I have been researching and attending events related to human trafficking ever since writing and publishing my novel True Mercy. Still, when I attended a discussion entitled “A Community Conversation: Modern Slavery—Global to Local” at Seton Hall University, I gathered a great deal of new information. Slavery/human trafficking concerns everyone whether we realize it or not. It is occurring throughout the world, but many are surprised to find out it is also happening in cities and suburbs across the United States.
Before I relate the eye-opening information, first I would like to list the event’s speakers.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (Hamilton, NJ) is serving his 19th term in the House of Representatives and is the author of the comprehensive legislation, “ The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (PL 106-386).” This is a federal, multi-agency approach to prevent slavery, protect victims, and punish traffickers to the full extent of the law. He gave his talk through telephone conferencing.
Ingrid Johnson is a registered nurse and a member of the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking. She has worked tirelessly in the cause of human trafficking awareness ever since she rescued her daughter from the clutches of human traffickers fourteen years ago.
Dr. Bernard Freamon is a professor of legal philosophy specializing in Islamic Jurisprudence and Islamic Legal History. He teaches at Seton Hall School of Law. He has written extensively on human trafficking/slavery in Asia and Africa. Dr. Freamon is currently working on his latest book, Possessed by The Right Hand: The Problem of Slavery in Islamic Law and Muslim Cultures.
Kate Lee is the Administrator of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Co-Chair of the NJ Governor’s Advisory Council Against Sexual Violence. She has organized numerous conferences and workshops to raise awareness.
Robert Boneberg is the Coordinator of the Slave-Free Community Project and is the Co-Chair of the Slave-Free Commerce Committee of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
The five speakers made the following points:
- There are an estimated 21 to 46 million slaves in the world. There are many different forms of slavery. They include slavery, human trafficking, forced labor, sex trafficking, and debt bondage.
- Approximatley 15,000-18,000 slaves are imported in the U.S. annually. They comprise of sex slaves (50%), and others, including slaves in domestic service, business enterprises, and agriculture.
- In regards to slavery around the Indian Ocean in Asia and near Africa, human trafficking is a continuation of what has been happening there for the last 3-4,000 years. Efforts to eradicate slavery in this part of the world have been a failure.
- There are three reasons slavery is still happening in the world: 1.) Migration-People are migrating around the world in a manner never seen before. Criminals take advantage of this by trafficking people escaping their countries. 2.) Climate disasters— Traffickers again take advantage of people escaping natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. 3.) Conflict—Militant Muslim groups like ISIS take slaves.
- Women from Mexico and African countries have been trafficked in various parts of New Jersey, according to arrest documents .
- One way to eradicate slavery is to pay attention to the products we buy. The US Dept of Labor has identified the following products that are often made by child or forced labor. Among them are coffee, fruit, nuts, cotton, chocolate, rice, gold, and footwear.
- Red Flag: If one sees a young person getting gifts that are inappropriate, that may be a sign that a person may be trying to lure them into trafficking.
- Slaves are very cheap now because of migration. They are considered disposable people. It is more expensive to fly to Haiti than to buy a slave in Haiti.
- There are more slaves today than ever before in history.
- Approximately one quarter of them are children.
- Approximately one fifth are in sex slavery.
- Approximately 15 million people are in forced marriages.
- There are approximately 58,000 slaves in the U.S.
- Traffickers make approximately $150,000,000,000 from slavery per year.
The meeting concluded with speakers telling audience members that only when people work together can slavery finally be eradicated once and for all.
If you suspect slavery/human trafficking is taking place, do not attempt to rescue that person yourself. You may be putting that person in even more danger. It is best to call the following number:
National 24 hour hotline 1-888-373-7888
or Text INFO or HELP to BE FREE (233733)
Join in the fight to prevent slavery!
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