Human Trafficking Growing

Photo Courtesy of Kay Chernush, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S.State Department.

Part 1 of a series

By Dennis J. Freeman

Human trafficking and sexual bondage co-exist as a way of life in Europe. For many women and children that means being exploited and forced into the sex trade and being turned out by lovers, husbands, relatives or intimidating thugs. They’re beaten. They’re raped, tortured and endure a life of drudgery, physical pain, emotional anguish and a dead-end existence.

That could mean being held against their will in a cell. Instead of freedom, their lives retreat into occupational slavery where only meeting the satisfactory needs of a client can mean the difference between life and death.

Human trafficking is not just a continental issue. It is a global epidemic that has turned into a multi-billion dollar business.  According to Save the Children, an organization that creates awareness about human trafficking, profiteering off of child and human trafficking is worth as much as $32 billion a year. To generate that kind of money there has to be a lot of people working in servitude. Free the Slaves, another human trafficking organization, estimate that there as many as 27 million people working under forced labor conditions.

That includes women who are forced into human trafficking to pay off a debt, become entrapped with false promises of better employment opportunities and or coerced into a phony marriage for panning illegal activity. Forced child marriages, where Internet and mail-in brides are extremely popular, have become a dominant agenda item for sex slave traders.  

Human trafficking means long hours of forced labor. Victims receive little or no pay for work in agriculture, textiles, factory work and domestic service. In Europe, human trafficking is defined by the illegal sex trade.

The U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, which is released annually, has blueprinted European countries Moldova, Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Italy, Albania, Bulgaria and the Ukraine as major perpetrators of the sex slave industry. Russia, Romania, Greece, Hungary and France, have also been complicit in this area.

 In Germany, which legalizes prostitution, sex traffic can get out of hands when international events such as the World Cup land on its doorsteps. Maureen Greenwood-Basken, director of Policy Initiatives, Women and Population Program at United Nations Foundation and former acting managing director of Government Relations and Advocacy Development at Amnesty International USA, said all forms of human trafficking is big in Germany.   

“In Germany, we found that people were being trafficked into forced prostitution but they were also trafficked in construction work and factories,” Greenwood-Basken said. “Prostitution is legal in Germany, but what Amnesty International is trying to do is draw attention to people forced into prostitution or other forms of forced labor.”

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