Saturday, June 13, 2009

Smuggled or trafficked?

Over the past week, I've read several news stories that use the phrases "human smuggling" and "human trafficking" interchangeably, and it has concerned me. I'm not alone. Several people and organizations have contacted me or commented about it on blogs, and even on Twitter.

I emailed those who published the stories, and offered definitions for the two phrases, pointing out why it's so important that a distinction be made between them.

People who are smuggled across borders typically pay someone to take them. They go willingly. Someone, however, who is trafficked doesn't have a choice, and typically ends up working as a slave either in manual labor, a retail establishment, someone's home, or a brothel. Referring to someone who's been trafficked as someone who's been smuggled turns a victim into a criminal. It's these types of misunderstandings that hinder the aide and rescue of trafficking victims.

The co-founder of Project Exodus, Mike Masten, wrote a fantastic letter to the Associated Press and included additional resources that explain the differences between human smuggling and human trafficking. I encourage you to read them. The better educated we are, the more progress we can make in ending this horrific crime.

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