Heartbreaking news out of North Carolina this week. After a week-long search, Shaniya Davis, a five year old girl, was found murdered and left lying on the side of the road. She had been taken from her home and authorities say she was raped. Mario McNeill is charged with both first degree murder and first degree rape. Perhaps most shocking of all, the girl’s mother, Antoinette Davis, who first reported the child missing, has been charged not only with filing a false police report, but with trafficking her daughter and child abuse involving prostitution.
For many Americans, human trafficking seems like a foreign, remote problem, hard to fully comprehend. But the fact is, buying and selling of humans is very real. Worldwide, the International Labor Organization, estimates there are about 2.5 million people forced to work in human trafficking at any one time and that 56 percent of forced labor victims are women and girls. According to HumanTrafficking.org, the United States is primarily a transit and destination country. The organization estimates 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked to the U.S. annually.
However, trafficking happens within our national boundaries too. The Polaris Project, an anti-trafficking organization in the United States and Japan, says there is a large “domestic” component of human trafficking in the United States for the purposes of both sexual and labor exploitation. The Polaris Project also projects the average age at which most children are first exploited is 13.
Some recent high profile projects are shedding light on this issue. A new film, “Fatal Promises,” tells the story of victims and an art installation backed by actress Emma Thompson and called “The Journey” gives an in-depth look of a woman’s journey in the sex industry. But all the activism and awareness can’t help us comprehend how a mother could allegedly sell her own child. Even so, there are ways to help.
To help stop human trafficking in the United States and to learn the signs by which to identify victims, sign this Care2 petition.