Human Trafficking can Affect Anyone by Jeremy Miller

When many people think of trafficking, the only thing that comes to their mind is the sexual exploitation of young women. While this is one form of human trafficking, it is far from the only form that is seen in the world. The graphic journal Borderlands, by Dan Archer, shows many different ways that humans are sold, and that it is very typically for labor as well. It contains true stories of people of all sexualities and races being tricked and exploited. I used to think that it was much harder for people who are stronger or smarter to be trafficked, but Archer included statistics that say otherwise. For example, “50% of those who get trafficked from Ukraine have been in higher education.” This shows that anyone can be targeted and used.

Not only can those who are smart be trafficked, the strongest of men can be as well. The story “Rublevka” is the only one in the journal that shows this happen to a man. The man was simply offered a job at a big construction site. Of all of the workers, he was the biggest so he thought that he would be able to take care of himself. He gets there and is immediately put to work. When he asks for pay they just say that it comes on completion, but readers know that completion will never come. This struck me because for weeks he was working as a slave and didn’t even understand that was the case or how he had gotten into that situation.

The image of the dacha is the only image that takes up an entire page in the entire journal. I also noticed that it was printed on inside of both the front and back covers. I feel that this is because this was an important image for Archer as well. It shows how easy it is for someone to be put into slavery and how trapped they are once in open sight. These mansions are in rich neighborhoods, but behind the scenes, the blood of the poor is building them. I feel that this panel showing slaves working on and building the dacha embodies this form of human trafficking and can shows that anyone can be put into this situation.

Blog post by Harrison Todd

I was particularly struck by Evan’s question directed to Dan Archer. The question touched on the media’s gravitation to visual aids in the news, and how this potentially compromises the journalistic integrity behind the story. It was something that I had never explicitly thought about before, and made me question the media outlets with which I keep myself updated. Moreover, it made me look at the short-subject nature of Borderland in an entirely new light, especially compounded by the new information that Archer had a page limitation on the project.

Upon my initial reading, I was taken aback by how abruptly the stories ended, and how little time Archer spent with the victims of the stories. It made for the escalation of events surrounding the human trafficking seem that much more violent and powerful. After hearing that Archer had a limitation, however, it makes one wonder how different the structure of Borderland would be with the free reign that it sounds like Archer didn’t have. Would he have shown the victims more before or after the events, or would he have shown more brutality? In any case, the discomforting effect that Archer reaches in telling these stories in barely over five pages is palpable, truly instilling in the reader the exact feeling that he wanted.

Now, back to Evan’s question. Did Archer compromise any sort of journalistic integrity in visually powered creation? I don’t think so. My answer is related to what I previously stated about the hurried nature of the vignettes. What I associate with other media outlets that use visuals as their primary sources of news are images of disaster and heartbreak on the front page; pictures of anguish from a genocide or hurricane are some examples that come to mind. In Borderland, Archer largely deals in understatement, something that is used to great effect. The image of the girl getting physically assaulted in the orphanage is a striking example of this. In a series of panels, the girl goes from serene sleep to deep anguish as a man’s hand covers her mouth. That’s it, that’s all that Archer has to show to make his point. In creating Borderland, Archer enhances the statistics that are easy to lose track of by adding real, tangible anguish to them. Furthermore, those statistics are given on the page before each of the vignettes, allowing for the two disparate types of information to be given, and for their effect to be reached, on their own and to work together.

Blog Post by Gabriel (gabe) Joseph Dale-Gau

! From my perspective, one of the most intriguing ideas presented in the last two days of talks on human trafficking, was that Dan Archer had spent time peacefully interviewing traffickers themselves. While studying a topic as horrific as this one, it is difficult to find an unbiased perspective. While Archer’s perspective is far from unbiased, as his work is meant to help publicize and popularize the fight against trafficking, it is still quite the feat to accept the opinions and points of view of the criminals in question as valid towards understanding the issue.!

! In his presentation on monday, Anthony Talbot described the fight against human trafficking as an “unthinking movement”; that anyone would agree to help someone in this situation. In many ways this statement is true, there are very few people in the world who agree with child labor wholeheartedly, or would passively watch an underage prostitute be abused. But still every political, social, or moral issue is relative. On the personal-moral level, I do not believe I possess the gumption or stomach necessary to interview a perpetrator of human trafficking with the same composure and attitude that I would use whilst interviewing a victim. I have already made up my mind that a trafficker’s actions are inherently abhorrent, and could never accept their position in this market as valid and morally sound. Still, it must be noted that not everyone involved in the trade of human beings is evil at heart. As noted by both of our speakers, the motive behind this market is not the desire to hurt and disenfranchise vulnerable people, but rather to accrue an enormous profit in the process. This idea is easy to accept but difficult to fully understand. I am willing to bet that many traffickers were once in vulnerable positions themselves, and joined the trade to escape the same state of being as those whom they prey upon.!

! When Dan Archer first described his interviews with traffickers in Nepal, I was shocked that he would approach them at all. After some thought, I realized I had been projecting my own opinions and prejudices onto the topic. I had been Imagining his travels as something similar to war photography; hiding behind ruined structures, searching for survivors hiding in makeshift shelters, and avoiding the criminal traffickers at all costs. But the battlefield of human trafficking is no war zone, the crimes occur in hidden, semi-legal ways that do not disrupt the order of society. Perpetrators and victims of this trade live among us. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had met a few in my life. I

have definitely benefitted from the work of trafficking victims. I am not innocent of shopping at Target or H&M. Through ignorance of the injustices employed by major companies, our society has unknowingly endorsed the use of modern slave work, even though the vast majority of western society does not agree with these methods.! ! It is difficult to understand how to deal with an issue so widely accepted and simultaneously denied by one’s own society, especially if the issue transcends borders. My reactions and opinions on the topics presented in the last two days are all based in my understanding of society as derived from the way of living local to the United States, and specifically the urban United States. As a class, we question the legality of trafficking based on our communal understanding of legality in countries that possess government. Thus Journalism around this subject, and international journalism in general, strikes me as a very complex maze of morality that consumers of media tend to take for granted. Archer joked about how one of his articles was assessed as a three minute read after months of work, but it is a valid point. Articles surrounding international policy must be carefully crafted in order to fit the target audience’s understanding of culture and morality. As the receivers of this media, we rarely glimpse the difficulties of this process, and the differences between societies. More often, americans think of foreign life as identical to our own, or stereotypical in a generally negative fashion. In reality all societies are complex organisms with positive and negative aspects galore.!

! Archer was able to approach sex traffickers for interviews because he understood that these people were not monsters. they would not hurt him for inquiring about their methods. Traffickers live among common people, not in secluded ruins where human trafficking occurs. The issue is closer than we like to realize, while simultaneously occurring in places we could never imagine. This is why Human trafficking is so difficult to publicize. It is a complex worldwide market, not a gang of kidnappers on the run.

Slavery has never gone away!

Twenty-seven million, according to professor Anthony Talbott, there are over twenty- seven million people in the world suffering from human trafficking, and 200,000 of them are in the United States. In over 160 countries this form of modern day slavery has taken place, and all 50 states in the United States have had at least one criminal conviction. Professor Talbott introduced the basic ideas of human trafficking, and raised a question; why does human trafficking keep happening and what can we do to stop the problem? Through the debate, we were able to gain some knowledge about human trafficking and come up with a few ideas to help solve the issue.

Human trafficking is “the illegal practice of procuring or trading in human beings for the purpose of prostitution, forced labor, or other forms of exploitation” ( An easier definition for human trafficking is a modern day slave trade. One thing that I did not realize before the discussion was that the victims of human trafficking do not have to be moved/transported to other places. Victims can be trafficked in their own rooms. As the definition of human trafficking by has shown, the major types of human trafficking are sex trafficking and labor trafficking. However, the statistics of sex trafficking that professor Talbott has shared were incredibly shocking to me. The statistic showed, 100,000 children in the United States are involved in prostitution, and the average entering age to prostitution was between twelve and fourteen. The fact that the common joining age of prostitution for children is so young, stunned me, because I have cousins who are in that age group and I could not picture them falling into prostitution.

Professor Talbott has also shared the development of recruitment strategies for human trafficking. Instead of kidnapping, which requires too much risk, recruiters often offer seemingly legitimate opportunities to people who are desperate to work. Also they offer food, housing, clothes and drugs in exchange for sex. They even purchase kids from guardians who are willing to sell their children for money. Because of recruiters’ developed trafficking strategies, most victims would willingly go with traffickers and yet deny they are the victims. Also, human trafficking is extremely hard to convict because it requires witnesses’ testimonies to prove the trafficking. Since victims are often manipulated by the trafficker into not thinking of themselves as victims, human trafficking became hard to prove. However the strategies have been evolving, and human trafficking continues to become more popular.

To prevent and stop human trafficking in the world, professor Talbott suggested to us, as students, to ask for engagement and mobilization from faculty and other students concerning the human trafficking issue. Also, he encouraged us to critique and evaluate the problem of the causes of human trafficking and reactions of society. I think the American government should reach out to vulnerable people so that they are not economically desperate and feel forced into human trafficking. Also, the government needs to fund and support the victims who are rescued from human trafficking so that they can adjust themselves into human society again.


Work Cited

Belser, Patrick “Forced Labor and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits”. Cornell University ILR School. 2005-03-01. Retrieved 2011-06-25


“human trafficking.” Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 21 Oct. 2014. < trafficking>.



Furthering My Research After Dr. Talbott’s Talk

As I listened to Dr. Tony Talbott speak about human trafficking in Ohio, what I was most struck by was how ineffective current laws are in trying to help victims of human trafficking. When I looked into this, the results of my research were similarly shocking; the resources we have available don’t adequately help victims, and aren’t being utilized to their fullest extent.

In 2000, the VTVPA was passed, a piece of legislation aimed at cracking down on human traffickers. As part of this law, the government began giving out T-visas to victims of human trafficking, in order to help prosecute those who trafficked the victims in the first place (Polaris Report). A limitation was placed on these visas at 5,000 per year; however from then until 2008, only 1,318 were given out (Human Trafficking Report). This is largely due to the difficulties one faces when applying for a T-visa; those seeking asylum in the United States after being trafficked here face a complex legal fiasco in trying to get a T-visa, which frequently involves approaching a lawyer they cannot afford (Human Trafficking Report). As a result, many go back to the country they came from and are placed in the same situation they came from. One would expect that those who do get their T-visas would be allowed easy renewals, given how so few people receive them in the first place; however, as Talbott noted, victims of trafficking are frequently sent back to their original country as they cannot prove that their circumstances would be extremely detrimental to them.

Growing up in Seattle, it’s difficult to avoid the topic of human trafficking; on the backs of buses and on billboards NGOs have many advertisements up about recognizing the signs of victims. Naturally I became interested in how it compared to Ohio in terms of causes and outcomes. As it turns out, trafficking is a large issue, and it would appear the state government in Washington has responded to it. Washington serves as a large funneling point for much of this country’s international trafficking due to its large amount of ports on the coast, as well as its border with Canada (Washington Human Trafficking). It is also a destination for many victims, due to the vast farmlands and dependency on agricultural workers in the east (Human Trafficking). Thankfully, however, it appears the state government has responded quickly to the issue. Washington State was the first state to pass state specific anti-trafficking laws in 2000, as well as creating a task force to tackle the issue (Washington Human Trafficking). While many other states lagged behind in these regards, Washington has passed every category the Polaris Project uses to judge a state’s trafficking laws, making it a Tier 1 state (2014 State Ratings). While today this is quite frequent, in even 2011 the US was made up of mostly Tier 2 or lower states (2014 State Ratings). There are still people being trafficked into the state of Washington in spite of this of course, but it’s nice to see that progress has been made.

Note: This was written to be posted after Monday’s presentation, but due to difficulties with uploading, it’s being uploaded on Tuesday.




Works Cited

“2014 State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws | Polaris | Combating Human Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery.” Polaris. Polaris Project, 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <>.

Washington Human Trafficking Report. Rep. Office of Crime Victims Advocacy, 2008. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <>.

Human Trafficking Report. Polaris Project. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <>.

Our storify on the first two conversations!

Kevin Bales on modern slavery


General Indicators People who have been trafficked may:

• Believe that they must work against their will

• Be unable to leave their work environment

• Show signs that their movements are being controlled

• Feel that they cannot leave

• Show fear or anxiety

• Be subjected to violence or threats of violence against themselves or against their family members and loved ones

• Suffer injuries that appear to be the result of an assault

• Suffer injuries or impairments typical of certain jobs or control measures

• Suffer injuries that appear to be the result of the  application of control measures

• Be distrustful of the authorities

• Be threatened with being handed over to the authorities

• Be afraid of revealing their immigration status

• Not be in possession of their passports or other travel or identity documents, as those documents are being held by someone else

• Have false identity or travel documents

• Be found in or connected to a type of location likely to be used for exploiting people

• Be unfamiliar with the local language

• Not know their home or work address

• Allow others to speak for them when addressed directly

• Act as if they were instructed by someone else

• Be forced to work under certain conditions

• Be disciplined through punishment

• Be unable to negotiate working conditions

• Receive little or no payment

• Have no access to their earnings

• Work excessively long hours over long periods

• Not have any days off

• Live in poor or substandard accommodations

• Have no access to medical care

• Have limited or no social interaction

• Have limited contact with their families or with people outside of their immediate environment

• Be unable to communicate freely with others

• Be under the perception that they are bonded by debt

• Be in a situation of dependence

• Come from a place known to be a source of human trafficking

• Have had the fees for their transport to the country of destination paid for by facilitators, whom they must payback by working or providing services in the destination

• Have acted on the basis of false promises

Indicators adapted from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Polaris