January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
The Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition mission is to address African American disparities in education, employment, housing and health by working to educate, advocate for and empower the community. As an important part of this mandate we must bring awareness to the plight of black women and girls that are trapped in a cycle of abuse that threatens their well being and leads many to an endless cycle of abuse and despair. We the NEOBHC understands that exploitation, smuggling, and the prostitiution of our most vulnerable women and girls warrants our attention not only in January but year round.
Definition of Human Trafficking
According to the FBI, Human trafficking, believed to be the third-largest criminal activity in the world, is a form of human slavery that must be addressed at the interagency level. Human trafficking includes forced labor, domestic servitude, and commercial sex trafficking. It involves both U.S. citizens and foreigners alike, and has no demographic restrictions. The FBI works human trafficking cases under its Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking program. The majority of human trafficking victims in our cases are U.S. citizens, and we take a victim-centered approach in investigating such cases, which means working to address the victim's needs first.
Overview of the Problem Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Here in this country, people are being bought, sold, and smuggled like modern-day slaves, often beaten, starved, and forced to work as prostitutes or to take jobs as migrant, domestic, restaurant, or factory workers with little or no pay. Human trafficking is a heinous crime that exploits the most vulnerable in society. Under the HumanTrafficking program, the Bureau investigates:
Sex Trafficking: When persons, both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, are compelled to engage in commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Sex trafficking of a minor occurs when the victim is under the age of 18. For these cases it is not necessary to prove force, fraud, or coercion.
Labor Trafficking: When persons, both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, are compelled to perform labor or services through the use of force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint; serious harm or threats of serious harm; abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process; or coercion.
Magnitude of African American Trafficking in the United States
According to the FBI more than 40% of victims of human trafficking are African American. Our women and girls are more likely to be victimized due to a number of reasons including poverty, former foster care residents, abuse as children, living in urban areas, mental health and substance abuse. The statistics are overwhelming, 62% of human trafficking suspects are African American; 52% of juvenile prostitution arrests are African Americans between 12-14 years old. Human trafficking is not only a domestic but a global problem that involves forced labor, domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation. Many victims are reluctant to seek help for various reasons including fear of traffickers, fear of law enforcement and fear of being believed. Part of the apprehension is found in the societal response including that of the police and media particularly the bias associated with the limited spotlight on missing women of color. Former President Barack Obama hoped to bridge that divide and shed light on an issue that has become a national crisis by declaring January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in 2010.
The Northeast Ohio Black Health Coaliton will continue to advocate for the reportiedly more than 7,572 human trafficking cases and 5,551 sexual trafficking cases that are tracked through the National Human Trafficking Hotline. We will alert African American women to the dangers and grim reality that young people face in the 21st Century as criminals use the internet and social media to recruit and advertise as a way to exploit and entrap women seeking jobs, friends and relationships. We will continue our crusade to raise awareness for the states that rank 1st-4th in human trafficking including Texas, California, New York, Florida and Ohio and enusre that modern day slavery all over the world and the sexual exploitation of black women ceases. If you suspect that an individual is a victim of sex trafficking please contact the local police or call the tipline of the National Center for Missing and Expolited Childten (NCMEC) 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST. Together we can save women and girls from a lifetime of abuse by:
Bringing awareness to the issue of human trafficking
Provide human trafficking inservices for youth that are currently in foster care
Training the police on cultural competency and mental health first aid
Working with the media to bring awareness to the disparities that persist in covering African American missing and exploited women and girls
Fund shelters that are better equipped to handle the trauma associated with trafficking
Provide wrap around counseling and health services to women and girls that have experienced abuse through sexual trafficking