Racial minorities are disproportionately affected by human trafficking  

Today is National Day of Racial Healing in the United States, where communities discuss racial healing, equity, and justice. The Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) recognizes the intersection between racial bias and human trafficking, which is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person into commercial sex acts or labor against their will, as defined by U.S. law. According to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, “Racism, xenophobia, and discrimination against minority groups and indigenous people are root causes of human trafficking in persons and lead to egregious failures of protection…When gender discrimination intersects with racism and xenophobia, victims suffer even more.” 

The U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons acknowledges that there are discriminatory government policies and practices in place that create disparities in access to economic means or opportunities that traffickers then exploit. The lack of resources to combat the racial wealth gap, family separations, redlining, and harsh immigration policies make minorities targets for human trafficking. The result is statistics like this: In Louisiana, Black girls account for approximately 49% of child sex trafficking victims, although Black girls only comprise approximately 19% of Louisiana’s youth population. 

Junior Leagues across the country are raising their voices against the crisis of human trafficking 

Human trafficking affects an estimated 24.9 million people. While January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking  Prevention Month in the United States, more than 40 Junior Leagues work year-round to raise awareness of human trafficking.  

Leagues also go beyond building awareness and help support anti-trafficking legislation. Over the last 15 years, and continuing today, League coalitions have worked to pass more than 25 different pieces of anti-trafficking legislation, primarily at the state and local levels. Six State Public Affairs Committees in addition to individual Leagues including the Junior League of Tampa, the Junior League of Montclair-Newark, the Junior League of Birmingham, and the Junior League of Lafayette have worked alongside law enforcement, government officials, anti-trafficking organizations, and other community change-makers to accomplish this.  

In fact, the Junior League of Montclair-Newark is hosting a virtual event on Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. featuring Covenant House New Jersey’s work providing care to survivors of human trafficking.  

We ask you to do one simple thing today: share this article with someone else and open a conversation on the connections of human trafficking and racial bias.