After spending most of my free time with both playing music and following politics, I came to this Political Science course with enough knowledge to discuss with my peers. I was very comfortable sharing my thoughts and opinions despite wanting to hear others more often than me. When we were told to choose a topic to study and learn about for the rest of the semester, I found it difficult to find a balance of my current knowledge, how much more I could learn, and how many people are going to be in that group.
I chose human trafficking as my topic because I had some knowledge, but not enough to satisfy my curiosity. I knew that not many people are aware of the issue, or they simply believe it is just fiction, but being aware of the problem helped me spark interest and want to learn more. The amount of people in our group was representative of the awareness of the issue. However, when people do think of human trafficking they typically think about sex trafficking. This is due to the portrayal and relevance of sex trafficking in the media, including movies like Taken and others that use it to create action and suspense. Unfortunately when people hear about companies like Nike getting in trouble for commissioning sweatshops in other countries, they rarely realize that there are people being forced to work in these horrible conditions. What sets agricultural and industrial trafficking from sex trafficking is that almost everybody in consumer cultures has used a product produced through trafficking at least once without knowing.
I learned that in Thailand, men of working ages are traded into the agricultural shrimping market to harvest shrimp by force. These men are beaten daily and executed in torturous ways. The company who profited from these practices was also found to be selling to major retail stores including Walmart and Costco, who both contributed to political campaigns in 2016. (Hodal) After learning about the prevalence and cruelty of this trade, I found an interest group by the name of Polaris. Polaris is a national organization focused on human trafficking within the United States. They focus mostly on helping victims of human trafficking and keeping them safe from either returning or being convicted of crimes like prostitution. I kept wanting to learn more about these organizations but I encountered an article by Deanna Davy regarding the effectiveness of anti-trafficking interventions in the United States.
Davy claims that interventions brought upon by the United States government are ineffective not just because of the policies, but also the lack of enforcement and mobility. (Davy) These interventions are so vanilla that they cannot keep up with stopping trafficking within their own country. After reading this, I finally understood that the issues regarding the elimination of human trafficking in the United States relied on the politicians. I finally understood this and I began writing about stopping politicians from favoring their interests who are intentionally involved in human trafficking.
I finally concluded that politicians must cut their corporate ties in order for human trafficking to be killed at the source. From barely understanding agricultural and industrial trafficking, I found myself finding a solution that would not have occurred without piecing together many bits of information. What was even better was that my solution is nowhere near impossible for the American people to implement and hold our politicians accountable.
Hodal, Kate, et al. “Revealed: Asian Slave Labour Producing Prawns for Supermarkets in US, UK.” Modern-Day Slavery in Focus, Guardian News and Media, 10 June 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/10/supermarket-prawns-thailand-produced-slave-labour. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
Davy, D. “Anti-Human Trafficking Interventions: How Do We Know If They Are Working?”American Journal of Evaluation, vol. 37, no. 4, 2016, pp. 486–504., doi:10.1177/1098214016630615.