The Path of Human Trafficking in My Own Backyard

The Path of Human Trafficking in My Own Backyard

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9282-3.ch002
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Human trafficking has been an ongoing global social problem for decades with nearly 40.3 million estimated victims worldwide. This chapter, therefore, spotlights human trafficking with a special interest in the author's hometown of Flushing. Sex trafficking and sex work are two emotive issues about which much has been written because they touch the core of people's beliefs about morality, justice, gender, and human rights. The study demonstrates that trafficking in persons is a human rights violation that affects the lives of millions of women, girls, men, and boys worldwide. However, a large majority of identified trafficked victims are women and girls representing 71% of all trafficked victims detected globally. Findings reveal that the harms of trafficking are known to be more severe for women than for men and boys because of their exposure to specific forms of exploitation such as sexual exploitation and violence, domestic servitude, and forced marriage.
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Every year, millions of people are trafficked worldwide (Department of Homeland Security, n.d.). According to Van Buren III, Schrempf-Stirling and Westermann-Behayalo (2021) there are about 21 to 25 million people who are trafficked every day. There are literally about 40 million victims of trafficking or slavery worldwide (U.S. Custom & Border Patrol, 2020). Of that 40 million, 24.9 were forced into labor and 15.4 million were forced into marriages (U.S. Custom & Border Patrol, 2020). Twenty-five (25) percent of these victims are children, that is, 10 million (U.S. Custom & Border Patrol, 2020).

In fact, it has been stated that “human trafficking is one of the most lucrative international criminal activities and is widespread across a variety of industries” (Van Buren III, Schrempf-Stirling & Westermann-Behayalo, 2021, p. 341). It should be noted that all forms of human trafficking do not necessarily involve prostitution or sex crimes, however, many of them do. According to the Oxford Dictionary, human trafficking is defined as follows; “the unlawful act transporting or coercing people in order to benefit from their work or service, typically in the form of forced labor or sexual exploitation” (Lexico, 2022, p. 1). 99% of the sex trafficking industry are women and young girls (U.S. Custom & Border Patrol, 2020). As for the United States, it is the 2nd highest destination when it comes to women being part of a human trafficking ring (Spagnuoio, 2015), which is usually related to sexual exploitation. Surprisingly, 83% (i.e., eighty-three percent) of all sexually trafficked persons in the United States are citizens of the United States (Spagnuoio, 2015). Even more surprising is that the highest level of operation of human trafficking (i.e., in any form) occurs in the borough of Queens, NY (Spagnuoio, 2015).

It is also important to note that human trafficking appears to be rampant within the corporate structure (O’Brien, 2018; Van Buren III, Schrempf-Stirling Jr. & Westermann-Behaylo, 2021). In fact, social injustices occur within the arm of corporations on a regular basis (Van Buren III, Schrempf-Stirling Jr. & Westermann-Behaylo, 2021). There are a number of calls for reform within this institution of business that is paramount within society (Van Buren III, Schrempf-Stirling Jr. & Westermann-Behaylo, 2021). The issue continues to be one of supply and demand (Van Buren III, Schrempf-Stirling Jr. & Westermann-Behaylo, 2021). It is unfortunate, but “demand fuels the growth of human trafficking” (O’Brien, 2018, p. 39). As long as people demand the “product” of human consumption, recruiters, the mob, and pimps will accrue the supply. Nonetheless, the Modern Slavery Act (2015) holds corporations accountable and/or responsible for trafficking incidents related to their companies (O’Brien, 2018). In other words, if the law finds out that a corporation has hired those who are being trafficked, they will be held accountable in a criminal court and possibly also within a civil court as well (Gunderson, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Rogue Police Officers: Police Officers who commit crimes, run criminal rings, etc., which is counterproductive to their vow to protect and serve.

Massage Parlor: A parlor that appears to offer massages but sells sexual favors.

Human Trafficking: The illegal act of forcing people to complete work or service against their will. It can be for labor that has not been agreed to or for sex acts that have not been agreed to for the benefit of the trafficker.

Sex Trafficking: A form of human trafficking that focuses on the exploitation of its victims for sex – exchange money for sex that the trafficker then keeps.

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