By Anna Cofrancesco
Program Manager, Honors College
Each human being has certain aspirations in life and the road to such aspirations varies from person-to-person. People attend school, enroll and graduate from college to gain education, land their first job, get married and build a family and many realize their potential and live fulfilling and prosperous lives. However, this ideal path to a fulfilling and happy life is not the reality for many human beings who become victims of the horrendous and dehumanizing crime of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is also known as modern-day slavery, which is usually manifested in two major forms – labor trafficking and sex trafficking – and is operated with the use of three essential components – force, fraud and coercion to compel an individual against his or her will (Department of Homeland Security, 2019). Many might think that slavery does not exist anymore and that such a phenomenon was only a reality during the 17th and 18th centuries. However, unfortunately, it is a harsh and dark reality for many people.
One significant difference is that this crime takes more inconspicuous forms such as psychological manipulation and fraudulent enticement. Various sources provide different estimates on how many individuals are currently exploited around the globe. Some even contend that this number reached 25 million people, generating billions of dollars in profit at the expense of people’s freedom (Polaris, 2019).
There are many myths surrounding the phenomenon of human trafficking, among which is a belief that this crime exists overseas and in poverty-stricken nations. Even though the latter is correct in most cases, research asserts that human trafficking also operates in every single state in the United States (Polaris, 2019). Cantinas, gentlemen’s clubs, night clubs, factories, farms, nail salons, massage parlors, hotels, resorts, motels, truck rest areas, restaurants, fast food chains and private households are among many places where an individual can live in captivity and be stripped of his or her freedom, human dignity and fundamental human respect.
When people gain knowledge about this colossal issue, they rightfully become disappointed, appalled and angry at the existence of such inhumane and despicable treatment of human beings. The good news is that the world is becoming more cognizant of this fast-growing crime and ramifications it leaves behind on individuals, communities and nations overall. In the past few decades, there has been more movement in the United Nations arena with a variety of policies and initiatives taking flight such as the three Palermo protocols, GLOACT (Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants), ICAT (The Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons) and many more initiatives akin to those.
The GCU Honors College has also taken important strides toward bringing attention to this endemic, one of which is the vision trip to Cambodia and Thailand where students get to discover the truth about child sex trafficking and experience the transaction firsthand. This trip is planned and executed in partnership with Destiny Rescue, which is an international, non-profit organization committed to liberating children from the global sex trade (Destiny Rescue, 2019).
The trip includes visits to various Destiny Rescue projects, safe houses where girls reside after being rescued, red light districts, as well as cultural spots such as the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum. As my co-worker and friend Luke Amargo said: “You pay money to get your hearts broken, so you can have a greater impact and compassion to the world around you.” Continuing with that serious thought, the trip opens travelers’ eyes to something heart-wrenching, yet at the same time beautiful and fulfilling because it equips travelers with a stronger and more international mindset, resilience, patience and tools to become change agents.
As change agents, individuals will be ignited to get involved in the fight against this crime, will be able to recognize the signs of human trafficking better and ensure that justice, freedom and pursuit of happiness are something that each human being has in order to fulfill their potential and lead a prosperous life.
To learn more about how you can join a community of likeminded honors students in making change in the world, visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.