Modern day slavery

Human trafficking, or modern-day slavery, is a crime that exploits people worldwide and reaps billions of dollars every year. Courtesy of


Human trafficking, or modern-day slavery, is a crime that exploits people worldwide and reaps billions of dollars every year. Courtesy of
Human trafficking, or modern-day slavery, is a crime that exploits people worldwide and reaps billions of dollars every year.
Courtesy of

Natalia, a 13-year-old girl from Ghana, came to the United States in hope of receiving an education. Little did she know, she would become a slave.
After arriving in the US, Natalia lived with a man who sexually and physically abused her. He forced her to do housework for 18 hours a day without pay. Not allowed to go to school, go outside, or even make a phone call, Natalia lived a life of misery and fear.
Natalia is just one of the 30 million people in the world who have lived, or currently live, as victims of modern day slavery, also known as human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a crime that plagues nearly every country in the world. According to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking report “Human Trafficking: the Facts,” 43 percent of victims are forced to participate in commercial sexual exploitation.

Other forms of human trafficking include forced labor, domestic servitude (as in Natalia’s case), forced marriage, organ removal and the employment of children in activities such as begging and warfare. 

Although victims can come from a variety of backgrounds, traffickers tend to target those who are impoverished and uneducated. Like Natalia, victims often come from poverty-stricken areas and are trafficked into wealthier communities. They are willing to leave their homes in search of a better life, unaware that they will be lured into the crime.
Director of the Human Trafficking Program at My Sister’s Place in Yonkers, New York, Ms. Lauren Pesso, has seen many circumstances in which victims are coaxed into the trafficking ring.
“In our experience, most survivors are coerced or defrauded into a trafficking situation by someone they know,” Ms. Pesso said. “We have also worked on cases where the trafficker is part of a fake business or labor recruiter that intentionally deceives potential workers.”
Once brought into the ring, many of these vulnerable victims find it hard to escape or receive help. Onlookers are often unaware of the crime, while officials lack the training necessary to properly handle the situation.

President of the United States, Barack Obama, increased awareness of the issue during the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2012, where he laid out an improved plan to combat human trafficking.

“We’ve expanded our interagency task force to include more federal partners, including the FBI,” President Obama said, according to “The intelligence community is devoting more resources to identifying trafficking networks.” 

President Obama sees communication between officials as a vital step towards preventing human trafficking. Ms. Oanh-Nhi Nguyen, Convent of the Sacred Heart alumna and interim Broadcast Journalism teacher, noticed this need for communication when she conducted a research study on sex trafficking in central Pennsylvania.
“There was a lack of collaboration between service providers, law enforcement, and allied professionals, as well as a lack of resources for survivors,” Ms. Nguyen said.
According to the United Nations Global Compact, traffickers are not always identified as criminals. They are rarely convicted of their crimes because they operate in total secrecy. There were 5,808 prosecutions and 3,160 convictions worldwide in 2006. In other words, only one of 800 traffickers was convicted.
While the conviction rate is increasing, the crime rate is growing even faster. According to an article entitled “Human Trafficking” by Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General of the State of California, human trafficking is the fastest growing business in the world, more prolific than drug and weapons trafficking.
The exponential growth of human trafficking is one reason why it is the second most profitable crime in the world. Its annual profits are estimated to be about $31.6 billion dollars, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.” 

This lucrative, illicit crime not only harms victims, but also hurts society as a whole, according to an essay entitled “Economics of Human Trafficking” written by Elizabeth M. Wheaton, Edward J. Schauer, and Thomas V. Galli of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“Human trafficking affects the global economy as source countries lose part of their labour supplies and transit and destination countries deal with the costs of illegal immigration,” the essay states.

The Polaris Project New Jersey is an organization dedicated to preventing human trafficking and helping victims rehabilitate. The Polaris Project helped Natalia after she escaped, providing her with shelter, case management, counseling and emotional support. These steps are vital for victims’ rehabilitation after they escape trafficking.
“Human trafficking is hidden crime. Victims experience psychological trauma through a cycle of violence and manipulation which affects them during and after the crime,” Ms. Nguyen said. 
Jane Wells and John-Keith Wasson, co-directors of the documentary “Tricked,” which investigates the sex trafficking industry in the US, also saw the psychological aftermath of the crime when interviewing victims.
“Worse than the physical abuse is the ongoing trauma. Years later, those we interviewed struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, chronic pelvic disease, the repercussions of forced abortions, depression, drug addiction, self-mutilation and shame,” Wells and Wasson wrote in an article on

Apart from the immediate effects of the crime, there are not enough shelters and resources to meet the long-term physical and mental needs of the victims. While collecting data in Pennsylvania, Ms. Nguyen noticed the lack of adequate shelters to accommodate over 200 victims in Pennsylvania alone.
All over the world, people are stripped of their basic rights as human beings. They are taken advantage of and treated as property. Adults and children are bought, sold, raped, beaten, controlled, exploited, and trapped. They are vulnerable. They are slaves.
– Alice Millerchip, Co-Sports and Health Editor