By Sherri Kolade
What would happen if human trafficking ceased to exist?
Businesses profiting from this form of modern-day slave labor would lose out on $150 billion each year in profits and $99 billion worth of sexual exploitation – and $34 billion in construction, mining, manufacturing and utilities would come to a halt, according to statistics from humanrightsfirst.org.
The non-profit organization also noted that the most profitable sectors for labor trafficking include construction, agriculture, forestry and fishing and domestic servitude. Domestic sex traffickers also make “extraordinary profits from pimping both children and adults,” according to the article.
By the Numbers
These statistics also detail that nearly 70 percent of trafficking victims are forced to work in these private economies, with an overlap in the sex industry for both labor and sex trafficking.
In 2019 in Michigan alone, there were a staggering 22,326 victims and survivors of human trafficking. Organizations across the state are working daily to enhance awareness and increase prevention efforts.
“Human trafficking happens to children, women, and men every day in our country and around the world,” Governor Whitmer stated earlier this year. “It is often a hidden crime that can take different forms including sex trafficking, forced labor and almost always involves the exploitation of our most vulnerable. I hope this month serves as a reminder and opportunity for each of us to learn about prevention efforts and ways to support survivors and their families. If you see something, speak up and contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. Your call could save a life.”
Human trafficking is a crime under federal and international law – it’s also a crime in most states of the U.S. Human trafficking is defined by the Trafficking Protocol as “the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation.”
Human trafficking includes three main elements:
1) The action of trafficking or recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or keeping receipt of individuals.
2) The form of trafficking could include threat of or use of force, deception, coercion, abuse of power or position of vulnerability.
3) The purpose of trafficking is always resulting in exploitation. According to Trafficking Protocol article 3, “exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”
The Michigan Human Trafficking Commission works in conjunction with agencies, organizations and individuals across Michigan to ensure human trafficking doesn’t happen on their watch.
#SheDeservesLife, a collaborative movement organized by three Detroit “goal-friends” is a part of the progress to help put an end to human trafficking and other ills locally and beyond.
The movement reflects their respective brands, honors their individual passions and highlights their need for financial and physical support.
A Voice for the Victims
“SHE” represents Kiara A. Johns and her work with Not Our Blueprint Girl Int. (NOBGI), a faith based non-profit organization that serves girls and women both domestically and abroad. NOBGI has been operating since 2015, and host Girls Seminars and Educational Programing in public and public charter schools.
“DESERVES” is a mirror of #MyselfIncludedTM which was created by Angela B. Burgess. #MyselfIncludedTM work is centered around self-worth, self-inclusion and healing.
“LIFE” embodies the work of Tay Ford and Manifest Thirty-One LLC, whose mission is to raise awareness of mental health through education and suicide prevention advocacy while promoting a safe platform that empowers individual voices through their own story, according to a press release.
Collectively, they have banded together to raise a minimum of $250,000 that benefits these organizations and also their new anti-human trafficking initiatives.
Johns, the group’s campaign manager, told the Michigan Chronicle that she hopes to raise money to bring awareness to stopping human trafficking before it even begins through education locally and around parts of the world including South Africa and Guatemala.
“There is starting to become a great need to teach the young women about … how to maintain their safety,” Johns said, adding that even locally, she is passionate about telling young girls to be mindful when interacting with strangers online, being careful who they allow in their inner circle and beyond.
Johns added that from kids, and teenagers to women, anyone could be susceptible to being kidnapped for human trafficking.
“It really just depends on the demographics,” she said, adding that research shows that some victims are as young as 11. “More girls are more at risk for being human trafficked,” she added.
Burgess, a mental health therapist, said that she wants to help create spaces of self-worth, healing and wholeness for victims and victors through the organization.
Ford, a mental health therapist, agrees and said that after overcoming problems in adolescence she learned it is their group’s responsibility to help “empower voices” of women who need to know that regardless of their circumstances their “story matters.”
“I felt a lot of times that I was not heard or seen and I wanted to create something to let [people] know you can manifest and heal at the same time,” Ford said, adding that other women coming from all backgrounds can find healing too when it’s their time.
“Their testimony and their story matters. There is life in it; healing in it and hope in it,” Ford said.
Anyone interested in more information may contact SheDeservesLife.com or contact Kiara Johnson at (313) 617.3006, or email SheDeservesLife@gmail.com for more information.