Lee Krueger, marketing director with Hope Haven in Baldwin County, recently spoke to Mrs. Major’s Leadership classes about human trafficking. Ms. Krueger has a degree in education and 14 years of administrative and public relations experience. She has studied the effects of human trafficking and pornography, and she speaks to raise awareness about these issues.
Many people think that slavery ended with abolition in the 19th century, yet modern-day slavery is a harsh reality for millions of people worldwide who find themselves trapped in an exploitative and abusive system, bought and sold like objects, and treated with no dignity or human decency.
Slavery still continues today in one form or another in every country in the world. All forms of modern-day slavery share some common characteristics. People are forced to work, and they are owned or controlled by another person. They are regularly dehumanized and treated as commodities, plus they are physically or psychologically constrained and thus unable to escape.
Forms of modern slavery can include:
- children and adults forced to work in agriculture
- domestic work
- factories and sweatshops producing goods for global supply chains
- entire families forced to work for nothing to pay off generational debts
- girls forced to marry older men
- women forced into prostitution
Ms. Krueger discussed how bonded labor is the most widely used method of enslaving people around the world, which is how many trafficking victims wind up in Baldwin County. A person becomes a bonded laborer when work is demanded as a means of repayment. The person is then tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay, often for seven days a week.
Ms. Krueger explained how debts play a part in human trafficking. People who are offered a “job” abroad often have to borrow big sums of money to pay the traffickers to cover the costs of their journey plus a fee for finding a job. When they arrive at the destination, it turns out that the promised job doesn’t exist, and they cannot leave until the debt is paid off. This often goes together with the threats against the victims’ family back at home.
These slave laborers are forced to work to repay debts their employer says they owe, and they are not allowed to work for anyone else. Various forms of force are used to make sure they stay. Workers are kept under surveillance and often under lock and key. Poverty and the threats of violence force many bonded laborers to stay with their masters, since they would not otherwise be able to eat or have a place to sleep.
The website Eqalitynow.com offers some staggering statistics.
Trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. And this is despite the fact that international law and the laws of 134 individual countries have made sex trafficking a criminal offense.
- At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor.
- About 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade.
- Almost 6 in 10 identified trafficking survivors were trafficked for sexual exploitation.
- Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
- Seventy-nine percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls.
- Seventy-nine percent of the victims of trafficking end up in sex slavery.
Sex trafficking is caused by gender inequality that allows the demand for sex slaves to flourish—the belief that there is no harm to purchasing the bodies of women and girls. In order to end sexual slavery, people are raising awareness, assisting victims, preventing slavery from happening in the first place, and advocating for better laws and enforcement.
Sex trafficking is a human rights violation
Eqalitynow.com states that sex trafficking – whether within a country or across national borders – violates basic human rights, including the rights to bodily integrity, equality, dignity, health, security, and freedom from violence and torture.
Key international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), consider sex trafficking a form of sex discrimination and a human rights violation.
Eqalitynow.com reports that survivors of sex trafficking describe stories of daily degradation of mind and body. They are often isolated, intimidated, sold into debt bondage and subjected to physical and sexual assault by their traffickers. Most live under constant mental and physical threats.
Many victims suffer severe emotional trauma, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and disassociation. They are at greater risk of contracting sexually transmissible infections, including HIV/AIDS. Many become pregnant and are forced to undergo often unsafe abortions.
Ms. Krueger said that many girls are gang raped for weeks before they will submit and become sex slaves. Their families and friends are threatened with harm. She indicated that pimps do not value girls, they are simply a financial commodity to them, a way to make money.
She explained how Hope Haven is dedicated to working in many areas of helping victims in Baldwin County.
Hope Haven: Mission Statement
In recognizing the worth and dignity of victims of human trafficking, Hope Haven seeks to minister to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs through love, action and truth as revealed in God’s Word.
Hope Haven: Vision
Provide victims of human trafficking the opportunity to hope and to know they have self-worth. They do this by showing them the love of Christ in ways they can see, touch and feel.
Hope Haven: Program
Hope Haven offers immediate shelter to victims of human trafficking. Residents are provided food, clothing and a safe secure home in which to live. They also offer spiritual and emotional counseling as well as physical exams as needed.
Hope Haven has a group of mentors that help their residents navigate the journey from victim to survivor.
Human Trafficking: Fact Sheet
When people in the United States think of human trafficking, it can seem like a distant problem that has little relation to our lives. Trafficking is a growing problem in the United States, too, and it more widespread than one would think.
These are some startling facts and figures about human trafficking:
The human trafficking industry earns more than $32.6 billion per year.
Human trafficking is an estimated $10 billion industry in America.
The average age of entry into human trafficking for girls and boys ranges from 11-14 hears old.
The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age.
An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.
95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking.
77% of adult prostitutes were trafficked into the trade as children.
2.5 million people globally are victims of human trafficking at any one time – 80% of the are sexual slaves.
43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitations, of whom 98% are women and girls.
32% of victims are used for forced economic exploitations, of whom 56% are women and girls.
After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today, and it is the fastest growing.
Within the first 48 hours of being on the street, 1 in 3 children are lured into commercial exploitation.
It is estimated that there are between 100,000 and 300,000 child victims of human trafficking in the U.S. alone.
An estimated 27 million people in bondage world-wide.
Eight in 10 human trafficking cases involve the sex industry, the others involve labor trafficking.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hot line gets 1,000 calls a month about suspected trafficking victims.
Traffickers recruit at locations that commonly attract youth, like schools, malls, parks, even protective shelters and group homes.
Hope Haven: 7 Common Myths and Misconceptions about Human Trafficking in the U.S.
1. Under the Federal definition, trafficked persons can only be foreign nationals or are only immigrants from other countries.
Reality: The Federal definition of human trafficking includes both US citizens and foreign nations. Human trafficking encompasses both transnational trafficking that crosses borders and domestic or internal trafficking that occurs within a country.
2. Human Trafficking only occurs in illegal underground industries.
Reality: Elements of human trafficking can occur in the commercial sex industry as well as in situations of force labor services. Human trafficking encompasses both “sex trafficking” and “labor trafficking,” and can affect men and women, children and youth.
3. Human trafficking is another word for human smuggling.
Reality: There are many fundamental differences between the crimes of human trafficking and human smuggling. Both are entirely separate Federal crimes in the United States. Most notably, smuggling is a crime against country’s borders, whereas human trafficking is a crime against a person. Also, while smuggling requires illegal border crossing, human trafficking involves commercial sex acts or labor or services that are induced through force, fraud, or coercion regardless or whatever or not transportation occurs.
4. There must be elements of physical restraint, physical force, or physical bondage when identifying a trafficking situation.
Reality: The legal definition of trafficking does not require physical restraint, bodily harm, or physical force.Psychological means of control, such as threats, or abuse of the legal process, are sufficient elements of the crime.
5. Victims of trafficking will immediately ask for help or assistance and will self identify as a victim of crime.
Reality: Victims of trafficking often do not immediately seek help or self-identity as victims of a crime due to lack of trust, self blame, or training by traffickers.
6. Trafficking victims always come from situations of poverty or from small rural villages.
Reality: Although poverty is highly correlated with human trafficking because it is often an indicator of vulnerability, poverty alone is not a single causal factor or universal indicator of a human trafficking victim.
7. Sex trafficking is the only form of human trafficking.
Reality: Elements of human trafficking can occur in the commercial sex industry as well as in situations of forced labor or services.
How can you tell if a friend or acquaintance is involved in the sex traffic trade?
- they isolate themselves
- they have new jewelry, purses, and clothes they can’t afford with a minimum wage job
- they ask you to lie for them
- they may have a new tattoo they don’t want to show you
Hope Haven: How Can You Help?
- Pray for the victims
- Pray for the perpetrators
- Pray for Hope Haven’s staff
- Invite Hope Haven to speak at your church or organization
- Visit Polaris Project and/or Shared Hope on the internet
- Mentor Program
- Ambassador Team
- Awareness Program
- Cell Phone minutes
- Gift Cards
- Financial Gifts
- Adopt Hope Haven for a month
Hope Haven: Contact Us
Phone: (251) 281-8467
Fax: (251) 988-8034
Address: PO Box 906, Summerdale, Al, 36580
We really appreciate Ms. Lee Krueger and Hope Haven for the valuable information.
To read more of Mrs. Major’s Leadership articles, use these links.
Amanda Major is a freshman Leadership and English teacher at Foley High School, plus the Foley Lion’s Roar faculty sponsor. When she is researching material to help freshman survive being freshman, she takes long walks with her kids and pretends to clean her house. Even though her husband wishes she would cook more often, which means anything at all, she also writes Disney World travel articles on her website Cheapskate Princess.
As always, make good choices…