|Sat, Oct 25, 2014 09:04 PM
|Issue of October 22, 2014
June 11, 2014 | 08:03 AM
There is a new name in terrorist town, and it threatens to eclipse that of the infamous Taliban.
It is a name that six months ago was just a whisper on the horizon but, in recent weeks, has become all too commonplace as more than 270 young women and girls were kidnapped from homes and schools in Nigeria.
Do you think human trafficking exists in Southern Indiana?
Figuratively speaking, Boko Haram means "Western education is a sin."
It's a manifesto that the organization based in northeastern Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger holds tight to as it has claimed responsibility for several violent acts across the African country. On May 30, it claimed responsibility for the murder of two policemen and a Muslim emir.
Malevolent acts of violence seem to be the norm for the organization.
Violence is rampant throughout the African continent, but violence is not just limited to Africa. Violence isn't an insular act, and it runs relatively unchecked in many areas of the world, including parts of the United States.
It's not so much the violence that makes my stomach turn as it was a statement that was recently made by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau when he threatened to sell the school girls on the black market. It was the matter-of-fact language that he used that caused my scalp to prickle and my lunch to rise back up in protest.
He said, "I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah ... There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women."
There is a market for selling humans.
This is not the colonial period, and slavery has been abolished (in the United States) since 1863, but, there is a market for selling humans.
Now, I'm not a businesswoman. In fact, I'm really quite awful at math and calculations, but even I can put two and two together.
In order for there to be a market, there has to be a buyer and, in order for there to be a buyer, there has to be a product.
It's a vicious cycle and one that proves slavery has never gone away; it just got upgraded to a classier name.
Human trafficking is officially defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception or abuse of power of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation.
Trafficking is the modern-day form of slavery. The most common forms are the illegal smuggling and trading of people, for forced labor or sexual exploitation.
But, this is happening in Africa. Why do I care?
I care because it isn't just happening in Africa. It's happening the world over.
According to a worldwide report conducted by the Walk Free Foundation, there are 29.8 million people living as slaves in 162 countries with more than 60,000 in the United States alone. This means that there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history.
Three weeks ago, a Louisville restaurant owner was charged and pled not guilty to human trafficking charges. He kept his employees locked in a basement against their will and forced them to work long shifts for little or no pay. According to local news stories about the arrest report, the victims were working 12-hour shifts, six days a week with "little or no breaks and limited freedoms."
The year-long investigation revealed allegations that owner Ming Chen kept the employees in the basement of his home and used a van with wooden benches to take them to and from the restaurant. That's not much different than keeping them in the cellar and transporting them via horse and wagon.
In early January, prosecutors in Johnson County, just south of Indianapolis, charged a pair of brothers and their mother with human trafficking when they ensconced women into slavery via forced, arranged marriages where they would then be domestic and sexual slaves.
Human trafficking/slavery may seem like an international issue, but it isn't. Women and children — and some cases men — are forced into slavery all across the country via prostitution and/or cheap labor.
Just because places like Kentucky and Indiana don't seem like the obvious choices for illicit activity because, as people, we tend to associate those activities with highly populated urban areas, doesn't mean it isn't happening.
It just means it's flying under the radar.