Although the global integration of economics and politics has played a vital role in expanding communication and facilitating the union of many cultural and social movements, it has also cultivated an environment where organized crime can flourish. One of these being the buying and selling of humans for labor, marriage, sex, child soldiers and the harvesting of organs. Generating around 150 billion dollars worldwide, human trafficking in one the largest international crime industries. According to The International Labour Organization there has been an estimated 40.3 million victims of trafficking in 2018 thus far. Globalization has inexplicably created a rise in illicit trade by increasing the economic and demographic inequalities between the underdeveloped and developed countries. Remote parts of the world are now being integrated into the rest of the economy creating an incentive for people to search for work elsewhere. Simultaneously, large corporations are searching outside of their own economies for ways around labor laws and limitations, thus creating a powerful concurrence of factors that allows trafficking to be easily accessible and extremely profitable. According to the U.S Department of Labor, 148 goods imported into the United States this year were made by enslaved children. Global trade has become a guise for modern-day slavery. A narrative of new opportunity for others and more economic efficiency has been fed to those of us with the privilege to believe it, allowing companies and corporations to take advantage of developing countries and not be held responsible. Human trafficking is an attractive market for criminals in this economic environment because humans, unlike drugs, can be sold repeatedly over time. They generate high profits and are in large demand all while the facilitators face minimal risks in most places. Among trafficking victims, 75% are women and girls used for sexual exploitation and forced labor. This disproportionally large number can be attributed to a number of factors including denial of property rights and political participation as well as limited access to education and economic rights. This lack of investment in women and girls has sustained a feminization of poverty throughout the world and continued to increase the risk of victimization. Often lured in by promises of money or freedom in the United States, women are tricked into dangerous environments, and without the resources to find help, stay there and become recruiters themselves. The victim turned perpetrator storyline is growing and has become more glamourized in recent years. It is commonly believed that this epidemic is the problem of foreign countries and not our own, but this could not be further from the truth. Although the United States does not disclose exact statistics due to privacy laws and policies, The National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 14,117 calls and verified 5,147 cases this year. The majority of which were women of color for sexual exploitation in California, Texas, and Florida. This epidemic is happening in our backyards and growing rapidly yet too often goes unnoticed because it does not fit popular media images of what victims look like. Movies, tv shows, and popular news stories tend to depict whitewashed versions of victims and discounts the fact that women of color have always faced these types of exploitation. Also, these women and girls are often persecuted by structures such as the foster care system or welfare state before they are victimized by trafficking making it difficult to identify those being held against their will. Countries, including the United States, have attempted to combat human trafficking by increasing legal labor mobility, implementing training and prevention programs, and pushing for greater public awareness but corruption and bribery are rampant. Organized crime groups use these tactics to create ties with politicians, police officials, and border patrol agencies. Few countries see human trafficking as important as combating drugs or other forms of international crime and fail to allocate the necessary resources to fight it. Ultimately though, it is the lack of harmonized global legislation that has prevented any real progress. Without cohesive regulations and laws to hold countries accountable, this cycle of slavery and abuse will continue. The lack of attention and urgency to respond to such a large and terrifying epidemic cannot be explained without looking at it through the prism of historic misogyny and sexism throughout the globe. If it were men being impacted at such high rates there might be more of a push to find a solution but the reality is that human trafficking stems from power structures that have always neglected women, especially those of color. The normalization of women’s oppressions has cultivated an environment where women can be enslaved and abused all over the world and until society is able to move away from that narrative it will continue to see this occur. Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime organization in the world. The allowance of free-flowing capital has inadvertently increased access to minority women and girls and created a capitalistic sphere where humans are assigned a monetary value. Moral panic and ineffective directive are not enough to combat and correct the intimate and frightening relationship between globalization and trafficking. It is with the same rapid communication and global integration that has created this environment that also has the ability to disassemble it. Steps must be taken to hold leaders and politicians accountable. We must move away from the idea that this is a taboo concept that is not suitable for conversation and start giving it the attention it requires. ?
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