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Modern slavery
Human trafficking is a common problem in many countries, and it will take a concerted effort from everyone to stop it. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Senior Airman Jessica Hines)
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Human trafficking stops here

Posted 6/10/2012   Updated 6/10/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Brigitte N. Brantley
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/10/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- It's a dream many young men and women have -- singing, dancing, "making it" in show business. Sadly, countries struggling to overcome high unemployment rates are preyed upon by human traffickers who convince these young individuals into pursuing their dreams in another country.

Once lured there by the promise of a good job, many are forced to work in conditions unlike those explained to them back home.

According to the U.S. Department of State's "What is Modern Slavery?" page, forced labor and bonded labor are the major forms of human trafficking. Forced labor is marked by traffickers exploiting high rates of unemployment or poverty. Bonded labor is when traffickers exploit workers for the debt they incurred for accepting employment in the first place. Both forms can be seen around the world and often around military installations.

"Guys think they are helping women out by buying drinks, but in actuality they are feeding back into the black market," said Eric Sterman, 8th Security Forces Squadron investigator. "Buying a girl a drink isn't illegal, but this is a difficult problem because there isn't a clear line."

He added that participating in human trafficking or prostitution is illegal and service members can be prosecuted under Article 92 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice if it is determined they engaged in the unlawful activity.

According to the U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking site, about 1.4 million, or 56 percent, of the people in forced labor are from Asia and the Pacific region.
Sterman said many of the girls in the local area around Kunsan are from the Philippines.

Upon visiting local establishments when he was first stationed here in early 2011, Army Sgt. Brian Siegelwax, American Forces Network, noticed possible cases of human trafficking.
"It's a supply and demand cycle, and unfortunately this problem isn't isolated to here -- it's widespread in both Korea and through the world," he said. "We choose where we spend our money. Human trafficking is a problem that needs the effort of everyone to be stopped."

Service members stationed in Korea are educated about this problem both before and after their arrival.

"Every new member to Kunsan receives training about human trafficking prior to arriving through computer-based training," said Sterman. "Once they arrive on station, they are to receive training from their unit about which off-base establishments to avoid. They are also briefed about who to report suspected human trafficking to and what to watch out for."

For more information about human trafficking and what you can do to help, view the Department of State 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report here.

6/19/2012 9:53:34 PM ET
Why are places like A Town now named International Cultural Villagenot blacklistedbanned to military members to visit completely not just the residential area. I went to said establishments and realized what they were if you get the girls to talk that is almost exactly all of their stories. And yet there is many of similar places around Korea that you'll find military members in large numbers especially around bases. I THOUGHT there was a Zero Tolerance policy but it looks like there's a hidden with exceptions line somewhere in the training. If you want to stop something you can't intentionally look away pretend it is not there and it sadly will have to be directed since so many go to said places anyways.
Ryan, Kunsan
6/19/2012 7:43:33 PM ET
Seems to me that it human trafficking is not only accepted but tolarated here on the Pen. We see the AFN commercials about it we are briefed on it. But what is being done to stop it Speaking with some of the MaMas in the bars and they have stated that they have been in A-town since the 70's. I know that it is not isolated to one area but why not make all bars that have women working in them for drinks off-limits. No demand no supply. I dont agree one way or the other. I have bought drinks for women in the bars. But too me this article and the AFN spots and the training seems pointless. People men and women are going to buy them drinks either way. I guess all I'm relly saying is that I'm tired of hearing about how we shouold not support it but it seems that leadership just turns a blind eye it.
derrick, kunsan
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