I had a great conversation with a colleague at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting in Atlanta. We had spoken over the phone before and certainly knew of each other’s work, but we never really had the opportunity to sit down and discuss issues before. About forty five minutes into the conversation he finally says, “You know, you converse a lot differently than you write. What’s up with that? Do you just get up sometimes in a bad mood and start writing?”
A humorous, albeit fair, question I suppose. Given recent, shall we say somewhat sarcastic or acerbic commentaries on issues like immigration testing (or the lack thereof), familial searching (or the lack thereof), legislation in South Africa (or lack thereof), and national arrestee testing (or lack thereof) I can understand his query.
To some extent, I assume that if you are reading this magazine you don’t paint houses or sell cars or prepare taxes. If you are reading this magazine, it is probably because you are either a forensic scientist or police officer, lab manager or you may even be in the private sector at one of the leading forensic suppliers. In any event, most of you aren’t happy with the status quo when it comes to saving people’s lives. Me either.
That being said, it seems like poor form to spend less time acknowledging when we do, as a community, get it right. So let me take this opportunity.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 161 countries are affected by human trafficking. The majority of those trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age. To further characterize and quantify the crime, an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. And 95% of victims experience physical or sexual violence.
As defined by the United Nations, human trafficking involves, “an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring, or receiving a person through the use of force, coercion, or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them.” But the more tangible human tragedy comes in the end purpose of the “trafficking” itself: sexual slavery, forced labor, illegal adoptions, etc. A particularly insidious example of human trafficking comes in the context of mass human tragedy.