In 2011 President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation, designating each January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The anniversary of this proclamation became known as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Slavery was officially abolished in the USA by the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865 however human trafficking grows at an alarming rate and despite the USA being a first world country, human trafficking has become a lucrative business for some members of society.
The victims affected and forced into modern day slavery are often of foreign nationalities but could be anyone. They are all subjected to the horrific injustices of human trafficking, including sex trafficking, forced labor, involuntary servitude, forced marriage and debt bondage.
Many of the anti -trafficking organizations arrange awareness raising campaigns all year round, but particularly in January on Awareness Day when publicity is at its peak. It is important to know the signs of human trafficking and who you can contact should your suspicions be raised. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, is a resource that anyone can call to submit a tip about potential incidents of trafficking. Help raise awareness and potentially save people’s lives by educating yourself more about the despicable act of human trafficking and what you can do if you suspect anyone of being a victim or organizer of this terrifying act.
Brian O’Hare has released a well-researched book titled ‘The Trafficking Murders’ in 2020, a book that shows us some of the horrors of trafficking in a fictional way.
Brian’s book stands out as the perfect read for this day. The forward for ‘The Trafficking Murders’ says it all. Brian isn’t just a talented writer. He cares about his work, his subject matter, and about people. He also cares about justice, and more importantly, injustice. His words matter to him, and if you give him a try, you will soon see that they’ll matter to you too.
Modern Slavery and People Trafficking, like the drug industry, frequently involves different gangs operating within a specific geographical area trying to mark out their own territory. It is a vile industry in which only the most evil and sadistic criminals choose to operate, and in which only the worst succeed. They demand utter obedience from those they capture. To make them helpless and submissive, they abuse them, threaten their families, and beat them relentlessly. They are especially brutal to young girls, raping them and force-feeding them addictive drugs, so they can eventually control their lives and drive them into prostitution.
Not all victims of human trafficking are involved in the sex industry. Many are down-and-outs, unfortunates who have suffered a run of bad luck, or even ex-convicts from Poland, Romania, and other European countries, who have been duped into coming to Ireland by promises of well-paid employment and a new life. Instead they find themselves living in vermin-infested terrace houses, often four or five to a room, paid only about 50 pence an hour, and forced to frequent soup-kitchens and food banks to eat. Any complaints are brutally dealt with. Arms are broken, beatings are savage, and threats are horrific. They are coerced into becoming ‘labour slaves’. Trafficked males (they can be of varying ages) are often sold into slavery on farms or to unscrupulous factory owners or recycling centres, while females who are deemed not suitable for prostitution are sold into domestic slavery.
According to the International Labour Organisation, an estimated 4.8 million women and girls are in forced sexual exploitation worldwide. In the UK alone, there are around 136,000 victims of ‘modern slavery’. That these numbers are so huge is testimony to the fact that those who ply this terrible trade are extremely wealthy. They have many influential connections in the areas where they operate, not only with rich businessmen but also with the authorities (often through bribery and blackmail) and even, though rarely, with corrupt police officials.
Trafficking operates in dark places and tends to have minimum visibility. Speaking to a BBC journalist after a number of successful raids on September 29th, 2019, Detective Mark Bell from the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: “They do say that modern slavery is a hidden crime, hidden in plain sight.”
The slavers are remorseless, conceding no quarter or hope to their captives. No one is allowed to escape. Those who try suffer terrible consequences as examples to others who might be harbouring similar thoughts. Traffickers often threaten their victims with deportation or even, occasionally, with turning them in to the authorities. In such a case, since they tend not to have legal status, there is every chance they would have to face prison.
Nevertheless, there are some who, unable to tolerate their captive existence, do escape. Many are so terrified of being caught again that they are prepared to hide and survive in abysmal conditions rather than face re-capture.
During 2018, fifty-nine potential modern slavery victims were rescued by Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) Modern Slavery and People Trafficking Units. More than a third of those were thought to have been victims of sexual exploitation. The government’s existing programmes that purport to help these victims are inadequate and do not provide enough support to help victims escape the grip of the slavers. Worse, official help extends for only ninety days. But many of these victims are extremely vulnerable. They tend to have neither the financial nor intellectual resources to survive after being terminated from the programme.
Things are improving, however. There are currently six pilot ‘Pathway’ schemes being set up to try to help these victims, offering them a fresh start with housing and training for re-entry into the real world.
This latest Sheehan novel, The Trafficking Murders, is born out of extensive research into the people trafficking industry in Northern Ireland. However, while the research was painstaking, the trafficking in this novel is presented in broad sweeps to prevent interference with the flow of the story. This novel simply follows the pattern of its predecessors, offering the usual multiple murders and focusing on the efforts Sheehan and his Serious Crimes Unit use to solve them. That said, the appalling abuse suffered by some of the characters in the story, especially the young female victims, reflects actual experiences of real people at the hands of modern slavers.
The Trafficking Murders by Brian O’Hare:
Lin Hui and Cheung Mingzhu win scholarships to study at Queen’s University in Belfast. Alina Balauru departs a poor farm in Romania for well paid work in Northern Ireland. Three lives harbouring long-cherished dreams. Three lives headed for tragedy.
Sheehan and his Serious Crimes Unit discover the body of one of the young women in the garden of an upmarket residence. Confronted with violent Chinese racketeers, brutal human-traffickers and a fiendishly clever killer called The Shadow, they are baffled by a case that seems to lead in two entirely different directions.
Can they find out who The Shadow is in time to save the other two victims?
Video by Brian O’Hare: https://youtu.be/jl0HRObfYfY
Some reviews of the book:
“Thought-provoking, emotional and gut-wrenching. An exceptional crime-thriller and a must-read for any thriller lover.”
[Eric Praschan, Author of Blind Evil and The Burden of Silence]
“This is mystery writing of the highest quality by an author who deserves very wide recognition.” [Grady Harp, Hall of Fame Top 100 Reviewer]
“I am a fan of detective novels and this book reminds me pretty much of Stephen King’s or Jeffrey Deaver’s works.”
[Phg. Ngx., Online Book Club]
“I have no doubt Brian O’Hare will be the next big name in mystery novels.”
[Sarah Pingley. Amazon Reviewer]
Some Trafficking charities: