By Lisa Ekhed
“Human trafficking; the illegal practice of procuring or trading in human beings for the purpose of prostitution, forced labor, or other forms of exploitation.” – Dictionary.com
Have you, a teenage boy or girl ever been stuck in traffic? Whining about how slow everything is moving and then started wondering about what is going on outside of your privileged world? You are sitting comfortably in your car or on the school bus with music blasting from your earphones and air conditioning gently fanning you. Yet you have no idea about what is going on outside of the car window. They are victims and they don’t have any of this. Approximately 40 million of them are out there out of the “7.442 billion” people on Earth.
Lives, of those children, teens and adults are unwillingly being stripped away from them and instead are forced into the black market. Teens and children are suffering, going through things that we cannot imagine. Unlike you and me, that have the advantage of exploring the world, their travel destinations aren’t their dream vacations. Instead a haunted, dark and mysterious universe with limited contact to the outside world. In various countries such as China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Libya and Sudan, minors are sold with the promise of a ‘better life,’ or to feed the rest of their family. Other adolescent are married away to men and women decades older than themselves, in turn for a small profit. They are being hijacked and sold like jewelry. Millions upon millions of unimpeachable lives are forced into a gloomy business that they can’t imagine even in their worst nightmares, making it our responsibility as young citizens to help this come to an immediate halt.
Picture yourself without your phone, not being online and not being able to communicate with whoever you want. I know that you would have struggled. However, not even close to the equivalent struggle as the victims of trafficking.
There is still hope. People have left marks, influenced victims lives just like we can. Last year, a flight attendant, Shelia Fedrick, employed on Alaska Airlines, spotted a young teenage girl who she described “looked like she had been through pure hell”. Despite that she was unable to directly communicate with her, she enabled the victim to write a note for help. When Fedrick came across the note she discreetly informed the captain and the rest of the crew, who informed the police who welcomed them by the gate upon arrival.
“The girl is now attending college, and has stayed in touch with Ms Fedrick.”
This isn’t only an inspiring story but it also acknowledges that we are the shining stars they have been looking up upon. We are hope for the victims. These young individuals, shouldn’t spend their childhood locked up or thrown into the sewers of prostitution. Just like you and me, they need an education, a family, and by informing people, a dream of finding freedom for the victims, might one day come true. We are the once deciding how we want our future world to look like, since we are the future.
Have you considered the possibility of a jailbird sitting next to you on the bus? Or a trafficker sitting on the opposite aisle of the plane to your dream vacation?
Innocent children are stripped away from their families. Their childhood, homes and freedom lost. This needs to come to an immediate closure. People aren’t objects with black and white price tags on them, that can be robbed or sold. Wake. Up. They are humans, they deserve their rights, their own freedom, and this needs to be spread throughout the world. So that we can prevent these heinous crimes from happening. Because they are one of us.
We are not objects. We don’t wear price tags. We are not for sale.
- Dailymail.com, Karen Ruiz For. “Hero Flight Attendant Rescues Teen from Human Trafficker by Leaving a Secret Note for Her on Alaska Airlines Bathroom Mirror .” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 6 Feb. 2017, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4194128/Flight-attendant-saves-girl-human-trafficking.html.
- “Earth / Population.” Google Search, Google, 0AD, www.google.com/search?q=how%2Bmany%2Bpeople%2Bare%2Bthere%2Bin%2Bthe%2Bworld&oq=how%2Bmany%2Bpeople%2Bare%2Bthere%2B&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.4367j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8.
- “Flight Attendant Shares Story of Saving Trafficking Victim.” CNN, CNN, 6 Feb. 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38880612.
- “Human Trafficking.” Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, 2018, www.dictionary.com/browse/human-trafficking.
- Khazan, Olga. “A Fascinating Map of the Worst Countries for Modern Slavery.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 20 June 2013, www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/06/a-fascinating-map-of-the-worst-countries-for-modern-slavery/277037/.
- Mzezewa, Tariro. “Homeless Youth at High Risk of Human Trafficking.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Apr. 2017, kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/04/17/homeless-youth-at-high-risk-of-human-trafficking/.
- “Somethings Not Right Here Stock Photo.” Royalty Free Human Trafficking Pictures, Images and Stock Photos, IStock, 20 Mar. 2015, www.istockphoto.com/my/photos/human-trafficking?excludenudity=true&sort=mostpopular&mediatype=photography&phrase=human%2Btrafficking.
- Tutton, Mark. “40 Million Slaves in the World, Finds New Report.” CNN, Cable News Network, 20 Sept. 2017, edition.cnn.com/2017/09/19/world/global-slavery-estimates-ilo/index.html.