Twenty-first Century Slavery

Sex trafficking is the most lucrative form of human trafficking.

Ashley+Jung+%E2%80%9921+has+met+the+coordinators+of+No+Longer+Strangers+and+believes+their+work+is+crucial+in+changing+local+communities+ravaged+by+the+effects+of+the+sex+trafficking+industry.%0A

Hollie Park

Ashley Jung ’21 has met the coordinators of No Longer Strangers and believes their work is crucial in changing local communities ravaged by the effects of the sex trafficking industry.

In the twenty-first century, an era marked by smartphones and self-driving cars, slavery is not yet something of the distant past. Human trafficking is a global issue, affecting those in third, second, and first world countries, and its most lucrative form is sex trafficking. This sub industry alone is among the fastest growing criminal industries in the world, with a net worth of an estimated $150 billion. Its perpetrators profit from the exploitation of victims regardless of age and gender. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of sex trafficking worldwide, a fourth of which are children. 

“It’s so important that they’re doing the work they’re doing now because if it weren’t for them, so many more women would be in dangerand they’re risking their own lives as well,” said Ashley Jung ’21.

The sex trafficking capital of the world isn’t too far from the United States; Tenancingo, Mexico is no more than two hours from Mexico City, and it is the United States’ single largest source of sex slaves.  Of the 3,000 to 5,000 pimps working out of Tenancingo between 2010 and 2013, only 17 were prosecuted—a number that pales in comparison to the crowds of new recruits to the rapidly growing industry. “Many kids [in Tenancingo] aspire to be traffickers,” said Emilio Muñoz Berruecos, who runs a local human rights center in the area, in an interview with the ‘New York Daily News.’ Selling human bodies has become the main source of income for poorer towns like Tenancingo where options are limited and more populated cities like Mexico City, where there are more potential clients.

It is a system that seems impossible to dismantle: less than 0.004 percent of traffickers are ever confronted by the legal system in Mexico and the exploitation of human lives continues unwarranted. “Some of the most powerful Tlaxcala families are believed to collaborate with Mexico’s most feared cartels,” according to ‘The Guardian,’ making it both difficult and dangerous to speak up against prominent traffickers like the Tlaxcala and their rings, which oftentimes can be armed or moved to violence.

Consequently, organizations committed to fighting sex trafficking have directed their efforts to aiding the victims of the sex trafficking industry, who are mostly women and girls. El Pozo de Vida, or The Peace of Life, is an organization based in Mexico City with branches in Venezuela and other Latin American countries working in conjunction with End Slavery Now. Its locally-based mission is geared towards the “prevention, intervention, and restoration of children, families, and communities.” Volunteers reach out to communities on foot to create relationships with victims and offer refuge. They go to red light districts where the sex industry thrives and introduce the workers to a system of safe houses, schools, and work opportunities to guide them onto a stable path.

“It’s so important that they’re doing the work they’re doing now because if it weren’t for them, so many more women would be in dangerand they’re risking their own lives as well,” said Ashley Jung ’21.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email