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Human trafficking: Oral health can tell a story that victims cannot

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Human trafficking: Oral health can tell a story that victims cannot 

Human trafficking is a huge and growing problem. Dental professionals are in a prime position to recognize trafficking situations as many of the injuries occurring in victims are visible in the head and neck region.

As the stories of Jeffrey Epstein and R. Kelly proliferate in mainstream media, the atrocity against humanity with the increase of human trafficking cases is fast becoming one of the greatest crimes against morality. Even though most believe that human trafficking is a “sex crime,” there are also cases of forced labor and public servitude where victims become trapped by their circumstances. Some believe that human smuggling is the same as human trafficking, but they are two separate crimes. Human trafficking is defined as “the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through fraud, force, or coercion.”1 Human smuggling “involves the provision of a service—typically, transportation or fraudulent documents—to an individual who voluntarily seeks to gain illegal entry into a foreign country.”2

As the fastest growing commerce in the world, the $150 billion criminal industry of human trafficking is ranked third behind drug sales and drug dealing. Unless this crime is eradicated, the rank of third may move to number one as those involved in human trafficking find it more lucrative than drugs. You can sell a kilo of heroin only once, but you can sell a young girl 20 times a night, 365 days a year.

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