This week, Yuri Fedetov, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, told the UN General Assembly that 2.4 million people around the globe are victims of human trafficking. Although some are exploited for manual labor, most are sex slaves.
Let me repeat. 2.4 million women, men and children are being held as slaves at any one time! And only 1 in 100 is ever rescued!
So what is the world doing to stop this $32 billion/year industry? Not much. We sometimes revictimize the women by arresting them as prostitutes. We sometimes arrest the Johns who use the victims and are largely unaware of their circumstances. But comparitively little effort is expended toward disrupting the flow of traffickers. And virtually no effort is made to arrest the heads of this international crime industry.
We take the same approach to drugs. We have imprisoned tens of thousands for drug use and as small time dealers. But we have had little success in bringing the large dealers and industry leaders to justice. And when we arrest one leader, another quickly takes his place.
Could the fact that these industries control billions of dollars have something to do with the fact that we seem unable to stop the illegal trafficking? Weve seen the Mexican drug cartels use their money to buy politicians, police and the courts, and to intimidate the populace. And these tactics are not unique to Mexico. Theres little doubt that traffickers of humans and arms in other countries (including the US) do the same things.
Likely, the people at the very top of these industries do not appear to be criminals. They are people of great wealth and influence. They have built a network of powerful friends which makes them seem invincible.
So what can we do to stop them? For one thing, we can make sure that our family and friends are aware of the problem. We can tell our state and federal representatives that these industries need to be stopped. We can demand that our governments change their approach to these crimes and, instead of attacking the victims and the lowest levels of these enterprises, use our resources to track down and attack the very highest levels.
We have the capability to end human trafficking. The question is: Do we have the will?