Everyday we hear stories of adults and children that have gone missing or were a victim of human trafficking. However, it rarely seems that we hear of these missing people being found. What exactly happened is left up to the imagination and the question of how to prevent this from happening to you or someone in your family is open for discussion.
As Miss ND International 2011, my platform is on human trafficking, which is also known as the modern day practice of slavery. The reason I got into researching human trafficking happened over five years ago when I was a freshman in college. For one of my classes I was required to hear Patrick Atkinson, founder of The God’s Child Project, who was giving a presentation on modern day slavery. I went, I listened, and I was hooked! I knew I wanted to find out more and see what I could do to help stop this ever increasing problem from growing. It only took me a day to decide I was going to quit my job and volunteer for The God’s Child Project instead. From that point forward, I have continued to research and present on the different topics surrounding human trafficking.
The truth is many people have heard of this term but do not fully understand what it means. Just to give you a glimpse of how immense of a problem human trafficking is, here are a few basic statistics: human trafficking is the third largest criminal industry in world, 800,000 people are trafficked worldwide each year, and 50% of people trafficked into the U.S. each year are children (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Justice; Free the Slaves).
However, stats show us the problem by using numbers, but to fully understand what exactly is taking place it is important to hear the stories of people who have been saved. To do this I am going to share with you a story, provided by The God’s Child Project, about a girl named Ana. One afternoon in a small village in El Salvador, Ana was outside playing when she noticed a car driving along the bumpy dirt road. Ana noticed the car coming but did not recognize the driver or the passenger. The car pulled over to the side of the road and as the passenger talked to Ana the driver grabbed her from behind. Ana was trapped and the next thing she remembers is being taken to a Guatemalan town and led into a house. What happened next is hard to imagine but Ana was taken into a room where a man came in and raped her, and then other men entered the room and did the same. Ana had been taken to a brothel and the only reason she was saved was because a neighbor had grown tired of hearing a small girl cry late into the night and called the police.
This is just one person’s story who was a victim of human trafficking. Nonetheless, it is so important for people to not forget what happened to Ana but also recognize that there are many untold stories out there of people who have not survived to share theirs. Until next time I will leave you with this thought, “It can take only a moment to destroy a life, but it can take years to put it back together again.”
Miss North Dakota International 2011