Broken Relationships and Broken Systems
The basic root cause of the issue of human trafficking and slavery can be traced back to brokenness – of relationships and of systems. Brokenness and abuse in homes, split families, sexual abuse by relatives, bad parenting, neglect and so on. And systems that are broken can be as large as a country torn apart by war, or chronic poverty – lack of food or water to whole populations, lack of jobs, brokenness in the education system, or the foster care system, the juvenile court system, etc.
Out of this brokenness, people are vulnerable to exploitation, and those who turn to exploiting others have reasons for doing so. The family in one of the Indian villages is so poor their children are dying and their crops have nearly all been washed out by the rain, again. The farmers are in debt and tend to commit suicide. Someone comes into their village promising work in the big city for their daughters. What if it is a trap? But, they would die if they stayed.
The young girl who has never been shown love and support is desperately hungry for attention and gets seduced by a local pimp or recruiter.The boy growing up watching his mother get beat up by his father ends up getting initiated into a gang - feeling trapped and angry with no idea how to process these emotions. In that gang they need to make money for their “family” and he turns to pimping.
Terms used in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA) legislation – recognizing slavery often comes in other forms than physical bondage. Threats and lies and manipulation are just as strong, if not stronger bonds on a victim.
For this system to be profitable, there must be demand. And, we must realize we are all a part of the demand. We demand low costs at the expense of quality and justice – and we would rather look the other way than demand change.
Whether we like it or not we are all a part of the sexualization of our culture, and sadly a large percentage of sex tourists are men from western cultures.
The vulnerable are caught, abused, sold – forced to work against their will- with no compensation, save for basic needs.
The loop then continues to further brokenness of relationships and systems as a result of the exploitation – disease, children born into slavery, evil perpetuated. Unless, the victim is rescued or escapes through help from law enforcement, NGO’s, health care staff, self-referral or even community watch. Once rescued, sustainable aftercare and support is needed for survivors.
It takes cooperation and networking between all the social services and service providers such as: shelters, legal, healthcare, counseling, therapy, job training, education, and community members for support and advocacy. Sadly, re-trafficking often happens, either voluntarily or forcibly – back into the brokenness and exploitation.
When the exploiter is arrested or prosecuted, it takes investigation and cooperation with state and police, lawyers, judges, the court system, prisonns - all the government systems to ensure a proper conviction. Once arrested, there must be a conviction and prosecution of the crime, and justice to be served.
For the conviction there must be victim cooperation for testimony. There must be laws on the books – and protocol for the police to handle the case. Often other laws are used – such as kidnapping, harboring of illegal immigrants, rape, or business code fraud.
If and when the sentence is over, sadly there is often a return into the brokenness of crimes and exploiting others.
Rather than returning to brokenness and exploitation we in Purnata want to see the victims of human trafficking move towards restoration and new life through support of positive community, spiritual breakthrough, accountability, empowerment and mentoring.
Possible response : Throughout this causal loop there are passageways – exiting the loop towards restoration and healing, and then also entering back into the loop from various stages. These intersections must be addressed – who is there to stop the return to brokenness and abuse, and to help pull people out of the cycle – even before the abuse takes place.
Purnata's strategy is primarily implemented with civil society support and partnerships. We believe in the power of ordinary people when they come together as a powerful vehicle for transformation and change.
Our response should be to understand that we are broken people and so we reach out to other broken people.
No matter who you are you can do something. No one is for sale.