By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
4/4/2012 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The UN has released its latest assessment on human trafficking and the numbers are appalling. The report calls for changes in crime fighting priorities and coordinated efforts between agencies and governments.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The numbers may shock you.
NUMBER OF VICTIMS AT ANY GIVEN TIME ....2.4 MILLION
PERCENTAGE OF VICTIMS EXPLOITED FOR SEXUAL SLAVERY ....80 PERCENT
NUMBER OF VICTIMS EXPLOITED AS FORCED LABOR (SLAVES) ....17 PERCENT
RATIO OF FEMALE TO MALE SLAVES (Including Children) .... TWO OF THREE
ANNUAL VALUE OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN DOLLARS ....$32 BILLION
AVERAGE COST OF ONE HUMAN SLAVE ....$90 USD
ODDS OF RESCUE ....ONE CHANCE IN ONE HUNDRED
Most victims of human trafficking unknowingly enter the market after being lured by promises of work and opportunities by predatory individuals and organizations. Others are children that are literally sold into slavery by parents as a means to pay debt or to reduce the number of children they must feed. A minority of the victims are bound as slaves after entering agreements to be smuggled across borders or as a means of covering personal debts under threat of violence.
And the problem isn't isolated to the third world. Human trafficking goes on in industrialized countries and can be found right on Main Street, USA. For example, hundreds of American children, many fleeing destructive homes, are forced into prostitution on an annual basis. That's the conservative estimate.
In London, England it is believed that most of the marijuana cultivated in the city is produced by forced child labor.
The industrialized world is also a party to third world slavery. For example, child slaves initially cultivate much of the chocolate produced in Cote d'Ivorie which is later consumed worldwide.
Women tend to be the most frequent victims. This may be because they are fleeing gender inequality, forced marriages, or other misogynistic practices back home. In so doing, they get caught up in a cure that is worse than the disease. And sex appears to be the predominant use of females slaves.
Despite the prevalence of women as slaves, men are also trafficked, and occasionally pressed into sexual slavery. It is common for young girls and boys to become prostitutes.
Despite the numbers, which appear to be growing, Michelle Banchelet the head of UN Women says, "it's difficult to think of a crime more hideous and shocking than human trafficking. Yet, it is one of the fastest growing and lucrative crimes." At $32 billion per year, it's easy to understand why.
Only the illegal drug trade is more lucrative, but far more money and effort is spent fighting drugs around the world than what is spent on human trafficking.
To solve the problem, the UN is calling on governments to prioritize human trafficking cases and to target not just the pimps and sweatshops, but also the people who recruit, smuggle, and sell other people.
Actress Mira Sorvino, the UN's goodwill ambassador against human trafficking said, "Transnational organized crime groups are adding humans to their product lists. Satellites reveal the same routes moving them as arms and drugs."
In the US, she added, "only 10 percent of police stations have any protocol to deal with trafficking."
Worse, many outmoded laws punish the victims themselves. There are plenty of laws that fine and even jail prostitutes, and other laws that threaten to deport victims to the places from whence they came, but legislation to punish the traffickers is spotty and ill-conceived at best.
Despite the UN report, the agency's fund to fight human trafficking has only received $47,000 sent by UN member nations who have pledged less than $1 million to fight the problem.
One final statistic:
LIFE EXPECTANCY OF A CHILD PROSTITUTE .....7 YEARS
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