Sexual Consent and Awareness Week: Sex Trafficking

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In light of the University’s sexual consent and awareness week, it is important to raise the issue of dire circumstances where consent is simply not an option for so many women and children who are forced into the sex trade. A trade that is so much more common than you might think, with more slaves in the world today than there have ever been in human history.

Human trafficking is the transportation and exploitation of human beings for profit, and the sex trade is one of the biggest forms of human trafficking. It is one of the largest growing criminal activities, with an estimated 63,251 victims detected in 106 countries and territories between 2012 and 2014, yet due to the secrecy of the undercover trade, so many more go undiscovered and die at the hands of their rapists and owners, with the perpetrators never being found. If the perpetrator is found, unfortunately it is not uncommon due to the laws of the land and the infrastructure of the judicial system in certain countries, that they are able to escape without punishment.

Ashton Kutcher, actor and co-founder of the anti-trafficking charity; Thorn, recently made an emotional speech at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington DC, stressing the importance of ending this trade by using technology to try and further investigate content being uploaded onto the dark web, and also how to protect the safety of vulnerable refugees which may be more susceptible to human trafficking. Kutcher and his committee members all wore red “X” pins, a symbol to try and raise awareness of modern slavery.

Young women and girls as young as 6 years old are kidnapped, drugged, tricked or even sold by family members for money into the sex trade. They are given a new identity, subjected to hideous and isolated living conditions, constant physical, sexual and verbal abuse and continuously transported across the globe by their traffickers to avoid detection. It is an evil and cunning trade that governments must keep up with in order to save lives. In reference to the new software tool ‘Spotlight’ Kutcher said:

“It’s working. In six months, with 25% of our users reporting, we’ve identified over 6,000 trafficking victims, 2,000 of which are minors. This tool has enhanced 4,000 law enforcement officials in 900 agencies. And we’re reducing the investigation time by 60%,”

Many news reports of examples of human trafficking are coming to light. Recently a flight attendant from Alaska Airlines, Shelia Fedrick, was able to use her knowledge and training to help a suspected human trafficking victim on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco. The training encourages crew to look for people who appear frightened, ashamed or nervous, for people travelling with someone who doesn’t appear to be a parent or relative and children or adults who appear bruised or battered. She alerted the pilot, who then called the authorities who were already waiting to question the suspect on the ground, when the plane landed at their destination.

It is so important to raise awareness of human trafficking and encourage people to be on the lookout for potential signs, or to donate to various anti-trafficking charities as it could help save a life, and put a stop to this devastating trade.

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BA English Student and Features Editor 2016-17

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