Slavery is a multi-billion dollar enterprise circulating the world, with one billion of those dollars generating in the United States. Modern day slave trading, called “human trafficking,” was the focus of a speech given last Thursday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Krishna Patel.
Prior to the speech, audience members viewed the movie The Day my God Died about girls kidnapped from Nepal and taken to Bombay to be sold and sexually abused. Co-sponsoring the event was the Amnesty International Law Student Group, the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and the Catholic Law Society.
Patel, who speaks often on this topic, continues to experience the extreme lack of consciousness concerning human trafficking within society.
“One of the facts that I am most surprised about when I speak on this topic is that people are: one, surprised to hear that human trafficking is occurring at all, and two, that it is happening in the United States,” said Patel.
Women and children as young as eight years old are often tricked into coming to America for a better life but are forced into prostitution by their captors. Brutal physical and mental torture such as beatings, starvation, rape, and threats on the captive’s family are the consequences of refusal to work.
For some students, viewing the movie and learning the truth about this topic was extremely demoralizing.
“It was devastating and I hope that somehow this trade can be put to an end,” said TJ Centanni, a freshman undecided business major.
Third-year law student Brian King, who interned last summer at the U.S. Attorney’s office, helped organize the event.
“Since my time here in law school the reason I’m becoming more concerned with [global issues] is I’ve learned the world is a little bit bigger than the United States, my concerns have broadened and I hope that if people came to tonight’s discussion then their awareness would broaden, too,” King said.
In an effort to combat the human trafficking situation, the Federal Government passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000. This created a new type of Visa known as the T-Visa which is available to victims of sexual trafficking, allowing them to live in the U.S. for three years and then apply for permanent status.
“Human trafficking has become second to, if not surpassing, the drug market in revenue and involvement,” Patel said. “Public awareness is the first step to ending these horrible human rights violations.”