Editor’s note: The following is a letter from Alexander Mallory, a political science and history student, to the editor concerning the global issue of human trafficking.
As a student of political science and history, the autumn before the presidential primaries typically excites me greatly. Yet this year, I’m apathetic to all the pomp and circumstance. I understand why Mr. Trump’s bombast appeals to many voters. I understand why Mrs. Clinton can’t silence critics grousing about Benghazi and her emails. What I don’t understand, however, is why no presidential candidate—neither on the left nor the right—is discussing arguably the most chilling and pressing issue of our generation: human trafficking.
Is human trafficking really not as important as the frivolous comments about Mr. Trump’s perfect hair or the color of Mrs. Clinton’s pantsuits? I believe it is. And you should, too.
Slavery is "when one person is controlled by another, forced to work against their will and treated like property." It’s estimated that there are presently more than 27 million slaves in the world—more than any other time in human history, more even than during the entirety of the African slave trade.
This ugly, invisible crime can no longer be overlooked. As citizens of a country that champions the ideals of justice and freedom, it is incumbent on all of us to demand action from our public officials. Instead of our politicians spewing talking points, we must elevate the level of discussion in this country to have a real and substantive conversation about human trafficking.
It baffles me that not one question at either the Republican or the Democratic debate was about human trafficking. Not one. Like most college students, I’m concerned about student loans and employment prospects after college, but I’m equally concerned that 17,500 people are trafficked annually in the U.S. while our politicians continue to cast a blind eye. To put that into perspective, that’s more innocent victims trafficked in America in one year than the Pinnacle Bank Arena at maximum capacity for a Husker basketball game.
While I commend the debate commentators for bringing up pertinent issues, I seriously question why human trafficking is not considered such an issue. As Americans and world leaders, we can no longer afford to ignore the plight of slaves around the world and at home. But in order to solve a problem, we must recognize there is one.
Human trafficking is a global and growing criminal industry. The U.S. government has recognized this. So why haven’t we? Human trafficking destroys the dignity of human life. All of mankind is entitled to basic human dignity, especially the most vulnerable among us. It’s time to address this monstrous evil.
According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked yearly across international borders. 80 percent of these are female and half are children. Why, then, is this issue not included under the same category as the war on women about which so many of our politicians speak? Whether at home or abroad, this issue should concern all of us. I find it deeply troubling that not one of the candidates running for President has even bothered to address one of the world’s most devastating injustices. It should bother you, too.
I urge all Americans to put aside their partisan labels and work together to end human trafficking. If nothing else, my entire reason for writing this is to generate discussion. Parties and labels aside, all issues deserve their time, and America’s presidential candidates have yet to engage in a much-needed conversation on human trafficking. Information is power, and increased education about an issue such as human trafficking helps promote awareness. This is precisely why this issue needs to be discussed on the national stage. There are more than 27 million human beings living as slaves, and they deserve a voice. Will you be theirs?