Mariah is the Program Manager of End Slavery Now. Currently living in Cincinnati, Ohio, she graduated from the University of Cincinnati's DAAP program with a degree in Digital Design. Check out her work at www.mariahacord.com
Many individuals are vulnerable to becoming enslaved. Below are some of the different ways people become enslaved.
You pay recruitment fees to individuals offering to bring you to another country. Whether it's to escape genocide or warfare, or a natural disaster or economic depravity - many different types of people want to escape the situations they face in their home countries, and you're just like them. Once you pay the recruiters, you trust them to hold up their end of the deal. In many cases, these recruiters lie and falsify documents; then, they smuggle you across borders. You think you're traveling legally. Now, you're vulnerable to either facing a difficutl situation in your new home - because you're undocumented - or the recruiter you paid is going to bring you directly to an "employer" that is going to force you to work and pay off your debt to the recruiter. You'll probably never leave.
You're a young girl in a third world country, and unlike many of your peers you actually get to go to school! (In fact, 66 million of your peers worldwide don't get to go to school.) You're bold and brave for heading to school in tough conditions, but on the way one day a group of men abduct you. You're so young and scared, but these men don't care. You're going to be sold to the highest bidder.
You need a job and answer a newspaper or social media ad. You want to become a model, and this agency says they're looking for new, exotic talent! The agency you sign up with makes you promises, and it all sounds too good to be true. You show up to the job only to be kept captive and forced to work.
Your family is starving and your youngest child is deathly sick. You don’t have the money to pay right now, so you take out a loan with a large employer. You plan to work to pay back the loan, but it's worth it because you can afford the medicine for your child. Little did you know, though, this debt will take years to repay. Your new employer not only requires you to pay back the debt with an incredibly high interest, he also starts to charge you for the materials and supplies you'll need while working the job. These costs continually add up, and you make nothing close to what you're charged each week for staying there and working. You’re trapped.
Sometimes the ones we love the most are the ones to cause us so much harm. You live with your aunt, and she simply cannot provide for you. She know that she'll make a nice little profit if she sells you to that recruiter that keeps asking about you. Finally, she gives in, and you're off to a new job in an unfamiliar part of town. You never see your family again, and you're sold to a man that forces you to have sex with dozens of boys and men each day.
Be an alert traveler and look out for signs of trafficking
Here are five recommendations by human trafficking survivors to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.