How far would you go for a career in show business, or a better life in general? This is a question few people ask themselves before they reach the point of no return. There are many sinkholes on that road, but few of them are as deep and concealed as the human trafficking industry.
It is an industry, if you think about it. There is a division of labour and a hierarchy that stems from it. Certain people are on the prowl, marking their next target, while others entice their pray with smooth talk and slick advertising. Once you’re hooked in, depending on which market you’re sold, you’ll most likely end up on the streets of some foreign country, toiling away on a farm or worse – sliced up in some guy’s freezer. You’re ultimately a commodity, a tool, a toy; the point is, you’re not human, and they will make sure to drill that mentality into you.
Breaking people’s psyche is perhaps a trafficker’s strongest weapon. More often than not, they won’t do the dirty work directly and will instead use trafficked women to lure others who have gained their trust into the becoming victims themselves. They will sell you the promise of a better life in the hopes that they can later on profit from the life you already have… or at least, that’s how the common narrative goes. Some say this is not entirely the case.
Although no one disputes the fact that the threat of abduction and abuse are very much real, some critics do take issue with the way the discourse on human trafficking is led. While certain acts are outright criminal, often this happens legally and through consent. Most of the victims of human trafficking largely come from hard-up backgrounds, seeking a better livelihood elsewhere, so it’s not rare for women to be working as prostitutes on their own volition. The usual flip side is that these women don’t know what they’re getting themselves into – abusive pimps, nightmarish living conditions, bad pay and degrading work – a stark reality that threatens more than just the poor.
Traffickers don’t discriminate. So long as you’ve got the basics of what they need, they’ll pull every stunt imaginable to spring the trap on you, including getting into a fake relationship. One famous example of this is the case of US-born Danielle Douglas, now 31, who started off the new millennium by moving from New Jersey to study at Northeastern University. One night she went to what she thought was a party, but found that the only person there was one middle-aged man. By now, you already know where this went and thankfully she managed to escape, but there’s a side to these types of stories that most of us are not aware of, and that is precisely the relationship between the abuser and the abused. Danielle relates how her pimp constantly brainwashed her that he was the only one she could trust. And really, it’s all about trust – you trust the music agent to get you a record, you trust the director to get you a role, and you trust someone who helped you get on your feet. But at the end of the day, how much trust is too much trust?