number of major interstates that cross through the state, the large agriculture industry and the immigrant population that sustains it, the state’s seven military bases and its strategic location along the East Coast contribute to the issue.
MYTH 3: Only females are victims of trafficking.
REALITY: While an estimated 70% of those trafficked are women and girls, this description isn’t entirely accurate. It’s also a problem for men and boys, especially when discussing forced labor. At any given time, an estimated 21 million people around the world are trapped in the cycle of trafficking, all from different places, of different races, religions and sex. Men and boys can also be victims of sexual exploitation.
MYTH 4: Victims will always seek help.
REALITY: Victims of trafficking often do not immediately seek help or self identify as victims of a crime, due to lack of trust, self blame, or blackmail by the traffickers. Traffickers often threaten violence against those they exploit and their family if they seek help from authorities. If you are suspicious that someone is a victim of human trafficking you can make an anonymous report to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
MYTH 5: The problem is too big to solve.
REALITY: Everyone can help in some way. There are so many ways for you to not only spread the word but to volunteer and start fighting child sexual trafficking and exploitation.
So what can you do?
Human trafficking is a serious issue. The first step to stopping it is to inform the public about what it really is. In definition, “human trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” With proper knowledge of common human trafficking misconceptions, you can have a role in breaking the cycle of misinformation. Confront myths and start conversations grounded in fact. To learn more about human trafficking watch this video – Human Trafficking 101.
Fighting for Freedom,