Human trafficking and exploitation have been around for thousands of years, but in this era that we live now of globalisation it is undeniable that the problem has intensified immensely. Therefore, now more than ever, it is the time to consider why for decades activists and legislators have fought to end human trafficking but have not been successful. While on the other side, you have the same problem with homelessness…. You have had legislators and activists working against it for year but unable of presenting major improvements. Doesn’t it seem common sense to you that perhaps if these two sides teamed up and came together as working for one big problem that it might actually be much easier to solve both problems?
Well, that is exactly what a recent study done by the Covenant House has suggested in the US. The study claims that the key to eradicating trafficking of youth is to end youth homelessness first. The study consisted of interviewing 911 homeless youth over the US and Canada, and the results revealed that 56% of homeless transgender youth; 40% of homeless youth women and 25% of homeless male have had some sort of involvement with the sex trade; and around 27% of LGBT youth reported occasions coherent with the US federal definition of sex trafficking. Furthermore, one of those interviewed one-fifth of homeless youth are victims of human trafficking including for sex, labor or both.
The story of Naomi
In 2008, this 16-year-old girl left her home to spend a week with a friend in New York City. On arrival, she was immediately trafficked. Over the following four year, she was sold to different pimps and was forced to have sex with strangers several times a week and was eventually arrested for prostitution. While trapped in an apartment where she was locked in a closet, the girl tried to escape several times but somehow always ended up choosing to stay with the man that was selling and abusing her because she was afraid of ending up homeless and alone.
This is just one example of what goes on in the mind of these innocent young adults, and that according to Ryan, head of the Covenant House, the “one of the ways we will end criminal exploitation of children and youth is to make sure there is a robust safety net for homeless issues” and “to end human trafficking, we must end youth homelessness”.