Sunday, January 30, 2011

Human Trafficking

Throughout history, philosophers, scientists, religious figures and politicians across nations have in one way or another proposed, challenged or supported the idea of basic human rights. Human rights refer to the rights as possessed by someone because he or she is a human being; these are rights that transcend beyond one’s socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, sex, and nationality. However, an examination of the history of human rights reveals that even those who strongly support the establishment and preservation of certain rights that all humans are entitled to, will somehow find a sound reasoning that some populations are sub-human and as such, do not deserve to enjoy the luxury of those basic human rights. This rationalization has fostered the maintenance of slavery not only in the past but also in the contemporary modern world of supposed conveniences and freedom for all.

Even though it might come as a surprise to many, slavery is by no means an issue of the past. Furthermore, today’s slavery is much more nefarious as the new slaves are cheaper and abundant and no restrictions exist when it comes to race and ethnicity. Those disadvantaged are enslaved both within the lines of their own nations and by being trafficked across international borders. Currently, it is estimated that 27 million people are held in some form of slavery. Most slaves are forced to work in agriculture, mining, and prostitution. Often slaves work in factories that feed our global economy, like cocoa, cotton, oriental rugs, diamonds and silk (Free the Slaves).

It is important to realize that sweatshops and other exploitative labor is, although terrible, not slavery. Sweatshop workers and migrant laborers are exploited by being paid very little, forced to work long hours and often abused at their workplace. Slaves are subjected to all these conditions, but additionally, they have lost their free will and they cannot walk away. Most slaves are paid nothing at all, and the physical and psychological violence used against them is so complete that they cannot escape their condition as a slave (Free the Slaves).

The traffic of persons is a serious violation of human rights that denies the right for freedom among people. In a world where news travel with the speed of light and the opportunities to acquire knowledge about any world issue are limitless, it is disappointing and a huge disgrace for such a crime to be allowed to thrive and prosper. With human trafficking people are not merely oppressed; they are denied the right to be human and their existence has been reduced to that of a cheap product that brings its owner revenue and that could easily be disposed of once it is no longer needed or becomes damaged. What is even more frightening is that the traffickers as well as the consumers view the victims as products, without feelings, emotions, and desires. For as long as there is a demand for a product, there will be persons supplying it. Therefore, to successfully approach the issue people need to look at both sides of the transaction: the traffickers as well as the consumers. It must be acknowledged that the only successful solution to the problem is not just reducing the number of people trafficked or increasing support for those granted freedom; the only feasible solution is for the above two to occur while all governments show no tolerance toward organizations involved in human trafficking and unite and mobilize everybody in this universal fight for human rights.


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