Land of the Free?

For one of my classes this semester, I am supposed to write an editorial and send it in to a newspaper to see if it gets published. My guidelines for this assignment are to write about something I am passionate about and to motivate people to do something about it. During my time as a student of Political Science at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, I’ve been researching human trafficking. Through this research, I’ve discovered that this is an issue that many people know nothing about. Because of this, I decided to write an editorial about human trafficking.

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Flag of the United States of America, backlit,...

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

In the United States of America, the land of the free, many people believe that all are, indeed, free. However, this is not true – slavery still exists. Although the abolition of slavery happened over a century ago in America, slavery is still a common occurrence today. Human trafficking, or modern-day slavery, is the trading of children, women, and men for the use of forced labor, sexual exploitation, or other forms of oppression and exploitation.

Many Americans believe that this only happens in developing countries; however, human trafficking is an issue that is widespread in our very own country. According to a study from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, each year there are 50,000 women and children who are trafficked into the United States; most of whom are sexually exploited. This figure does not include the number of victims who are actually from the United States.

So what does this mean for the average Joe or Jane living in America?

This means that our families are at risk; our sisters and brothers, our daughters and sons. And we must do something about it. We cannot become a community, a nation, who sits back and allows such an atrocity to occur. We cannot become a community, a nation, where young girls are being enslaved and forced into the sex industry. We cannot become a community, a nation, where companies force workers to work 80 hour weeks for wages that are illegally low. We cannot become a community, a nation, where slavery is tolerated.

However, this is what we are doing. We know that human trafficking is on the rise in the United States. There have been numerous studies conducted on trafficking that have proven this.

So why is this problem still growing?

This problem is still growing because we are allowing it to happen. We can no longer claim ignorance and pretend like slavery does not exist. Because we have learned that slavery still exists, we must do more to end it. The burden falls on us to take action and no longer tolerate slavery in our society. We cannot sit back and silence and allow traffickers free reign.

We must act.

Currently, there is a bill being debated in Congress called the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which aims to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute those who enslave men, women, and children. By contacting our senators and asking them to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S 13011), we can play a role in ending slavery. You can visit International Justice Mission‘s website  to learn more about this bill and what you can do to help combat human trafficking. Also, you can read the related articles below to learn more about human trafficking.

Remember, even in America, the land of the free, slavery still exists. It is up to us to do something about it.

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