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Human slavery a worldwide crime
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It is common to think of human slavery as a relic of the past, and more specifically, the enslavement of people from West and Central Africa during from the 16th through 19th centuries. Millions were purchased, traded or kidnapped from the African regions and other places and brought to North and South America to fill a labor shortage gap or help enrich their enslavers. Natives were also routinely enslaved by the new arrivals to the Americas. It was a despicable part of human history and the fall-out from it still haunts societies in many ways now.

Human slavery has not stopped since the 16th century. Some people are kidnapped in their own countries and held as slaves through various means of intimidation, physical and mental abuse and other threats. It is mind-boggling that the slave trade flourishes even in these times of supposed civility and respect for human life.

In the United States, there are laws that provide penalties against criminals who enslave others. Yet, the "industry" continues to thrive because of the difficulties of identifying victims. It is a secretive, "hidden" crime and usually one would never know if they were in the presence of an enslaved person. They may appear perfectly normal, healthy and as "free" as the rest of us. Those enslaved are continually threatened with harm or have simply been made to believe that they have no choice but to stay in their present situation. They fear being killed, some may have been forced to commit crimes and are been threatened with being turned into the police and yet others feel they have nowhere else to go.

According to U.S Department of Justice reports, some 200,000 children are at risk for "trafficking into the sex industry." Thousands more (adults and children) are enslaved for labor purposes, to commit crimes or for other purposes. Children frequently end up being used to produce pornography, and are particularly vulnerable to falling victim to enslavement when they start out as runaways. The criminals preying on these kids exploit their vulnerabilities, like need for shelter, food and security. The first contacts are friendly and caring, but once the criminal has the confidence of their victim, the relationship transitions to being controlling, mentally and physically abusive and continuously threatening.

Adults are more likely victims if they are smuggled across our borders with promises of jobs and a better life. Women, in particular, can end up as prostitutes on the streets and at labor camps. The list of the possible forms of abuse is long. In addition to children and women, people who have been "displaced" by war are vulnerable to enslavement.

Government reports suggest that a million or more people (throughout the world) become enslavement victims each year, and that the number of existing victims is in the tens of millions. It is widely believed that the actual number is much higher. It is apparently an industry that has tens of billions of dollars attached to it, so the forces to keep it going are powerful, organized and ruthless. It is all about money and the victims are seen as an expendable commodity. There are, after all, billions of people in the world, so the supply of victims is virtually limitless.

The enforcement of laws against human trafficking and enslavement are rigorous, but most experts on this subject feel that more can and should be done - particularly in the context of international cooperation, and, more importantly, the extent to which nations will commit resources needed to stop the problem.

In the U.S., the FBI and local law enforcement agencies are key to impacting the crime of human trafficking, yet relatively few cases - probably fewer than 6,000 - are prosecuted each year because the crime is so difficult for the police and the general public to detect. Clearly, there is a moral imperative to stop this heart wrenching, sickening crime. It is also among the most poignant form of human rights abuses, yet it is essentially out of control.

The criminals committing these crimes are among the worst and most dangerous of the evil that inhabits this world. They have no regard whatsoever for human life. These same people are also steeped in many other criminal activities, whether it is the illegal drug trade, violent crime, fraud, counterfeiting, etc., so there is the additional incentive to go after them with a vengeance.

Finally, I believe we will find that these criminals are "organized" and internationally networked, complete with support from corrupt government officials throughout the world who have their hands in all forms of criminal enterprises. Indeed, it would be a great improvement to the human condition, worldwide, if we can root out these evil criminals and spare so many innocent, vulnerable people from living horrible, hellish lives from which escape is nearly impossible.