At a press conference, last week in Washington D.C, the president of Goya Foods announced the beginning of a program (called “Goya Cares”) aimed at combating child trafficking in the United States. In a press release, the company announced it will provide $2 million to the launch of the program aiming to help thousands of families who suffer from this scourge.
Goya’s president Bob Unanue, who manages one of the largest Hispanic-owned companies in the United States, said that “human and child trafficking is the largest modern-day slavery of our time” and that “one in three” of those who are trafficked are children. Unanue said that the company “cannot ignore this plight” and that they will support “organizations and the individuals who risk their lives every day to rescue victims of human trafficking”.
Goya also announced that one of the initial steps taken by Goya Cares is to support the release of the movie Sound of Freedom, a piece produced by Mexican actor Eduardo Verástegui that highlights the fight against child trafficking through the point of view of a government agent. Goya also announced it will provide assistance to NGOs like Freedom Foundation, and The Eric Chase Foundation to reunite families and rehabilitate victims.
Goya, who was the target of a boycott last year over the owner’s political leanings, has said that the creation of the Goya Cares project is something that “isn’t a political issue” but rather a “humanitarian” one where they feel compelled to act.
Human trafficking in America
According to the National Human Trafficking hotline, which maintains extensive data on the issue of human trafficking in the United States, in 2019, there were 11,500 human trafficking cases reported in the United States, with the substantial majority of them (more than 8,000) being sex trafficking.
Although it is difficult to accurately know the demographics of human trafficking victims (for obvious reasons), the National hotline data shows us that a majority of the case reported (more than 9,000) are women. Children also suffer from the scourge of human trafficking, with 2,582 cases concerning minors.
The data we have on human trafficking shows us that while it exists in all 50 states of the Union, the three states with the highest number of human trafficking cases are also the biggest in the country: California (1507 cases), Texas (1080), and Florida (896).
However, this does not mean that human trafficking is exclusive to larger and populous states. For example, federal authorities in Alabama just arrested a man who is accused of human trafficking, liberating a 14-year-old in the process.
The Polaris project, which is the organization that worked directly with the National hotline in tracking cases of human trafficking, said that they have experienced a 20% increase in the number of victims and survivors of human trafficking that have contacted them directly.
Human trafficking might sound like something that simply does not occur in a developed country like the U.S, but the data shows us that is just not true and it is vital for both federal authorities and private businesses to do their best at helping both the victims and their families.