People often ask me why I am passionate about the issue human trafficking. I find it difficult to convey in just a few words. For almost as long as I can remember, I have had the desire to fight against social injustice. I believe in the dignity and value of every human life, and in fighting for those who don’t have a voice. In light of all the problems in the world today, I have experienced overwhelming frustration. I have also struggled with the feeling of insignificance. But it was still easy to compartmentalize these feelings and forget about them because these issues didn’t impact me on a daily basis.
Human trafficking was just another social issue until I discovered how pervasive it is in my everyday life.
In a world that is growing increasingly globalized, it is difficult to go more than a few days without hearing of a social justice issue, political battle, or philanthropic movement. Thanks to the Internet, we have the ability to connect with people and issues on the other side of the world. Stories of natural disasters, war, and other tragedies are a mere click away.
When faced with seemingly endless problems, the desire to effect change can be daunting.
It is easy to forget about injustice when we don’t have to look the victims in the eye. How often do we feel pangs of guilt when driving past a panhandler, but quickly forget as we get further down the road? When all is well in our own lives, it is easier to just be thankful for our blessings, say a prayer for those who hurt, and move on.
How would your perspective change if you learned that exploitation and abuse impacted almost every facet of your life?
When people hear the words “human trafficking” they often think of a scene from the movie “Taken”: women drugged, kidnapped, and forced into prostitution. While situations like this do exist (and must be stopped), the issue is even more extensive than we would like to think.
Victims of human trafficking can be found in high schools, their bodies sold so that their boyfriend or girlfriend can earn money or drugs. They can be in restaurants, working long hours for little to no pay under the threat of deportation. They can been seen in pornographic films or photo shoots, being forced to work under duress or under the false promise of “making it big”.
The clothes that we wear can be made by adults and children that are forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions. The produce and coffee we enjoy is often picked by migrant workers that are coerced to work long hours without receiving the pay they were promised. When the Super Bowl arrives every year, it has the potential to become one of the single largest sex trafficking incidents of the year in the U.S. as victims are brought in to service the influx of people.
As much as we would like to think we can simply look away and move on, the truth is that it is happening right in front of us.
We should be deeply concerned about human trafficking, because it intertwines with many other social justice issues. It is connected to gender and racial inequality because at its root is the belief that one human life is worth less than another. It is connected to fair pay and immigration because victims can be trapped due to lack of income, debt bondage, or the threat of deportation. It is connected to domestic violence because too often the perpetrators are spouses, parents, or family members. As we fight human trafficking, we also fight for human dignity in all walks of life, no matter the race, gender identity, religion, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation.
Take a look around your life and you will likely begin to recognize the traces of exploitation. Do not be discouraged. Instead, let it inspire you to take a stand and end the cycle.
One way to take a stand is to support Beautiful Dream Society, an organization actively fighting human trafficking every day. Visit www.beautifuldream.tv/donate today to give or for information on other ways you can get involved. Together, may we be the generation that ends it.
Chancey Herbolsheimer,Intern, Beautiful Dream Society