Human trafficking is easily understood when viewed through the lens of justice. It is wrong and evil, and that is straightforward and simple. But it seems the more one learns about the issue, the more complex it becomes, like peeling the proverbial onion back, one layer at a time, and discovering there is so much more to understand. It can be frustrating and taxing at moments when viewing the overwhelming beast that it is, but it is imperative to dive into the deep end to effectively combat slavery. There is much emotion and lip service expended on the issue, but these two things are wasted when understanding and action do not accompany them. Likewise, to have only a superficial understanding of human trafficking hurts those who are trapped in it or have recently exited the life, as harmful stereotypes about victims are stated as fact; ineffective legislation is passed that doesn’t change anything; and societal attitudes and behaviors continue to flourish that helped foster the vulnerability and conditions that enslaved people to begin with.
Getting to the Root is a blog series we have created to help expose some of the root causes of human trafficking. We will examine some basic foundational causes like poverty, societal marginalization, racism, classism and sexism, but also look at sociopolitical factors like war, gangs, border insecurity and lack of effective justice systems. For sex trafficking in particular, we will explore objectification and devaluation of females, although certainly racism and classism play their roles here as well, and justify, in some minds, the exploitation of boys, girls and entire ethnic groups based on their lack of social standing. We will discuss demand, not only for commercial sex but also for cheap consumer products, consumerism, pornography, and the breakdown of family stability.
These will not be exhaustive blogs -- after all entire books have been written on each of these topics -- but our hope is that these succinct essays will deepen the reader’s understanding and help us all make further sense of the overlapping and interweaving nature of societal conditions that lend themselves to a trafficker’s playbook. We will also profile an organization or individuals that are addressing these causes and bringing light to a darkened place. At TAT, we firmly believe that for societal problems, there are societal solutions, and, as much as we want to expose the causes, we also want to highlight those helping to arrive at solutions.
We must begin to get to the roots of human trafficking -- both labor and sex -- and that goes beyond just looking at demand to examining the attitudes that allow it a safe haven in our society. We all have a role to play in digging out the roots of this heinous crime. We all have things we need to change in order to stamp it out. At the end of each blog, we will give a handful of practical steps you can personally take to help begin the change.
If human trafficking has grown to such epic levels the world over, it is because society has fed it, watered it, and given it the sunlight and soil needed to grow and spread. If society is truly serious in their outrage towards human trafficking, we can likewise create the conditions that will starve this evil, cut off its sunlight and life-giving soil and dry it up.
We invite you to read the Getting to the Root blog entries and share them with your friends. We invite discussion and encourage you to start these important conversations within your sphere of influence. Our official Getting to the Root blog entries for 2015 will come out on the last weeks of April, August and December.