Education & Awareness // Sold in America

BTS_The Pit_Sydonne (11 of 57).jpg

Letter from the Editor…

The following post is written by Mary Kate Peterson and Sarah Riley, two freshman members of the Breaking The Shackle Blog Team. They do a fantastic job giving us greater insight into a podcast that has effectively revealed the multiple hidden sides of human trafficking that quietly exist in America.

Chances are, if you’re visiting this blog, you care about ending human trafficking. But to fight this injustice, we must know exactly what we’re talking about; what it is, where it stems from, who it affects. And that’s where Noor Tagouri’s podcast series “Sold in America” comes in.

Noor Tagouri is a journalist and activist based in Washington, D.C., who experienced foreign sexual violence when she was a child. As she got older, she began to recognize that this same kind of exploitation and intimidation resided in the United States as well. She developed a heart for these victims and set out on a journey to learn more about their stories and how human trafficking played a role.

One of the primary points of the podcast is addressing the federal government’s definition for human trafficking (although Tagouri focuses on sex-based trafficking). According to the U.S. Department of State, the United States’ government defines human trafficking as follows:

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 8.30.32 PM.png

If the definition appears simple and straightforward to you, take another look. The more you listen to the podcast, the more you realize that this definition covers over a multitude of activities that one would not necessarily first think of as trafficking. Many victims in the United States do not even realize they are being trafficked until much later, speaking to the idea that intimidation plays just as much of a role as physical violence. The word “voluntary” takes on many meanings, and not all of them fit what we previously might have thought. Many victims face a lack of choice not because of physical bondage, but dependence on a trafficker based on addiction, lack of resources to live autonomously, and when the situation involves loved ones, fear of abandonment.

Perhaps even more important is the idea that human trafficking is not the root of but the product of many societal ills. Tagouri cites stories which include drugs, racism, sexism, abusive foster care situations, and other social issues which lead to or add to trafficking scenarios. The podcast does an excellent job of focusing on the complexity and multifacetedness of the trade, and how rather than being an isolated island of issues, trafficking is connected to other problems through a vast network.

Tagouri travelled all over the continental United States for this project, interviewing people involved in every step of the process: sellers of sex, buyers of sex, families of victims, safe house owners, government officials, and more. Through this she uncovered the motivations behind each participant in human trafficking and the fight to end it.

Sold in America takes a thorough look at the issue of human trafficking. This podcast remains an excellent way to become more informed on the realities of the issue and the ways in which it is being combatted. It also tells the imperative stories of every kind of individual involved in human trafficking. Noor Tagouri allows us to understand holistically the hearts and minds of human trafficking so that we can feel with them in a way that drives us to become effective warriors against this plague as well.

Noor Tagouri’s podcast is available anywhere podcasts are available.

Breaking the Shackles