Every year, men, women, and children are affected by human trafficking. It occurs in every country, and Portland, OR is one of the most affected cities in the United States. Due to Portland’s location, culture and population, it attracts the attention of traffickers.
According to the Youth Ending Slavery website, due to Portland being on an I-5 corridor that links Seattle to Southern California, and Canada to Mexico, it promotes the presence of traffickers. They frequently lean towards places with more nightclubs, and towards areas with easy access to travel out of in order to exchange traffickers, or to hide their victims. Due to Portland’s high rate of homeless youth, traffickers are also able to easily manipulate youths into becoming their victims. Some of the central factors they look for is for victims are any that have an unstable home, any kind of addiction, and/or someone with mental and emotional problems. They will then lure their victims into believing that they want a relationship, with a chance for better opportunities and a stable financial life. Most human traffickers are part of a gang, family operation, small business, or criminal network.
“I did a whole thing about human trafficking in the Ivory Coast, and my response is it’s bad and it should be stopped,” Amelia Williams ’16 said.
When victims are lured into human trafficking, they are often kept in underground markets, factories, or locked behind doors against their will. Others are kept in the public view where they are unlikely to be identified. A numerous amount of victims are found to be runaways or homeless.
Human trafficking consists of sex trafficking, and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking is composed for the purpose of commercial sex by force, fraud, or coercion. The most common ages for victims brought into commercial sex is under the age of 18. The aim of labor trafficking is for the justification of labor services and or slavery by force.
“Overall, I don’t think any type of human trafficking is the correct thing to do,” Rubi Rios Valdez ’16 said.
Indicators of human trafficking occurring, or someone living the life of a victim, include someone not being able to claim an address to where they can be visited, not being in control of financial records, having a varieties of stories about where they live or work, and becoming anxious and fearful when coming into contact with any form of law enforcement.
A new 2016 House Bill took effect on Jan. 1 in Oregon that would create funds to help restrain child sex trafficking. Human Trafficking Awareness Day was on Jan.11, 2016, to help raise awareness for the cause.