I think I speak for a majority of us when I say that my parents are immigrants. They moved here in hopes of a life with an excellent education and greater opportunities. In 2009, Natalia arrived in the United States from Ghana, as a young girl under the impression that she would be working part-time for a family and getting an education. Instead, the family that hired her forced her to do housework and watch their children for no pay. Even though they had promised her an education, she was not allowed to register in school, use the phone, or even go outside. One day, a neighbor interfered and called the police, who connected her to Polaris Project, an organization that gave her clothes, a safe place to stay, and enrolled her in a school. Natalia is just one of many victims of human trafficking, which is defined as the action of moving people from one area to another for purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. According to the US State Department, over 700,000 people are being trafficked across international borders annually, about 80 percent being female, and about 50 percent, children. Polaris Project is an organization that combats human trafficking in the United States. It was founded in 2002 by college students; their goal was to ultimately eradicate human trafficking, seek active traffickers, and prevent any additional victims. There have been a number of criticisms of their organization; many have questioned both their inability to distinguish actual human trafficking from jobs with poor conditions, and whether or not their reported work is actually done. I believe that while Polaris Project presents itself as a respectable organization that yields effective results, there are many things wrong with the methods they use to achieve them. They are a nonprofit organization with no ties to the government; while not visibly corrupt, Polaris has received continuous critiques from their own employees, from their lack of direction to their absence of meaningful work. One anonymous employee of Polaris Project revealed on the online forum Glass Door that no one seems to know what [they] are working towards as there is no clear vision or ways to measure if [they] are meeting [their] goals. Another claimed that employees are forced to work hard, but not on something that is really going to make a difference in the world. These testaments establish that the work that is done is often unnecessary or even harmful. In 2012, Polaris shut down an online advertisement site called Backpage, which is similar to the website Craigslist, claiming that it aided human trafficking because it held advertisements that offered sexual services. Though illegal, these were most likely from consenting adults, not trafficking victims, and many say that this would only spread the advertisements to other, less regulated websites. Their work was not only useless, as it only shut down the website while doing nothing about the apparent victims of the advertisements, but it also prevented law enforcement agencies from using the website to identify and trace illegal activities, as they had done before. Some of their methods are controversial, but they must be working–Polaris has a variety of survivor stories on their organization website, each one telling a victim’s story and how they managed to help them. If there are so many happy endings, then the ends should justify the means. Unfortunately, none of these stories are backed with any evidence. Polaris could easily be fabricating stories to gain sympathy from an audience. In fact, they have been accused of misrepresenting evidence numerous times. In the past, they inflated the number of trafficked sex workers, understated the age at which they entered the trade, and used false data to misrepresent the amount of and the income of sex workers. The only source they had referenced was their own organization, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Polaris Project provokes thought in many of us. Their goals are certainly admirable, but when their methods of achieving said goals are so flawed, what good is admiration? I do believe that this organization was founded with good intentions. But recent testaments of employees and their repeated offenses of lying to their audiences confirm our suspicions that they are untrustworthy. CONCLUDING SENTENCE?
Polaris Project Combats Human Trafficking. (2019, May 07).
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