Sofia Aumann Mrs. Siev English 10 15, April 2013 Education in the Fight Against Human Trafficking Human trafficking, considered modern day slavery, involves the illegal purchase, sale, and transport of humans for forced labor or sexual exploitation. “The International Labour Organization, a UN agency, estimated that at any one time there are 12. 3 million people engaged in forced labor of all kinds, not just sexual servitude” (Kristof and WuDunn 9).
When women and children are educated, they are given the opportunities of building stable and secure lives in which they can earn jobs, which in hand creates economic empowerment as well as gives them protection from vulnerability. Educating also helps warn people about the dangers of human trafficking and help prevent them from falling prey. Human trafficking can therefore best be fought through the power of education, knowledge, and opportunity. Human trafficking stems in large part from lack of education. The majority of the victims come from underdeveloped countries and fall prey to human traffickers and brothel owners.
The victims are uneducated and have no economic stability. They are usually female, with impoverished families and the men in the families feel it is a great waste to spend money on their educations. They believe that these women and girls should be limited to household duties. In these third world countries, very few girls do attend school. If they do, most never reach a middle school or even high school education. “Of the 115 million children who have dropped out of elementary school, 57 percent are girls” (171).
With limited income and income opportunity due to their location, most of these families fall deeper into poverty, leaving them only one choice: to sell their daughters into sex slavery or forced labor. This does not happen in all cases, however. Other victims are promised the chance to a better life, with a new job. Knowing nothing better and seeing no other gateways of hope, they usually agree to be taken to different cities or even countries in order to work at this “job” they were promised. When they arrive, they finally realize they have been sold as sex or domestic slaves.
Again, with poverty being the underlying issue, women and girls see no other life when they are not given the education needed to lead better lives. Other girls and women are simply abducted into this slavery. When women and girls are given the right to an education, whether it be is a college education, high-school education, or even just a middle-school education, they receive opportunities that will safeguard them in the future. “Education is the key issue for overcoming poverty, for overcoming war” (164). With an education comes the ability to obtain a job.
The book Combating Human Trafficking in Asia: A Resource Guide to International and Regional Legal Instruments, Political Commitments and Recommended Practices gives some of the major prevention strategies to human trafficking, including: The provision of basic education and relevant quality training for gainful employment to women and children… and the formulation of economic empowerment programmes for women… seek to address some of the root causes of trafficking such as poverty and discrimination against women and girls resulting in lower education and skills and thus fewer employment opportunities, rendering them vulnerable (United Nations 129). After receiving an education, these women and girls can now advance and create jobs for themselves. “Until women are numerate and literate, it is difficult for them to start businesses or contribute meaningfully to their national economies” (Kristof and WuDunn 170). Once they have their lives somewhat stable, with income coming in through them, they become less vulnerable to the terrors of human trafficking. They are now independent and can support themselves and their families. They have the skills needed to go into non-exploitive occupations.
When this happens, they are not seen as worthless anymore and will not be vulnerable to being sold into the sex and labor trade. In the context of combating trafficking, if women are not provided with educational opportunities or the effective right to pursue educational opportunities they will be more vulnerable to trafficking because their lack of education will make them ineligible for non-exploitive forms of work (United Nations 225). Most trafficking occurs in the poorest of countries far from American realities. However, it happens in the United States as well, in suburban and urban neighborhoods, despite that education, available publicly and freely in the U. S. , is considered the solution to trafficking in the third world.
Instead, in the United States, education can be used to fight human trafficking in the form of making the public aware of these issues. Most girls that fall into human trafficking in the United States and other developed countries are usually part of the runaway groups. They are troubled teenagers who stray from their homes and are found on the street, vulnerable and in need of attention. Pimps and traffickers are familiar with the hangout spots these teens congregate in, which makes luring them and abducting them that much easier. “The U. S. State Department has estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year, 80 percent of them women and girls, mostly for sexual exploitation” (Kristof and WuDunn 10).
Educating girls in schools about the dangers of human trafficking and the prevalence of it will decrease their chances in being abducted or lured by these pimps or human traffickers, and possibly even prevent them from running away. Education, whether it is awareness and prevention or just schooling, is one of the fundamental ways to fight and combat human trafficking. When women and girls are educated, they are given more than just knowledge, but a way in which they can fight for themselves and become independent. Educating women and giving them opportunities to succeed in life is something that can never be taken away, even after being victimized and treated as if they were nothing because in reality, “women hold up half the sky” (Mao Zedong).