Written by: SOS International
The political atmosphere is restless as the United States gears up for another presidential election cycle in 2024. While many issues are likely to take center stage during the election season, human trafficking has emerged as one of the topics of debate in recent years. However, it is essential to recognize that human trafficking is too significant of an issue to politicize.
The Implications of politics and trafficking
Over the past few years, we’ve seen politicians become increasingly vocal about taking action against human trafficking. While this is a good thing, and we need governments around the world to implement legislation to protect victims of trafficking, it has brought trafficking into the world of politics. In this day and age, whatever becomes political ends up becoming polarizing.
We hear heated statements about how one party shot down another party’s anti-trafficking bill, how certain elected officials are doing more than others in the fight against trafficking, or how trafficking isn’t a “real issue.” Unfortunately, this political discourse is doing more harm than good, especially in how we communicate about trafficking with others.
Globally, almost 50 million people are currently enslaved by traffickers. Since trafficking is not limited to any one nation, we need a united community of individuals in the fight. However, the politicization of trafficking has led to unproductive division. If we want to see an end to trafficking, we need to fight for unity behind the main goal: to see all captives set free.
Winning political debates about trafficking online won’t put an end to trafficking; it’s everyday people who are engaged in their community that will flip the script. Political affiliations shouldn’t keep anyone from caring for our communities and serving the people within them. What matters is that we engage these communities intending to do good to secure at-risk children from trafficking.
A Better way forward
How can we advocate for those at-risk of trafficking as well as victims of trafficking in a way that isn’t politically charged? A great place to start is with a commitment to hearing the voices of victims. It’s pivotal that the voices of victims and survivors who have been trafficked are heard. Having a victim-centric approach to learning and filtering information about trafficking gives perspective to the realities of trafficking. Having a good perspective of what survivors have to say about trafficking helps us to distinguish fact from fiction.
Understanding the experiences of trafficking victims and survivors is critical in comprehending the truth behind various conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories have added a new dimension to political discussions surrounding trafficking on both sides of the aisle. In recent years, with the rise of social media and other forms of media, various trafficking conspiracy theories have gone viral. However, getting too wrapped up in conspiracy theories can complicate the process of identifying the actual risk factors that lead to trafficking. This can harm victims by diverting attention and resources away from real threats. Sticking to what we know is accurate is crucial, as that will help victims the most. Some of these conspiracy theories have led to an increase in non-viable calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and this can lead to delays in helping real victims.
Finally, we can use our conversations about trafficking to advocate for victims and promote peace. Our main goal should always be to advocate for freedom. The way we navigate tough conversations around trafficking can make an even deeper impact on the people we interact with. When we choose to engage in tough conversations, we will have to sit in the tension between differing opinions. This can be challenging, but when we prioritize honor in how we speak in these conversations, we advocate for freedom while building bridges between conflicting sides. This is how peace and unity are created. When we build unity, we create a place of belonging that invites everyone to participate in the fight against trafficking. We believe together, we can put an end to human trafficking! But it is a fight that will take all of us. Until all are free!