Human trafficking: Modern day slavery in the 21st century
Canadian Foreign Policy Journal
Uptown residents welcome the change. “It makes sense to pass more laws considering Chicago’s location,” said Arthur Milner, an attorney and resident of Uptown. “The fact that Chicago is a port city and hub for immigrants makes human trafficking even more of an issue that needs to be addressed.”
Daria Mueller, associate director of policy for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, agreed that human trafficking is an increasing problem in Chicago. She worked with a team to draft the new legislation passed by Governor Quinn. A coalition of advocates and policymakers “came together to brainstorm how to change the current state laws to provide more protection for victims,” Mueller said.
The result was an amendment to the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, Predator Accountability Act and Juvenile Court Act of 1987. The new law expands the definition of “serious harm” to include other forms of coercion, including psychological intimidation or withholding a passport.
“Traffickers may never need to use physical harm to maintain control, but instead may use other types of threats to control their victims,” according to End Demand’s website, a leading organization in fighting human trafficking in Chicago. The law also broadens the term “sex offense” to include involuntary servitude and other crimes including the production of pornography, according to End Demand.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reported that Illinois has the fifth highest number of calls to its hotline. “This shows there is a real problem in this state that needs to be fully addressed,” Mueller said. The new law, House Bill 5278, was sponsored by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago). “The goal of this new law is simple: to give prosecutors a bigger arsenal in the war on those who profit from another human being’s suffering,” Rep. Cassidy said in a statement released by Quinn’s office.
Since 2001, the Illinois legislature has passed multiple pieces of legislation to create more social services and resources for victims of modern-day slavery, according to Mueller. Illinois still lags behind other states such as Washington to protect victims of trafficking, according to the Polaris Project’s 2012 State Ratings Map.
Polaris Project rated all 50 states including the District of Columbia based on their laws to fight human trafficking. Wyoming has yet to pass any legislation. It received the lowest rating of all the states. Approximately 75 percent of the victims are women, and up to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year, according to the Freedom Center. “These people need all the help we can give them,” Milner said. “It’s encouraging that laws are being passed in Illinois and around the nation. It’s about time.”
The U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking reports that modern day slavery impacts “every continent and every type of economy.” From the shoes and clothes that consumers purchase to the food that people consume, human trafficking impacts millions of lives. Each dollar spent buying these products promotes human trafficking and keeps women, children, and men enslaved in forced labor around the world.
The U.N. Global Initiative reports that more than 50% of slavery victims are found in Asia. The State Department contends that in Asia the victims of human trafficking are triple than in other continents. This increase in human trafficking and the products that are developed and shipped from Asia has alarmed advocates around the world. The rate of human trafficking has increased each year, and the economic recession has not decreased the number of slaves worldwide. On the contrary, human trafficking has been continuously inclining as the need for cheap labor has skyrocketed.
Human Trafficking is estimated to generate $32 billion U.S. Dollars each year.
A Coalition of Anti-Human Trafficking Organizations have urged President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to make fighting human trafficking a top priority for the government.
The purpose of Human Trafficking Awareness Month internationally has been to highlight the struggles to fight modern day slavery and the need for greater enforcement of laws in the United States and around the world.
Legal Mechanisms to Combat Human Trafficking in the United States
In 2000, the United States government passed a ground-breaking piece of legislation to combat human trafficking both domestically and internationally. The United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 was the first comprehensive piece of national legislation aimed to increase public awareness nationally and globally, provide funds to help combat the problem around the world while also increasing the punishment and law enforcement capabilities in the United States to deal with this issue.
Under this law, victims became eligible for a broad range of benefits and services regardless of immigration status. While in custody, victims would have access to shelter, medical assistance, legal aid, and translation services to inform them of their rights.
Victims also became eligible for the Witness Protection Program in the U.S. while grants were created to fund non-governmental organizations helping victims of trafficking around the world. An increase in sentencing traffickers up to twenty years was also passed as well as mandatory restitution and asset forfeiture to pay back individuals that traffickers have victimized. This anti-trafficking law also authorized almost $300 million dollars over a two year period for international and national programs to combat human trafficking in 2000 and 2001 alone.
Sadly, this piece of legislation is rare in the international community. The lack of awareness and legal protection has allowed traffickers to proliferate in many areas of the world that have the greatest poverty and political unrest.
For more information and how you can become involved in the fight against human trafficking visit http://usinfo.state.gov/gi/global_issues/human_trafficking.html and www.humantrafficking.org/
[1-3] Center for Global Development, Women and War Event, June 22, 2004, Washington, D.C.; Kevin Bales, Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, University of California Press, 2004.
 United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
 United Nations Children’s Fund, Trafficking in Human Beings Report, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2003.
 Gilbert King, Woman, Child for Sale: The New Slave Trade of the 21st Century,Chamberland Bros. Publishing, 2004.
1. Abolish school fees and invest in girls’ education
2. Invest government funding in gender equality
3. Enact legislation to create a level playing field for women, and to prevent and respond to
domestic violence as well as gender-based violence in conflict
4. Ensure women’s participation in politics
5. Involve women’s grassroots organizations early on in policy development
6. Engage men and boys so the importance of gender equality can be understood by all
7. Improve research and data on gender issues, which are critical if progress is to be made
Millennium Development Goal 3 focuses on promoting gender equality around the world. If this goal is achieved, UNICEF believes its benefits will expand in many other areas from hunger reduction, reducing maternal and child mortality to global health and environmental sustainability.
For more information visit www.unicef.org/sowc07/
UNICEF – For Every Child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection
Every year the United Nations predicts that up to four million new women and children become victims of human trafficking worldwide. Experts predict that 27 million people live in slave like conditions today. This modern day form of slavery not only exists but is flourishing in many sections of the world today. This global epidemic occurs in every country including the United States.
The U.S. State Department estimates that every year over 14,500 women and children are trafficked into the U.S. for illegal purposes that violate their basic human rights.
According to Human Rights Watch “women are typically recruited with promises of good jobs in other countries or provinces, and, lacking better options at home, agree to migrate.”
After reaching their new country or area, they learn of the deception and the “work” they will actually be forced to do. Most have been lied to regarding the conditions of their employment and the actual financial arrangements. They find themselves in abusive situations where they are forced into an underground world of illegal activity where escape is difficult and death is too often the only way out.
The State Department has even warned that children as young as six have been trafficked for illegal purposes and forced into prostitution in Thailand and other Asian countries. These children come from extreme poverty and their parents are deceived into believing that their children will have a better life abroad with the opportunity for a higher education. The hope for a better life turns into the greatest tragedy.
Yet, one of the major factors that has perpetuated this modern day form of slavery is its underground nature. Traffickers have been able to deceive millions and circumvent national and international laws through their underground activity. Campaigns have been started around the world to increase awareness of this global issue and help transition victims of trafficking back into society.
For more information go to www.unicef.org/sowc06/intro.html