According to the Pacific Ombudsman for Humanitarian Law, about 27 million people today are enslaved. This number was brought up at the quarterly Soroptimist International Club NMI Chapter meeting last Thursday.
Pamela Brown, a former attorney general, POHL executive director, and Soroptimist Club NMI Chapter president, said that Thursday’s meeting was intended to get the word out that human trafficking continues to occur, even in the Northern Marianas.
At the same time, she said solving human trafficking also includes getting as many people as possible involved, or to at least inform more people.
“We want to get the message out to the community that we do have people fighting [human trafficking] but it does exist here and it has always existed here, just as it does globally,” said Brown.
She said most of the women here are involved in some manner with either human trafficking or want to be involved with anti-human trafficking.
“We are lucky that we have Karidat and they have a shelter, because the shelter and their grant money helps provide for victims of human trafficking,” said Brown.
According to POHL, human trafficking is defined as the recruiting, transporting, receiving, or harboring of human beings by use of force, fraud, or coercion for commercial sex, debt bondage, or forced labor.
Brown said the lightest form of human trafficking occurs when “you have worked and not gotten paid, somehow paid too little, or somehow abused while you are working.”
Human trafficking further branches into two types: sex trafficking and labor trafficking, which deals with victims of any age being forced into committing sex acts and forced labor, respectively.
Sex trafficking and labor trafficking often overlap.
According to POHL, anybody of any age could be a victim. In their handouts at the Soroptimist Cub meeting, POHL said that, according to multiple sources, about 80 percent of trafficking victims are women and girls, and about 50 percent are children.
If you believe someone is a victim of trafficking or if you want to report suspected human trafficking, call the National Victims Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, Department of Public Safety or Crime Stoppers at 234-7272, Victim’s Hotline at 234-5100, or the emergency hotline at 911.