One person or just one researcher can’t really encapsulate the whole story. When you say trafficking, most people in America think sex trafficking. There’s this glorified horror to sex work that isn’t applied yet to labor. When there’s that much money at stake, the traffickers want to make sure that the victims are out there working and paying it back. There’s a huge amount of exploitation and the journeys that people undertake are dangerous journeys.
People die en route. When they arrive, they can often be held at gunpoint until they pay off the balances that are fees. It’s just close to a billion dollar business. There are so many people making money from this every year. There are people who you could go and see and you could pay them to get you from point A to point B, and if you don’t have a passport, you don’t have a visa, that isn’t a problem.
Why not go into the snakehead trade? The profit margins are just as high. The penalties if you’re caught are much, much lower. The other thing is your merchandise can walk. Fujian Province sits along the southeastern coast of China. With a population of 36.2 million people, its chief exports include mechanical and electrical products, automatic data processing equipment, textiles, garments, and footwear. But beyond these, there is one export that has reached the ports of nearly every major city in the world… people.
When you’re talking about a trafficking scenario, it’s not about the work. It’s about the psychological coercion, the conditions placed around your work, the sacrifices that you’re made to take, and the lack of control you have over your whole life. That is what makes trafficking, trafficking. Most of the trafficked Chinese youth, they’re actually sent to the United States by their parents. They tend to be victims of abuse when they’re growing up or especially victims of neglect as well. It’s actually the parents’ idea that they come to the U.S. with snakeheads and be involved in this indentured servitude, debt bondage trafficking scenarios.
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