What is the value of a human life? Does all life have the same value? Does value depend on the services that life can provide? Is there some sort of tangible baseline of value for a human being? These are the questions we approach when dealing with the telltale degradation of human life crossing many cultures, regions, societies, income classes, genders, and ages: human trafficking.
Human trafficking has become a topic of interest as the rates of occurrence continue to skyrocket around the globe. Maybe the issue would be easier to stomach if it had a central location from which it originated, a way to pin point the problem. There isn’t. The truth is, human trafficking happens everywhere, right under our noses. It happens far away, and it happens next door. This is everywhere. It’s time to open our eyes.
So what is this ultra prevalent assault to the value of a human being? Many times human trafficking is oversimplified to sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is the process of removing the ability for an individual to consent, or selecting someone who does not possess the ability to consent, to sexual acts. Sometimes this includes holding someone’s immigration status ransom, or making threats of violence, or otherwise severing ties to help and relief. Unfortunately, human trafficking includes much more than this. Human trafficking can also be defined as forced labor or labor for no pay or labor in exchange for slavery. To be very simple, human trafficking is most readily defined as modern day slavery. Slavery is not dead; it is real, alive, and evolving.
This is where we come in, we people who can do something. That includes everyone. “He, who has ears, let him hear.” Not everyone is equipped to go into the eye of the storm, guns ablaze, and rescue the victims of human trafficking. Sure, that need exists, but the general public is not capable of such a task. That’s just fine, but we need a job. At least, that is my reaction each and every time I am confronted with a stark reminder of these atrocities. Here is what we can do:
- Realize no community is safe from human trafficking. Be vigilant in your awareness. Do not assume a small community in rural Iowa would not be affected by this because that is simply inaccurate. Iowa has one of the fastest growing markets for human trafficking in the United States.
- Decide to be active. Educate yourself on human trafficking prevention. There are many groups who are willing to come to you to teach you how to work with local law enforcement to end human trafficking in your town.
- Give. Give money, time, energy, thoughts, prayers, or other resources. Organizations that help the victims of human trafficking reintegrate into society need you to participate. Maybe you can provide clothing, a meal, time, or assistance to one of these organizations (links will be provided).
- Be gracious. You probably encounter the victims of human trafficking without being aware. Remember that. Battle the degradation of human worth with grace and kindness and understanding. Take a little extra time with a fellow human being. Let them know they are worthy and valued. This is a battle that begins in the brain. We can fight this, but we have to intentionally raise the value of a human life regardless of circumstance, service, or payoff.
This is just the beginning. No worldwide issue is simple to solve. This is certainly not the final answer, but let’s begin the process of eliminating the social climate which allows human trafficking. Let’s replace it with one of peace, justice, and respect for the human life, the entire human existence.
Post originally written by Hannah Layne Maselli
Human Trafficking Victim Organizations
- Wings Of Refuge
- Youth Emergency Services and Shelter
- Chrysalis After School Program
- Iowa Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General
- Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking
- Teens Against Human Trafficking