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BC’s Tales of the Pacific | Human traffickers close a gap

DO you get the feeling that human traffickers are always several steps ahead of the law?

You are right. By constantly changing their tactics, traffickers continue to operate the world over, often leaving police and lawmakers foolishly chasing ghosts.

Now traffickers have adjusted once again, closing key gaps and covering weaknesses in their pipeline to human bondage. From recruitment to slavery, transportation has always been the riskiest part the process, the time of greatest vulnerability when they are likely to be detected and their victims’ greatest opportunity for escape. Traffickers have closed that gap.

A newly released study finds that 77 percent of trafficking victims now remain in their country of origin. With little or no transportation, costs are lowered and the risk of being detected is virtually eliminated. Why risk bringing a Filipina into the United States, where you would have to pass several layers of inspection and law enforcement, when you could simply abduct one already living in the country? There are enough Mexican migrant workers living in the United States already, there is virtually no need to risk crossing the border with new workers. Simply take ones already here. Is brothel demand for Russian girls up? There are plenty to be found on the streets of domestic cities.

The best part, from the trafficker’s point of view, is that by abducting an illegal immigrant, no one is looking for them. No one knows they are even missing because they are invisible in the first place. The very anonymity they seek makes them extremely vulnerable to slave traders.

This ominous development in trafficking deals a blow to law enforcement, who had always counted on fighting traffickers at the airports, train stations and ports.

But the problem is bigger than that. National governments have always defined trafficking as the transnational movement of people against their will or by deceptive means. Their very legal definitions often mean that those who force workers into the sex industry, manufacturing or agriculture in their own country are not subject to trafficking laws at all. And they know it.

The fact is that many governments are reluctant to address human trafficking within their borders because it is difficult to detect and even harder to prosecute. So why admit to a problem about which little can be done? Reclassifying domestic slavery as trafficking, which would enable anti-trafficking laws to be applied, would make the country look bad so legislators turn a blind eye.

Matters are made worse by common misperceptions about the nature of modern slavery. For decades, this subject has suffered from a gender bias against males, inflamed by the growing hostility of the feminist movement. When people hear the term sex trafficking, they automatically think of innocent young girls being violently abducted and forced into slimy brothels in urban areas by odious males. But the fastest growing category of sex trafficking victims is boys. Try bringing that up at the next NOW convention and see what kind of reception you get. Or the next time you attend a corporate meeting at Gillette you may spotlight the fact that a depressingly large number of sex traffickers are women.

A war is being waged between civilization and human traffickers. Who do you think is winning? Who do you think the traffickers would say is winning?

BC Cook, PhD taught history for over 20 years. He lived on Saipan and travels the Pacific but currently lives on the mainland U.S.