Human Trafficking Panel Reveals New Insight on Age Old Problem

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If you thought slavery was a thing of the past, think again

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            Four distinguished panelists were brought together this evening in Elon University’s LaRose Theater to provide their individual perception of a problem that many people ignore: Human Trafficking.

But don’t forget about slavery, forced labor and smuggling. A list is required because the nomenclature is confusing according to panelist and professor Kevin Bales. In fact, a lot is unclear about this issue that affects approximately 27 million people worldwide. Slavery and human trafficking are largely ignored by a police force that doesn’t know what to look for and without an involved police force there can be no prosecution of traffickers.

Helen Grant of Indiana University Law School and Professor at Elon used graphs and statistics to present information about the few cases of trafficking that have come before the court. “You can’t count what you don’t see,” said Grant after describing a particularly gruesome case involving migrant workers held against their will on a farm in Ft. Myers, FL.

“We are still in the dark about a lot of things,” said Bales. The movement he is so devoted to, called Free the Slaves, has helped reduce the amount of slavery present in the world but according to Bales it’s going to take “intellectuals like you” to really eradicate it completely.

Intellect was a key point for court mediator Tony Williams as he stressed the need to find the true victims. Ito understand human trafficking it is important not to “undermine actual victims by spreading the veil of trafficking too broadly” according to Williams. Defining a victim of human trafficking can include many forms of abuse, which is why education on the different types of human trafficking is a vital step for the future of this movement.

Defining a victim is even harder overseas according to panelist Dr. Richard Smith who researches night clubs in the Philippines. These women put themselves at the mercy of rich foreigners not because they are being forced to, but because they have goals. Raids in these bars where young girls work are usually unsuccessful because the girls see them as interfering with their life strategies.

The panelists were optimistic about the future of combating human trafficking but they are still calling out for help. The dream of Kevin Bales and everyone else in this movement is simply this: “Instead of trying to make it illegal, we’re trying to eradicate it completely.”

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