How Race and Human Trafficking Are Closely Intertwined

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The abolition of slavery is a pivotal part of our history, but it seems that time hasn’t completely changed our dark history with it. Modern slavery is not limited to labour exploitation. It manifests in the form of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. With the enactment of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015 for England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics in the UK reported that the number of modern slavery offences in the region continued to increase as a result of increased crime reports. In March of 2019, there was a 51% increase in the number of reported modern slavery offences compared to the previous year. Although there are laws established to combat slavery, the correlation between one’s race and the risks of human trafficking is still prevalent.

The Ties Between Race and Human Trafficking

According to a Chamberlain University article on why black women are more susceptible to human trafficking, scholars point out the deep-rooted history of African American oppression as the cause of why there are significantly more human trafficking victims among people of colour. It showed that 62% of the confirmed sex trafficking victims are African American, a trend that is reflected around the globe. In the same article, Dr. Roberts-Tabb explains that poverty, absentee fathers, and incarcerated parents due to social inequalities are some of the factors why people of colour are forced or coerced into slavery.

Similarly, Polaris’s discussion on race and human trafficking also discussed how existing policies and labour protections that exclude marginalised communities from achieving economic mobility have resulted in more African Americans and Latinos being vulnerable to human trafficking. With this, we can see that racism and discrimination both at the personal and legislative levels play a crucial role in why people of colour are at more risk of these dangerous circumstances.

The work White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism revolves around the idea that racism and racial inequality are universally ingrained in society. Anti-racism educator Robin DiAngelo postulates that an individual doesn’t need to be inherently racist to perpetuate racism, sometimes it’s an unconscious mechanism such as in white fragility. DiAngelo explains the concept of white fragility as the sensitivity and discomfort that white people feel when confronted with issues related to racism. Most white people are convinced and truly believe that they’re not racist when they’re confronted about it, and to reduce these feelings of discomfort, individuals exhibit a range of defensive behaviours and emotions like fear, anger, and guilt. Although it’s not outright racism, being indifferent, defensive, or silent to issues of racism and racial inequalities can manifest as white fragility because it doesn’t help disturb the status quo.

Human trafficking among people of colour will continue to crush the dreams of marginalised communities as well as their opportunities of having a better life if we remain complacent. But where do we go from here?

The Fight Against Racism Contributes to the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Our fight against racism and discrimination remains an ongoing battle, and we have the power as individuals to ensure that history will not repeat itself. First, becoming aware of the racial disparities and vulnerabilities is a big leap to help end race-targeted human trafficking. We need to be informed and to inform others of this insidious social issue.

Our previous CCAT blog post underscores the importance of celebrating the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition since reminds us of the grim but significant event in history that allowed us to create a better society for everyone, especially in regards to their racial identity. This event hopes to encourage everyone to continue to combat all forms of oppression, slavery, and human trafficking, especially among the racial minority.

Modern slavery is still rampant, and we recognise how racial identity can influence one’s susceptibility to human trafficking. You can make a difference and raise awareness against modern-day slavery and human trafficking by learning and knowing how to mitigate discrimination.

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by Apple Clark