Supply and Demand: Human Trafficking

Supply and Demand: Human Trafficking

By: Abigail Domingo

As of 2017, an estimated 21 million people are victims of human trafficking. This criminal industry is built on the pain and suffering of victims, where traffickers and buyers reap the benefits. This isn’t 1854; it’s 2017 and humans are seen as nothing but a commodity– this is modern day slavery. The solution seems simple– find the perpetrators and set them behind bars, but the root of the problem is more complex than one solution. The supply and demand for human trafficking break down into three categories:

1.The cheaper the better
2.Low-risk, High-reward
3.Sex Sells

The Cheaper the Better
No one likes to spend more money than necessary,  so cutting corners to save a couple of dollars never hurts anybody, right? Wrong, not when being cheap is at the price of someone else. An estimated 68% of human trafficking victims are forced labor victims. Often people forget that cheap came at the high cost of someone’s freedom. Many of the victims are seen as easy targets because of poverty, immigration status, inequality, or racial background. Businesses competing with low wages of developing countries contribute to the demand for cheap labor. Victims of slave labor are forced or coerced to work in unsafe conditions for long hours and see little to no pay. The employers either keep defying the law or there is no law for basic human rights. On a global scale, more countries are imposing laws to protect workers and keep children out of hard labor, in order to reduce the problem.

Low-Risk, High- Reward
    However, the reason most people join the human trafficking trade is the lack of punishment and consequence. While new policies and legislation are proposed to combat human trafficking, the risk of prosecution is low. Even if the case is brought to trial many victims fear testifying for fear of retaliation from their former captor, or some victims are seen as criminals. The fear and distrust of the law are also to blame for a low number of prosecuted cases. Criminals go free and contribute even more to a 32 billion dollar industry. People want money, they are driven by it, and human trafficking supplies the demand for money. Human rights activist Sister Pat Daly spoke on supply and demand, “This is all about supply and demand,” she said. “If no one was looking for cheap products, there would not be a demand for cheap labor. There is a direct correlation between human trafficking and unchecked consumerism. Or you can say unchecked business practices.”

Sex Sells
Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry behind the drug trade. The reason is that humans are reusable, drugs are not. Women and children are stripped of self-worth and power for the joy of another. Pimps and traffickers create the demand for sex, just as much as buyers do. The growing demand for sex is what keeps the trade going. If there were no johns, then sex trafficking victims wouldn’t be needed.  The rule is simple: no demand, no supply. Humans buying humans for the purpose of sex is a heinous act that occurs with repeat offenders. A study by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that “76% of sex buyers want to stop, and that sex buying is a symptom of other emotional or mental issues.”  This study hoped that rehabilitation for buyers would help combat the problem, but this isn’t validation for people who buy sex.

Human trafficking isn’t stopped with a few new policies and laws, it stops when people aren’t complicit. Educating members of society on the dangers and signs of human trafficking can help combat the problem. Fighting for justice for victims, and ensuring that victims aren’t seen as criminals stops the problem. Anyone can be an activist if they become aware and participate in the destruction in the greedy and vile system that is human trafficking.

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