Covid-19 has been considered the worst epidemic in our generation. Every elected official will tell you how dangerous the virus is, and how dangerous the unvaccinated are. What you rarely hear these people discuss is how human trafficking was impacted by Covid-19. This is an already well-hidden crime, but now that you add individuals were forced to stay home without work, without any way to provide for themselves, what do you think will happen? This raises the question: Was human trafficking impacted by Covid-19? In short, yes. How was modern day slavery impacted by the pandemic? Here’s how:
Vulnerability of the unknown
Traffickers knew how to adapt to these unprecedented times. Understanding the benefits from the loss of income by being forced to “stay home, save lives” combined with fear of the unknown, traffickers sprung at the potential income they would receive. Many people became vulnerable. With no way to pay bills or feed their family, how would they survive? Nobody knew. This placed millions of Americans (as well as others worldwide) in danger of human trafficking, due to this sudden vulnerability. This fear was manipulated by human traffickers, who promised many victims money and safety. The U.S. State Department shared in their 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report that the pandemic “increased the number of people at risk of human trafficking.”
More time online
What did the majority of us do while on lockdown? Use social media more or browse the Internet more often. Students who moved online, from kindergarten to college, were in contact with traffickers. The Internet and social media has become a helpful tool for traffickers to find and groom victims. Between March and April of 2020, the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children reported that there was “an increase of 2.2 million incidents of online exploitation.” NCEMC also reported that their cyber tip line had received more than 21.7 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation. Facebook, as I have mentioned before, was responsible for 59% of child sex trafficking cases. Nobody my age uses Facebook, let alone children.
Less resources available
Numerous organizations dedicated to fighting human trafficking and rescuing victims were stopped from doing their jobs. Everyone was told to not leave the house, and businesses must shut down for a certain period of time. This included every anti-trafficking organization. These organizations could not complete any rescues, nor could law enforcement be notified to assist. Not only this, but safe houses and places for trafficked victims to receive necessary assistance were hard to reach, since these resources were shut down. Trafficked victims were alone in dealing with their traffickers, which leads me to my final point.
Danger for those in trafficking situations
Because of the stay-at-home orders placed around the world, victims of human trafficking were forced to remain home with their trafficker. Whenever you hear of cases where a victim or victims were rescued, especially when it comes to children, it can involve them notifying someone nearby. Sometimes, an ordinary person like you or me discover that someone is a victim of human trafficking, and alert authorities. How could anyone receive help if they are forced at home? Abusers and rapists, as well as traffickers, could continue their crime undetected, while the victims were forced to stay home with them.
Porn sites profited from the pandemic
Something worth noting is how porn sites profited during the pandemic. The number of users and profit sugar dating or porn websites made is INSANE. We’ve established how porn sites are complicit in allowing abuse to be on their platforms. How many videos were made during the pandemic that were uploaded? How many contained victims of rape, sex trafficking, or CSE? We may never know. Nonetheless, we have to look at what is truth.
Discussing the effects COVID had on human trafficking shouldn’t be political. The truth of the matter is that the lockdowns and the pandemic caused more damage than good, especially regarding human trafficking. I hope more people become outspoken on this. Human trafficking isn’t a political issue, but a human rights issue.
Article by Hannah at Young Patriot Rising under the headline “Covid And Human Trafficking.”