Human Trafficking: Hmong
Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day and I feel a sense of urgency as I draft out this post. There's so much that goes on in SE Asia where our parents and ancestors originated from. Things that no one should ever have to experience. Slavery.
Hmong people are among the minorities in both Thailand & Laos. We are a people with no country nor government to protect our people. There are no legal documents to prove our identities or validity. In places like these where the majority of the population are in poverty, people slip through the cracks. Literally. Thailand & Laos may still be flooding with culture & entertainment but it's quite corrupted and has been desensitized by the reality of human trafficking.
Wikipedia says, "Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage, or the extraction of organs or tissues,including for surrogacy and ova removal. Human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally. Human trafficking is a crime against the person because of the violation of the victim's rights of movement through coercion and because of their commercial exploitation.Human trafficking is the trade in people, especially women and children, and does not necessarily involve the movement of the person from one place to another.
The International Labour Organization has reported that child workers, minorities, and irregular migrants are at considerable risk of more extreme forms of exploitation. Statistics shows that over half of the world’s 215 million young workers are observed to be in hazardous sectors, including forced sex work and forced street begging. Ethnic minorities and highly marginalized groups of people are highly estimated to work in some of the most exploitative and damaging sectors, such as leather tanning, mining, and stone quarry work.
Human trafficking is thought to be one of the fastest-growing activities of trans-national criminal organizations."
I've personally committed the last 4 years to becoming an anti-human trafficking advocate. Learning what it is, how it looks like and more importantly, how I can stop supporting modern day slavery in all its forms in my life. You will be surprised if you knew the extent of modern day slavery today. I'm telling you, it's worse than you could ever imagine.
I believe that the Hmong are one of the largest minorities to be preyed upon. Over the years, the industry has changed and no longer looks like pimps and sex workers. It looks like factory working for unfair wages or being sold into neighboring countries as a slave. "Bride Kidnapping," or also known as "Zij Pojniam" is so accepted within the culture and is always made such a public display that outsiders are taking advantage of it as a source for gaining more people into the industry. No strings attached. So basically, women and young girls (mostly between the ages of 13-16) are captured to supposedly become wives but really just end up getting sold off into neighboring countries as a sex partner, house-worker/ maid, or trapped in a brothel.
When living in impoverish countries such as where our people are from, remember that there is a sense of desperation and hope. Captors look like "average Joe." They most likely are Hmong and have become blinded by their growing wealth in committing such crimes. Or it even looks like indebted parents that would rather sell off their child to support their addictions. But since there is no government protection nor do the neighboring law enforcements care, most likely, they're involved and support the industry too, women and children are disappearing into thin air. Without a trace and with no one to look for them. Leaving them hopeless.
- "Hmong men/women traveling from the US to a foreign country for the purpose of having sex with underaged girls/boys is a violation of federal law.
- Hmong men/women traveling from the US to a foreign country to marry an under age girl/boy and withheld from school and denied education for employment can become a forced labor/slavery situation.
- Sham marriages is a crime in itself. Both partnering in falsifying the information when it comes to immigration itself. "
Watch the interview Here.
Friends, I urge you to look into this. I'm not writing about a fictional movie I've watched. This is reality and it's really happening to our brothers and sisters back in the jungles and huts. We need to know about these things. I know that we've all had a loved one or know someone who has gone back to Thailand or Laos to either replace or add-on to their collection of partners. I also know that there is now a stigma when our relatives tell us that they want to go back to visit our place of origin.
Please don't just focus on your side of the coin. Remember there's two sides. Most likely, these young girls are being sold off or forced into this industry that's been masked to look like social dating or luring our Hmong American friends and family by force. It may sound ridiculous but it's true. For some reason, this has been a heavy issue and no one has seem to connect the dots. Let's remain sensitive about this issue. As hurt as you may be as a victim of these issues, know that you're not the only one hurting.
There is still so much to be shared about this real issue but I want to share some ways that we can make a difference and effect our people directly. Gary Haugen says, "Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern slavery, but nothing will ever happen until we are." So now that you know, please link arms with me and do something. If nothing else, please look into this issue and talk about it. Don't ever stop asking questions.