When you turn on your computer and bring up a soft-news site like Yahoo, what is the first “news” story that you see? For me, the story that is flashing on the screen as I write this article screams “Celebs without makeup” and begs me to watch a six-minute video where photos of celebrities like Kim Kardashian are shown looking like normal human beings.
So what else happened this week that isn’t nearly as important to hear about? Well, there was a cyclone that absolutely devastated the Pacific nation of Vanautu, 10 Americans are leaving Sierra Leone because of an Ebola scare and a suicide bomb attack on two Pakistani churches killed 14 people.
Now, I recognize there is a need for fluff pieces – like what Kim Kardashian looks like without makeup or how Ron Burgundy crashed Justin Bieber’s roast. Chances are I will read those stories because they are flashy and entertaining.
But there is one subject that needs to be talked about more in the news media that certainly isn’t getting enough attention: human trafficking.
I know most of you have heard about human trafficking, but you may not know how big of a problem it is in America. I recently attended a panel discussing the basics of human trafficking, and the facts and figures that were discussed absolutely floored me.
Human trafficking is a sort of modern day slavery that can take the form of either sex slavery or labor slavery. Any person can be a victim of human trafficking: old young, men, women, rich, poor, white, black. The only constant is vulnerability.
Statistics are hard to come by as far as how many people are trafficked because it such an underground crime. According to humantraffickinged.com, conservative estimates are 15,000 Americans trafficked and can be as high as 60,000 Americans trafficked. That is an astounding number of people.
Human traffickers tend to swarm to cities where large events are happening, like the Super Bowl. With the Republican National Convention coming to Cleveland next year, our city will be a natural breeding ground for human traffickers. So the time to do something is now, before it comes to our neighborhood.
I encourage each and every one of you to do your own research about human trafficking or to go to a Students for Social Justice meeting, where there is a group solely devoted to human trafficking that is sure to give much more information than I can in 600 short words. Hear what people have to say and hear the stories of those who have been affected.
The story of one woman, named Theresa Flores, sticks with me. In a nutshell, Flores lived in an upscale Detroit suburb when a male classmate drugged her, sexually assaulted her and used pictures that he took of her while she was drugged as blackmail.
For two years, this classmate used the pictures to get her to perform sexual acts on as many as ten men at a time. Flores’ tormentors scared her teachers and classmates into submission, allowing them to take Flores out of class to go “work.” She was so afraid of her reputation being ruined that she never told anyone, not even her therapist. Flores was only able to get out of the situation when her family moved away, and another girl took her place.
Think back to the stories that lined the Yahoo News page. Which is more important: Kim Kardashian’s face, or Theresa Flores’ story?