Preventing human trafficking in Boston

September 2, 2021 10:30 AM

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A person wearing white high-top sneakers laying on the ground. Photo courtesy of Taufiq Klinkenborg on Pexels.

A person wearing white high-top sneakers laying on the ground. Photo courtesy of Taufiq Klinkenborg on Pexels.

Dear Governor Baker,

“It’s much safer to sell girls and women and vulnerable people than it is to sell guns and drugs,” said Nikki Bell, a human trafficking survivor and founder of Living In Freedom Together (LIFT) in a recent Boston 25 News report. I am Nancy Gonzales, a 17-year-old from Boston, Massachusetts, and I’m going to tell you the sad truth about human trafficking; it’s so easy that it happens almost everywhere and nobody knows. What’s even worse is that most of the time these are children, and they have their power and choice taken away from them at such a young age. But the ones that do get saved sometimes don’t get the resources they need after such trauma, and that is what I'm fighting for.

Women, children and even men are being recruited or obtained and then forced to labor against their will through force, fraud or coercion. Many think that people are just snatched up from the streets, but the truth is most of the time the people being trafficked were lured in by people they trusted and were close to. Trafficking victims are often lured by false promises of decent jobs and better lives. 

I understand that human trafficking is such a big issue that it can’t be fixed overnight, but the survivors deserve better access to resources. At the moment in Massachusetts, according to The Massachusetts Interagency Human Trafficking Policy Task Force, survivors are given services such as basic living, job support, health support and more.

Now, this is great, but the problem is survivors are only given these benefits during their investigation. Once the case is closed, they are on their own. Also, to be eligible for these benefits, you have to prove that you were a victim of human trafficking. That might sound easy, but it’s not. The number of prosecutions of human traffickers is alarmingly low.

According to the 2017 State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, there were only 14,894 prosecutions and 9,071 convictions for trafficking globally in 2016. And of the estimated 16 million forced labor victims worldwide, only 1,038 cases of forced labor were prosecuted globally in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of State. 

Human trafficking is also connected to the problem of homelessness. It is much easier to traffic someone who is homeless as they are very vulnerable. Also, many survivors end up homeless. This is especially true for women as the inequalities they face in status and job opportunities worldwide make it harder to find a job after the situation. This puts them in much more risk of being trafficked again. 

Some solutions to help this situation would be having more homeless shelters or just providing more support for the homeless. This could reduce not only the major problem of homelessness but also the problem of human trafficking. To address the main problem of how low the prosecutions are, there needs to be more effort put into stopping these people. Solutions could be as simple as closing more cases. The victims need justice.

Human trafficking is something so terrible that it needs to be stopped no matter how long it takes. But, if all we can do at the moment is help the survivors live a better life and possibly reduce other problems like homelessness, then we should. Something small can impact someone in such a big way, and survivors need all the help and support they can get. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope things can change.

Sincerely,

Nancy Gonzales

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