There are 12.3 million children, women and adults being exploited for labor and sex in the human trafficking business and the Model United Nations members on the University of La Verne campus decided to spread the word on this issue.
A lecture on the awareness of human trafficking was given Thursday in the Presidents Dining Room as a part of the Hot Spots lecture series, this year’s theme being immigration.
“Human trafficking is basically modernized slavery. This doesn’t make any human feel good and it’s a bad thing that we still have it today,” said speaker Lauren Medina.
The idea for this lecture came about when three students, Ryan Taketomo, Robert Boone and Medina, suggested it to associate professor of history Kenneth Marcus and he deemed it a great way to spread awareness of this inhumane activity.
“We did this to see how much we didn’t know about human trafficking to find out how much the average person doesn’t know about it and spread awareness,” Boone said. “A lot happens right in front of your eyes and you don’t even know it.”
Human trafficking occurs when a person is taken either by force or trickery to work for another person as a slave. It is divided into sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking includes prostitution, commercial sexual exploitation and sexual tourism.
The speakers explained how many women are talked into this job by being promised a better life only to be tricked into prostitution or by being led into drug addiction. The addiction fuels their need to work for the drugs and keeps the trafficking business running.
Labor trafficking occurs when the victim finds themselves in a great debt to the person who helped them seek a better opportunities but instead lied to them. They must then work to pay them back but the owners know their slaves will never work enough.
Human trafficking is a $9 billion enterprise that has risen from economic inequality in the Middle East, which pushes exploitation. It is a cost-efficient business with a high demand and cheap labor.
Boone explained how he found that the United States classifies countries into three separate tiers depending on the level of caution and action taken against human trafficking. The first tier means that the country has all the preventive measures against trafficking, the second tier means these countries have some regulations and are either improving or close to falling down to the third tier, and the third tier means there are no preventive measures against the illegal business in the country.
The number of the tier determines if and how much economic aid will be taken away from these countries.
The speakers found that although the United States falls into the first tier, there are still cases found in the United States where exploitation exists.
An audience member spoke of a recent case in Orange County where a family was paying parents in a foreign country $30 a month to keep their daughter in the United States as their housekeeper. A neighbor noticed and called a human trafficking hotline, and this slave was freed and received compensation.
“It’s amazing how we fought an entire Civil War on this issue and slavery still exists today,” said speaker Ryan Taketomo.
As members of the Model UN, the speakers brought the attention to the organization called the Blue Heart Campaign, created by The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, to bring awareness of human trafficking. All three speakers were wearing blue in honor of this organization, encouraging members of the audience to participate and get involved in the war against forced labor.
Rebecca Bravo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.