Proposed Georgia legislation aimed at cracking down on modern slavery comes during a month when human trafficking is top-of-mind for many. Throughout January, awareness campaigns throughout the U.S. are alerting local communities to National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, an occasion that directs our attention to a problem that’s massive, pervasive — and far too often overlooked.
According to the International Labor Organization, there are approximately 40.3 million victims of human trafficking, or modern slavery, worldwide — including about 400,000 right here in the U.S.
This issue has become so widespread because its perpetrators exploit forced labor in a wide variety of industries. They also use a growing number of illicit tactics to execute and conceal their actions when necessary, facilitated in part by a collective lack of awareness and visibility into how specific legal, profit-seeking behaviors can help to enable exploitation. One need only examine recent news stories to observe the many forms this problem takes.
In November, police found 39 suspected victims of human trafficking in the back of a truck in England, having suffocated during an arduous journey from their home country of Vietnam. In December, a woman in Oregon sued six major hotel chains, alleging that they allowed her to be trafficked and abused on their properties.
Less than a week later, two Silicon Valley giants were named in a lawsuit over Congolese child cobalt mining deaths. And none of these stories touch on the alarming rate of labor trafficking in the construction industry globally, which the ILO has stated is a leading source of forced and trafficked labor.
The above examples have many causes, from an economic structure that prizes cheap labor, to laws that never conceived of the flexibility or reach of neo-banking and A.I. capacity that could play a vital role in addressing these issues and saving lives.
Trafficking is a transnational organized crime that is highly adaptive, and absent equally adaptive efforts to combat it; traffickers can exploit the letter of the law to defy its spirit. We have to challenge ourselves to question if we’ve settled for a quid pro quo that provides personal privacy at the cost of lives globally.
To read the full story by Tom Walsh and Julia Ormond on The Hill: Click HereTags: Georgia, ILO, International Labor Organization