On January first, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the first step in ending slavery in the United States, which declared all slaves held in Confederate territories free. With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, slavery was abolished in the United States, and in the eyes of many people ended the issue of slavery. Well, slavery has rebranded itself and is in good health, it has a firm empire that stretches throughout all the corners of the globe. Yet, somehow slavery’s empire has remained hidden to the general public. It is an issue that is unique in that there are not many pro-slavery people out there, but since so few people are aware of the issue that progress is not being made fast enough. Sex trafficking is modern day slavery.
In order to eradicate slavery from the world, people need to know how it works in the modern-day world. According to Shared Hope International, “Sex trafficking occurs when someone uses force, fraud or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a commercial sex act.” In order to better understand the definition, it needs to be broken down into its component parts. The force, fraud, or coercion are the methods used by the trafficker or pimp to make the “slave” perform the commercial sex act. A commercial sex act is not only prostitution but also pornography and other sexual favors, done in exchange for any item of value. However, in the context of sex trafficking, the item of value is given to the trafficker or pimp. The final part of the definition makes a mention of minors because often it is minors who are trafficked. In fact, the average age when a child enters sex trafficking is from ages fourteen to sixteen. This evil must be put to a stop.
Not only is sex trafficking an issue in third world countries far away, it is something that takes place right here in the United States in our own backyard. According to the National Human Trafficking hotline, there were 8,525 reported cases of trafficking in 2016, yet it is very difficult to come up with accurate numbers for the total amount of victims due to several cases that go unreported. Pimps and traffickers are smart and use violence, fear, threats, and intimidation to keep their victims submissive. Often due to the lack of awareness, the victims become misidentified and become treated for surface issues such as STDs and drug abuse when they really need freedom. In the past few years, law enforcement and the government have become aware of sex trafficking and are starting to look for ways to combat it. However, a major problem still possessed by most Americans is simply lack of awareness and education. It is hard to fix a considerable problem when most people either don’t know it exists, don’t know the scope of the issue, or believe false stereotypes. Awareness is key to solve the problem of sex trafficking in the U.S.A.
With awareness being the key to help stop sex trafficking, it has opened up a unique opportunity for people wanting to bring change. Often when faced with huge societal problems, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and do nothing, yet with sex trafficking, all people need to do is learn about sex trafficking and then tell others about it. Several charities have already done the dirty work for everyone in taking the complex issue of sex trafficking and breaking it down in to easy to understand graphics and heartfelt documentaries. Normally when people learn about one of society’s dilemmas they feel sympathy, but just go on with their everyday life and don’t do anything. Sex trafficking is practically begging to be stopped with how easy it is to bring change, all you have to do is acknowledge that there is a problem and make sure the people around you are aware of it. While raising awareness will not solve all the problems caused by sex trafficking, people will not be able to solve a problem that they do not know exists.