Sometimes I feel as though we are ignorant to the misgivings that happen in our society — and the area we live. If one were to ask, what’s one of the fastest growing crimes in our area, what would your response be?
Some would answer, “Um, people wearing those ugly flats with that dress.”
Others would say something generic such as an increase in organized crime, more stealing of credit card information or even pickpocketing late at night in downtown Youngstown — wow that surprises me. Not.
Why don’t we care enough to know about the big stuff?
Ignorance. We are drawn to the sexy news, the stuff that we read on BuzzFeed. From Beyoncé supposedly faking a pregnancy for money to the myriad of Kim Kardashian’s ugly cry-face, we lose what we should focus on — the tragic tales of real life.
Recently, I came across an article shared on Facebook about a huge reality seeping into society, apparently right under our noses. One of the most economically prosperous — and illegal — businesses is the industry of human trafficking. It is defined as the trading of human beings, usually for sexual or labor purposes, in exchange for money, goods or services. It is a violation of human rights and judged at an international level.
Going deep into how much this multi-billion-dollar industry actually brings in, Jeremy Haken estimated — in his June 2011 Global Financial Integrity article titled “Transnational Crime in the Developing World” — that “human trafficking represents an estimated $31.6 billion in international trade per annum in 2010.”
Another report by Louise Shelley published in July 2010 by Cambridge University Press, “Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective,” said that human trafficking is one of the fastest growing activities of “transnational criminal organizations.”
What does any of this mean for us, though?
On humantrafficking.ohio.gov, it is reported, “each year an estimated 1,078 Ohio children become victims and 3,016 more are at-risk [from human trafficking].”
Ohio has even begun to enact laws further protecting victims and even going as far as allowing them to sue, on top of the criminal charges, for damages in civil court.
That may come as a shock to a lot of people. The Mahoning Valley is known for crime, but not that kind of crime. Usually when people hear about human trafficking, they think of shady villages in darker parts of the world.
That is a stereotype that is quickly falling apart.
Our corner of the U.S. is particularly rampant with trafficking due to I-80 running through the center of town. Cargo transportation is heaviest along major highways, and this is no different for traffickers transporting their victims.
The problem is so prolific that an entire organization exists to combat trafficking here in the Valley. The North East Ohio Coalition on Rescue and Restore works to identify trafficking red flags around the Valley and raise awareness of the crime for local citizens. The group operates as a part of the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative.
Judging by the majority of laws, both state and federal, put into place over the last five years to combat the practice, it is safe to say that the stench of this filthy crime is permeating our society. One of the most important things to remember from all of these shocking facts about a crime most of us didn’t even know was going on is to be slapped with the fact that these sickos are out there and there is a bigger crime than wearing navy blue with black.
I’m not saying I haven’t fallen victim to scrolling through celebrity news — I am the first to send my friends links to the dumbest celebrity quotes or inspirational words of wisdom from those that have clearly messed up their lives more than myself — I’m merely saying that the challenge of being aware of something so shockingly terrible isn’t necessarily the worst thing to succumb to.