According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), human trafficking is defined as “the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” When we think of human trafficking, we usually think of young kids and women who are forced into this type of life — whether by kidnapping or an alternate means of pressure or financial stress. But we rarely consider what human trafficking costs us all every day.
Human trafficking has hidden fees. These cost us our security, economic growth, and innocence. Even though the concept of trafficking is receiving more widespread attention, there are still around 25 million individuals trafficked globally each year. Those who would use humans to advance their own financial interests make an estimated combined $32 to $150 billion every year.
Author of Illicit Moises Naim said, “Throughout the twentieth century, to the extent that governments paid attention to illicit trade at all, they framed it — to their public, and to themselves — as the work of criminal organizations…Only recently has this mindset began to shift.”
Big American sexual abuse law firms like Paul Mones struggle to ascertain the reasons why their case loads are on the rise even as international authorities clamp down on these heinous acts.
One of the reasons that trafficking costs world economies so much is because the trafficked individuals do not produce wages or salaries. That loss is likely undersold by authorities. A Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report suggests that the loss amounts to about $325 billion per year, which is notably even higher than the estimated gains made by those who perpetrate this type of crime.
The impact on economies that rely on tourism is massive. Countries like the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Moldova, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe rely on money from overseas to stay afloat.
Another hidden cost is covered by the healthcare, which must help reduce the impact of the years of trauma inflicted upon these exploited individuals.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “Exploring the ways in which human trafficking enables terrorist and armed groups, finances criminal organizations, and supports abusive regimes…[could undermine] our collective security.”
The paper continues to state that “analyzing how the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified economic instability worldwide and increased risks of human trafficking and forced labor” is important to understand how authorities and citizens themselves can protect the exploited. COVID-19 has presented a golden opportunity for traffickers through this instability.
Myths about human trafficking include: It only occurs in third-world countries or outside of the United States; it only occurs to those who live in poverty; sex trafficking is the same thing as human trafficking; victims must be forced/coerced; human smuggling is the same thing as human trafficking; victims always seek help when able.
In order to fully understand human trafficking and all its implications, we must first ascertain why these misconceptions are false — and then work to educate those who still do not understand or strive to remain ignorant.