This is part two of a three part guest blog series on human trafficking.
Human trafficking occurs when men, women and/or children are subjected to exploitative conditions tantamount to slavery. Activities like prostitution, drug smuggling and forced labor all fall within the rubric of human trafficking. Despite state, federal and international efforts from governments and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to combat trafficking, the United Nations (UN) estimates approximately 20-30 million people worldwide are subjected to some form of trafficking. Victims originating from Eastern and Central Europe, Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America are disproportionately high and the United States has served as primary destination for many of them.
The US Attorney General recently made the following remarks on the topic of human trafficking:
‘It is alarming, and almost unfathomable, to consider that – 150 years since President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation; more than six decades after the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights prohibited the practice of slavery on a global scale; and nearly a dozen years from the day that, with President Clinton’s approval, the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act became law – today, in communities across and beyond this country, slavery persists. In fact, according to the U.N., there are up to 27 million people worldwide who currently toil in bondage – more than at any other time in human history.’
In “A Walk Across the Sun,” Corban Addison describes the story of two young Indian girls sexually victimized after a tsunami leaves them orphaned and homeless and the efforts of an attorney working for an NGO to rescue them. Sadly, millions of similar stories are unraveling across the planet everyday, especially in the US. American policy towards human trafficking focuses on protection, prosecution and prevention of victims.
In Maryland, the Attorney General, the US Attorney and State’s Attorney for Baltimore City joined in 2007 to form the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force. Their mission is to work with state, federal agencies and NGOs to rescue victims and investigate and prosecute offenders. At the federal level, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) provides 5,000 temporary visas (i.e., T Visa) every year for certain victims of severe trafficking. Subject to certain conditions, these victims can apply for permanent green cards sometime after obtaining the temporary visa.
Prevention and prosecution are important tools in the fight to end human trafficking, but victims need ongoing support including mental health programs to help mitigate the damage that has already occurred. In Maryland, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention Website provides a directory of providers in the area that serve the various needs of victims of human trafficking. Having the resources is certainly important, but we need to work with our communities to make sure victims are being identified and proper care provided immediately upon their discovery. CHAI is dedicated to providing outreach services to those with mental health needs and South Asians are among the communities that are disproportionately affected by human trafficking. Click the link to read more about CHAI’s participation in the Governor’s Conference on Human Trafficking. CHAI @ Gov.’s Conf. on HT
Human trafficking is a global epidemic that is impacting humanity more now than in any other period in human history. Government and NGOs must continue working together to protect the victims, prosecute these criminals and prevent these crimes.