Human trafficking in all its forms (i.e. labor trafficking, domestic servitude and sex trafficking) is a violation of the dignity of the human being. The United Nations reports that the crime impacts over 40 million people around the world with women and children accounting for 71% of all total victims. A more alarming statistic is that one in four human trafficking victims are minors (girls and boys). Human trafficking can take place in any country, state or community, wherever vulnerability is a factor.
Migrants, particularly women and children, are especially vulnerable to human trafficking due to their migrant status while also confronting attitudes and actions of exploitation, discrimination, xenophobia or hypersexualized stereotypes placing them at risk of abuse and violence. Abuse can often manifest itself in emotional and psychological ways, making it more difficult to identify a victim.
Elements in the culture within society, such as indifference, play a significant role in enabling human trafficking to occur as well as hiding it in plain sight.
How can we serve and act more like a good Samaritan welcoming and drawing close to those around us in vulnerable situations, such as migrants and refugees who are often faced with a journey riddled with difficulty, need, pain and lots of sacrifice in search of a dignified life? Do we know their story?
Perhaps we can explore our own attitudes and behaviors to identify ways where we can help provide comfort, protection, integration and support where others can confirm their own dignity and humanity.
Monthly column written for St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tampa, FL