Human Trafficking: The Underground Slavery of Black Women
Human trafficking is currently estimated to be a $150 billion dollar industry worldwide. Millions of men, women, and children of all races are forced or coerced into labor, marriage, prostitution, and/or organ removal . It is estimated that there are about 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally – 81% are trapped in forced labor, 25% are children, and 75% are women and girls. The post will primarily focus on human trafficking in the US, but it is a global issue impacting all countries worldwide. The goal is to try to raise awareness of this invisible crime that is currently trapping millions of women, men, and children into sexual exploitation.
Sexual exploitation is the primary mechanism for human trafficking in the US. There were 10, 949 reported cases in the US in 2018, of these cases, 72% were forced into sex trafficking, 65% of the victims were women, and 22% were minors. People of color are overwhelmingly the victims of sex trafficking in the US. This is because perpetrators target vulnerable populations such as undocumented persons, runaways, marginalized groups, and the poor. Using these criteria, people of color typically fall into this criterion. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Report 77% of human trafficking victims are people of color, most likely black women and girls.
What are the reasons that black women/girls are being stolen and forced into sexual slavery? As mentioned above, perpetrators target vulnerable communities that are minimal risk and will not cause major alarm. Black youth between 12-19 are more likely to be victims of violent crimes, child abuse, or robbery making them susceptible to manipulation. Traffickers target women (and men) with questionable family networks, runaways, homeless girls, and the foster system. It is estimated that 70% of minors involved in trafficking were in the foster system.
Another reason black women and youth are targeted is the notion of the “good victim.” When cases of sex trafficking are thrown into the media forefront, it’s usually a blue-eyed, blonde girl who was rescued from her oppressors; for example, Amy Smart & Jaycee Duggard were two nationally recognized cases of this. These cases are outliers since; again, most victims are women of color. The racism of the US continues to proliferate this crime as well. Law enforcement typically sees black women as prostitutes or runaways instead of victims. This is another form of racism. Typically, black men kidnap and enslave black women and girls selling them to affluent white men. Therefore, when police encounter these crimes they are more likely to blame the victim and empathize with the white offender .
Yet another reason is the overt bias black women and girls receive from adults through their life span. A study by the Georgetown Law Center showed that as compared to white girls, black girls are perceived as needing less nurturing, less support, less protection and less comfort. Conversely, they are also seen as being more independent, more knowledgeable about sex and adult topics. These pervasive biases help create a pipeline of vulnerable black women and girls that are now victims of a $32 billion industry in the US.
- Is not in control of their own money, financial records, or bank accountIs
- Is not in control of their own identification documents (ID or passport)
- Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
- Shows signs of poor hygiene, malnourishment, and/or fatigue
- Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture.
Top Cities for Sex Trafficking:
To request help or report suspected human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text "help" to BeFree (233733).