Human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is a severe violation of human rights. The two most common forms of human trafficking are for labor and sex. This crime takes place when labor or commercial sex acts are induced by fraud, force, or coercion for commercial profit. Harvard Research Fellow and Nomi Network Advisor, Siddharth Kara, approximates that there are 46 million people in slavery today. However, because of the hidden nature of this crime, statistics about trafficking are estimates at best.
Who Nomi Serves
Nomi Network works with women in India and Cambodia who are survivors or at risk of trafficking or exploitation. Many women in the areas we serve are caught in a vicious cycle of poverty and sexual abuse, becoming prime targets for traffickers. Those who are at the greatest risk of being trafficked or exploited are:
Women Forced to Seek Income Through Migration: In rural areas where there are few economic opportunities individuals are forced to leave their families and community to seek employment in urban areas where they are at high risk of being targeted by traffickers.
Women Who Have Been Sex Trafficked in the Past: Due to the psychological consequences of being trafficked including learned helplessness, complex trauma or trauma bonds between perpetrator and victim, survivors of trafficking often believe they no longer have autonomy over their own lives. Women who have been trafficked in the past are at high risk of being trafficked again.
Women Who Have Been Exploited for Other Forms of Labor: It is common for women who have been tricked or threatened into forced labor to eventually be sexually exploited by their trafficker.
Children or Relatives of Victims of Sex Trafficking: In the communities in which we work prostitution is often a family business. Selling sisters, daughters, nieces, brother, sons, and nephews for sex is a common practice. In many cases, this practice has gone on for generations and is woven into the family structure.
Women Who Currently Live in Poverty: Poverty greatly limits freedom of life choices and makes those in poverty vulnerable to various forms of extreme exploitation. Because economic opportunity provides access to education, services and protection, poverty forces families to take risks and make compromises in order to survive and often forces them apart, allowing children and dependents to be taken advantage of by traffickers and abusers.
Victims of Domestic Violence: Those that experience violence in intimate relationships and at home experience abuse in repetitive patterns of behavior that allow the abuser to maintain power and control. These acts include physical harm, intimidation, social isolation, material deprivation, and emotional abuse. These patterns and the feeling of having no way to escape allow victims of domestic violence to be easily transitioned into sexual exploitation.
Women or Children Forced into Marriage: Forced or early marriage is common in cultures where social norms marginalize the value and status of women. It takes place when marriage occurs without valid consent of one or both parties and in which physical or emotional trauma is a factor. This practice often leads to social isolation and domestic violence.
Religious and Ethnic Minorities: Due to various religious caste systems and other systematic forms of discrimination, members of religious and ethnic minorities suffer higher levels of abuse and a lack of access to basic rights and protections, making them easy targets for traffickers.
The women we serve often identify as having one or many of these vulnerabilities concurrently.
Key Drivers of Human Trafficking
In the locations where we work, two frameworks exist that render the women in our program invisible. One is caste and cultural systems that, over thousands of years, have allowed the women at the very bottom of society to become “untouchable” and the bearers of incredible oppression, poverty and violence. The other is the dark underbelly of globalization, where affluent westerners consume in a largely capitalistic system that depends on the exploitation of people far away in developing countries and companies compete in “The race to the bottom” to maximize profits while minimizing costs. As developing countries stretch to embrace globalization, it’s no surprise that the poorest within these countries, the poorest people feel the burden of the world’s addiction to cheap consumption and become invisible as the dollar signs of profit come into sharp relief. Thanks to globalization there are many choices we make every day that can impact the lives of individuals millions of miles away. According to the Department of Labor, 68% of raw materials such as cotton, cocoa and coffee contain forced or child labor. The reality is that everyone purchases products tainted by modern-day slavery. Nomi Network exists to invite women to come into community and to be known. Not only by our program staff that provide vocational training and essential social services, but by consumers thousands a miles away, who can play a role in bringing humanity back into these vulnerable lives and into consumption. To learn more about how Nomi is achieving results, our