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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

You’re no longer a slave to fear

In America today, when we hear the word “slavery,” it is logical to think first of the African-American struggle during the Civil War. We think that slavery, a seemingly savage act, couldn’t possibly exist in a world like today; and of course not in a first-world country like our own. However, I challenge you to come to

“Slavery is a weed that grows on every soil,” Irish statesman, Edmund Burke said.

I write this in hopes that it will raise awareness of the existence of modern-day slavery and the imminent dangers of it that pollutes the soil on which we stand.

Human trafficking, which can be either forced labor or sex slavery, is the third largest industry in the world and affects over 20.9 million people according to the polaris project.

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Slaves are bought and sold, forced into inhuman acts, and live under fear that if they attempt escape, they could be tortured or killed. It is a darkness that is going on around us more than we know; and it is affecting the lives of millions worldwide.

According to, 19% of those humans sold are forced to work. Forced labor takes on different forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of slavery.

The victims are always the most vulnerable – women and girls forced into prostitution, migrants trapped in debt bondage, and sweatshop or farm workers held as slaves by clearly illegal tactics and paid nothing. As stated in, the average cost of a slave globally is just $90. A terrible and stunning number as a price tag is placed on human beings.

As stated by the U.S. Government, in just one year, 18,000 to 20,000 people are trafficked across foreign borders and onto U.S. soil; with a UN report of more than 70% of them being women and children. They are the most vulnerable.

They’re the ones from broken homes, with no support systems underneath them. Most are runaways who are looking for acceptance.

They’re searching for someone to tell them that they care about them and will take care of them.

Sex trafficking has been known to go on within family circles where even family ties don’t mean anything and parents, uncles, and aunts exploit their own children for pleasure or money.

It is a crime that does not stop at adults. Children are affected just the same and worse. Why aren’t the victims speaking up?

It’s because of fear. They are constantly told that if they try to escape the grip of their captor, they will be punished, tortured, or even killed. Not only is human trafficking happening in other places of the world, but it’s happening in our very midst.  Michigan Attourney General, Bill Schuette has made this a priority, creating a commission to combat human trafficking. Sex trafficking affects more people around us than we realize and I believe the best way we can effectively fight it is by knowing the signs of a victim, and being bold enough to shine a light on the act.

Victims can range from underage children being forced into commercial sex to adults being coerced into unfair labor. Some victims are even allowed to interact with the community and are in plain view, but the awareness is lacking and people don’t know the signs to identify a slave.

Just remember, they are the most vulnerable.

They are the ones who have an undesirable home life and will stop at nothing to gain acceptance and stability.

Based simply off of the numbers in the U.S. alone, it is probable that we have all come into contact with at least one person whose life is controlled by this fear; someone who cannot live one day without the agony of being treated like a slave.

There is a way to make a difference; to understand the sheer number of people being affected and to educate more citizens on the fact that these gruesome crimes are happening.

We need to be able to set aside our prejudices, quit drawing political party borders for the time being, and fight for something that we all have in common. Humanity.

Concern for human life is something that should not be taken lightly.

Whether your religion is to look after widows and orphans, or to live by another system of belief, none of them admonish the fact that humans need looking after.

There are many ways to shine a light in the dark places of the world.

Let’s band together as fellow humans, find the less fortunate, and fight for the ones who can’t fight for themselves.

The weak exist, and are helpless. Would you fight for them?

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