Friday, March 28, 2014

Human Trafficking And 32 Billion Reasons To Fight It

By Stevie J. Swanson

During the 360-year span of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, approximately 9.9 million Africans were transported to the Americas. Robert Fogel, “Slavery in the New World,” in “Slavery in American Society 22” (Lawrence B. Goodheart et al. eds., 1992). It is estimated that there are currently 27 million people enslaved worldwide.  President Barack Obama has stated that human trafficking is modern-day slavery. More awareness is necessary to eradicate human trafficking. Most people simply do not think that slavery still exists today; however, human trafficking is a $32 billion-per-year industry.  

Civil rights and social justice advocates in the United States need to pay particular attention to the human-trafficking epidemic. Traffickers prey on vulnerable populations, such as undocumented migrants, runaways, at-risk youth, and members of oppressed and marginalized groups, although anyone is a potential victim. Mary C. Burke, “Human Trafficking: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” (Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group, 2013).

Florida ranks third in the nation for human-trafficking violations.  Many victims of the sex-trafficking industry are linked to adult entertainment, and Hillsborough County has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in America.  The ramifications of the human-trafficking epidemic are, as a recent and compelling WEDU documentary title states, “Too Close to Home.”

What can we do to help?  Education, corporate responsibility in supply chains, conscientious consumerism, and legislative reform are all viable ways to effectuate positive change. You can go to to see how the items you purchase are related to human trafficking (and see how many slaves are working for you). Additionally, you can report suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking Tip Line at 1-888-373-7888.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” Let us do what we can to end the silence. Noted abolitionist William Wiberforce once said, “You may choose to look the other way, but you may never again say that you did not know.” We must acknowledge the crisis of human trafficking in order to successfully combat it.  If you are interested in learning more about human trafficking, you are welcome to email me at