By Lilly Wagner
The United States of America abolished slavery in 1865.
France abolished slavery in 1764.
England abolished slavery in 1833.
A girl, who chose to go by the name of Tonya, was a victim of something called human trafficking. She met a man when she was thirteen years old, Eddie, because his step-daughter was in the same class at school. She said there was a ‘mutual connection’ between them, and said how she thought ‘he was cute’. After not seeing each other for a few years, they reconnected at a bar, where Tonya went home with Eddie because she was a runaway and had nowhere else to go at the time. She says it was a normal relationship at first, doing dishes and taking care of his kids. But one day, she tells, that Eddie was pestering her and harassing her to have sex with a man for money, and after minutes of this, she agreed. She thought it would be a one-time thing. It wasn’t. It went on for weeks and weeks, but then she was saved. She was saved from this man and these ‘jobs’.
Human trafficking is a commercial act of exploiting people, typically for commercial sex acts and forced labor. It’s slavery, in a sense that it’s unwanted work for benefit of another person. People’s lives, taken out from under them and ruined all because someone wanted to get dirty money. It happens everywhere, and it happens here for sure, in Malaysia.
Malaysia is a tier two country, meaning that it is doing everything they can to reach the top requirements to help stop human trafficking in their country. Malaysia is making significant efforts in trying to stop human trafficking, however they aren’t doing everything possible just yet. The goal is to become a tier one country, which means that they meet all expectations and are doing everything that they can possibly do to eliminate this problem. In Malaysia, the US Department of State Diplomacy in Action has recommended and put forth suggestions for the country. For example, Malaysia needs to have more of a cooperation aspect between the law enforcement officials and prosecutors. For example, Malaysia hard to put an end to this in their country, and since 2011 they’ve placed 31 new/amended legislations to try and stop this. But why does it still happen, or how does it still happen?
It happens because there are people who want to come into another country. The traffickers do it by finding physiological or emotional vulnerabilities, natural disasters in their countries or political issues. People like Eddie use force and fraud these victims into this. Traffickers find out what these naive and innocent people want most then they deliver. Now it just turns into selling these people and forcing them to earn money for them and don’t let them go. These people, like Tonya, are taken advantage of. Human trafficking is an invisible force, and it generates estimates of billions of dollars, which is second to drug trafficking, in the national crimes category.
Human trafficking, especially in Malaysia, is an extreme issue, and just because they’re a tier two country, that doesn’t mean that the problem has come to a stop just yet. As a normal civilian though, there’s only so much you can do to keep yourself safe and help. A big way though that someone like you could do to help is become apart of anti-trafficking groups and have fundraisers to support said groups. There are so many things that could help victims and survivors just by spreading the word in your community. You should never engage in an interaction, however, with a trafficker because that puts yourself at risk. Stay safe in your community and spread the word. You could help save a girl like Tonya, and put a man like Eddie in jail.
You could save a life.