January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

  • Published
  • By Maj. Patricia Hasper
  • 439th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
To spark awareness and vigilance against a growing global human rights crisis, President Barack Obama has proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings and is for all intensive purposes a form of modern-day slavery. The United Nations International Labor organization estimates more than 12 million human trafficking victims worldwide, with an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 new victims each year. When we think of human trafficking, we often think of it as something that happens in far away places on the other side of the world. In fact, trafficking in persons (TIP) occurs in the United States in surprising numbers.

For example ABC News reported back in 2006: A 15-year old girl from an Air Force family, given the pseudonym "Debbie", was abducted from her driveway in broad daylight. She was "broken down" by being held captive in a dog kennel for over 40 days and forced to have sexual relations with over 50 men including her captors. Unlike the vast majority of the victims of human trafficking, however, Debbie ultimately was found alive by police.

The issue of human trafficking and slavery has been a problem since the beginning of time. We all know of our own country's history regarding the matter which public debate peaked during the Civil War period. The use of slaves in our country was eventually outlawed in 1865 when the 13th Amendment was passed making slavery illegal. Most recently, the United Nations took action in 1949 with the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others" and then again with the "Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000."

As a result of this attention and legislation, many other countries adopted anti-trafficking legislation and victim assistance programs. Unfortunately, while the efforts of some countries are proving effective, other countries are failing to implement their laws and in fact, government corruption impedes progress. As a result, human trafficking remains a serious and growing problem worldwide.

What can you do about it? On a personal level it is important to let family and/or friends know where you are at all times. Also the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is a national organization dedicated to work exclusively on the issue of human trafficking they can be reached at 1-888-3737-888 or email http://www.polarisproject.org.

Lyle, A., (2013) DOD Heightens Training, Prevention to Target Human Trafficking
State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Defense Department Combating Trafficking in Persons Office