There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history. There are over 30 million slaves in the world that are being taken advantage of daily. As startling as this fact is, most people in our society are blind to the fact that human trafficking occurs all around them. The horrible injustice of slavery is kept in demand by people who hire prostitutes, or even buy goods that have been made in sweat shops. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking “involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them” (unodc.org).
The growing ease of conducting business over international borders has facilitated the growth of the trafficking industry, and has lead it to become the third largest crime industry in the world behind drugs and firearms. Additionally, trafficking is growing at an unprecedented rate, and has become the fastest growing crime industry in the world (notforsale.org). All of these facts make one wonder what is being done to stop such horrific injustice? Although human trafficking is outlawed in th United States, the enforcement of anti-trafficking laws is extremely poor. There are approximately 14,500 people trafficked into the United States annually because our laws are ineffective and inconsistent.
There is a huge discrepency with human trafficking penalties between the federal level and the state level. In 2000 the Trafficking Victims Protections Act was passed in the United States. While this law does carry stiff penalties, prosecuters often have to rely on state laws to crack down on trafficking. This is a huge problem because 41 states have still failed to adopt stong penalties against human trafficking. Thoreau would be deeply disapponted with this fact. Americans are standing by while their fellow citizens are forced into slavery. Thoreau believes, individuals are responsible for the injustices that they participate in. He says, “it is man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eratication of any, even the most enormous wrong” (Thoreau 71). By not forcing their state governments to create strict anti-trafficking laws, citizens have the blood of trafficking victims on their hands.
Not only have the intitutions failed, in Thoreu’s eyes, the American public has failed. By allowing this modern day slavery to continue in our nation, Americans are facilitating the injustice of slavery. Most citizens aren’t doing anything effective to end modern slavery. Thoreau said, “a wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority” (Thoreau 69, 70). Human trafficking will never be stopped if citizens aren’t actively trying to abolish it.
We must combat this modern day slavery. But how do we do that? First and foremost, we need to make sure that people are educated. Many Americans facilitate human trafficking because they are not aware that it occurs in the United States. It is also imporatant that educate the people, especially women and children, who are vulnerable to human trafficking, so that they are able to defend themselves against it. Once people are educated they must demand stronger laws against human trafficking. If changes ar made on the systematic level we will be one step closer to ending modern day slavery.