May 4, 17
Human trafficking is a type of
crime that can be considered a modern-day slavery. Unfortunately, it affects
individuals across the world and is the most pressing human rights problem of
the present. Moreover, human trafficking is considered the third-largest
criminal activity in the world (FBI). This crime that is committed with the use
of force, cheating, or any form of coercion with the aim to obtain some type of
labor exploitation or commercial sex act
(National Human Trafficking Hotline). This means that it is
possible to distinguish two types of human trafficking crimes: Sex Trafficking
and Labor Trafficking. Sex trafficking involves obtaining of a person with the
commercial sex act purpose with the use of force and coercion
(National Human Trafficking Hotline). “Labor trafficking is
the type of recruitment of a person for work with the use of force or cheating,
it may include involuntary servitude, forced labor, or even slavery (National
Human Trafficking Hotline).
men, women, and children suffer trafficking every year. According to the data
of 2012 from 124 countries across the globe, around 50 percent of all victims
were women, 33 percent of detected victims were children and 18 percent – men.
Of all convicted traffickers 72 percent were men and 28 percent – women (United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2014).
Most people who are with irregular
employment or migration status are affected by trafficked forced labor. It is
necessary to admit that human trafficking is one of the most profitable crimes
as it generates billions of dollars. The main problem concerning human
trafficking is that it is a hidden crime because victims rarely admit they were
trafficked in most cases because of fear (U.S. Department of Homeland
Security). As many victims are usually threatened and intimidated by
traffickers they do not want to cooperate with the criminal justice system and
as a result, there is still a low number of convictions of human trafficking (United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2014).
In the world-wide scale, the most
common type of human trafficking is sexual exploitation as it affects around 79
percent of all victims. Labor trafficking is less frequently detected. What is
also pressing, 20 percent of all victims are children. In some regions of
Africa, children are even the majority of trafficking victims (United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime
In the period of 2008 – 2010
according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the United
States, 2515 suspected incidents of human trafficking has
been opened. “About 8 in 10 of them
were classified as sex trafficking, and about 1 in 10 incidents were classified
as labor trafficking”
(Banks and Kychelhahn 2011).
Despite human trafficking is a
global problem, there are still some factors that explain why it occurs in
these or those parts of the world. According to the article of Mohsen Rezaeian,
human trafficking “mostly occurs in those parts of the world where law and
order is disrupted due to poverty, unemployment, war, armed convicts, natural
disasters, social unrest due to existence of nondemocratic governments”
(Rezaeian 2016: 32). This means that cause and effect relationship is obvious.
As a confirmation of such statement, the data of 2016 from different countries
in the study are presented: out of 45.8 million enslaved people, 58 percent are
from such countries as India, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Bangladesh. The
countries with the highest prevalence of human trafficking are North Korea,
Cambodia, India, Pakistan Sudan, Iraq,
Afghanistan (Rezaeian 2016: 34).
Women and children are the main victims of the human
trafficking and to be accurate, the main victims of sexual exploitation.
According to the data between 800,000 to 4,000,000 women and children have been
trafficked around the world annually. The study of sexual exploitation in
Mexico states that children from poor families are mostly trafficked by
American tourists. There is explained the connection between the prostitution
as Mexico is the second country in the world in terms of prostitution and
exploitation of under-age persons. “U.S. Department of State extensively
recognized Mexico is a source, transit and destination country of women and
children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation” (Acharya, Suarez
and Ontiveros 2016:
11). Because of such statistics, the country enforces
different anti-trafficking laws and reforms.
According to one of the researches
on the human trafficking issue, it is possible to identify the third type of
this crime according to its purpose: organ trafficking. Nevertheless, it is
stated that the government of the United States is trying to curb these three
forms of human trafficking differently. Efforts against sex trafficking were
focused in 2000, attention to the labor trafficking was paid in 2005 and organ
trafficking has fallen outside the scope of the US Department altogether (Efrat
2015: 3). It is necessary to know that despite organ trafficking is less
researched in social science, it is more prevalent in comparison with organ
trafficking. Efrat provides the example of Israel as a country that launched
vigorous efforts against sex trafficking whereas the efforts of the government
against labor and organ trafficking were less intense (11).
One of the important issues
concerning human trafficking is the necessity to be aware of the physical and
mental long-term health problems of trafficking survivors. A research on Human
Trafficking and Health that involved 150 victims of trafficking concluded that
among the severe physical symptoms are headaches, tiredness, back pain, dizzy
spells and memory problems. Around 70 percent of victims suffered depression,
anxiety disorders or posttraumatic stress disorder. 38 percent of people
admitted they had suicidal ideation (Oram 2016: 1077).
looking at human trafficking, it is important to find out the driving factors
or what motivates the perpetrators to participate in human trafficking. The
factors also vary from one country to another. According to Organization for
Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), human trafficking is a complex
occurrence influenced by a variety of factors including culture, economic
wellbeing and social status. Some local conditions such as contravention of
human rights, poverty and political instability motivate populations to migrate
in search of a better life. In most cases, people fleeing from instability in
their own country lack appropriate travelling documentation. When such people
get into the host countries, they become vulnerable to human trafficking as
perpetrators take advantage of their situations. Such people who have been
pushed out of their countries suffer through forced labor as they seek for
means of livelihood (UNODC.org). Other than the push forces, pull forces such
as wealth may cause people to migrate to other countries. Such pull forces are
rampant through the social media and increase the desire for people to move
into the countries that express limitless opportunities for wealth creation. Saudi
Arabia as an example has been vilified for human right abuse on working
migrants who form a third of the workers in the Kingdom. People are subjected
to unfair trials and execution and work in conditions that resemble ancient
slavery in a society that deeply discriminates against gender, religion and
race (Hrw.org: np). A culture that promotes gender inequality makes women and
girls vulnerable to trafficking for sexual exploitation. In addition to the
above, border porosity, corruption, collaboration between government officials
and Organized International Criminal organizations and the weak commitment to
enforce border control all contribute to human trafficking.
trafficking industry generates up to USD 150 Billion annually. For such an
industry to thrive, there has to be forces of demand and supply in play. The
industry produces cheap labor and minimal risk. Most of the children and women
who are trafficked end up as sex slaves. The sex trafficking sector produces
immense profits with margins exceeding 70 percent (Molloy: np). The margins
correlate well with those from all forms of forced labor. The demand for cheap
labor to drive margins is high. With poor border patrolling, border porosity
and corruption, and the little risk of criminal prosecution, it is becoming
increasingly easy for traffickers to procure and move people illegally. Demand
is a key drive for the human trafficking industry. The sex and entertainment
sector is a key creator of demand for the trafficking industry. Men and sex entrepreneurs
such as pimps create the demand for women for use in prostitution. The sex
entrepreneurs make specifications for the physical attributes they want in the
women and girls initiating the cycle of trafficking. The demand for women in
prostitution is increasingly becoming a normal phenomenon with some countries
establishing legal frameworks for the protection of the sex industry player.
The sex industry is lucrative and generates millions of dollars annually in
states that have legalized sex trade. The key beneficiaries of the business are
the states in terms of taxes and the organized crime groups that run the
businesses. These businesses depend on the normalization of flow for foreign
women who can be exploited sexually. In Netherlands, for example, prostitution
is legal. Since its legalization in the year 2000, sex trade has tripled and
turned into USD 1 Billion industry annually. The number of local women is not
adequate and 70 per cent come from non-European countries to meet the demand
(Hughes and Endowed: 2). On the supply side, regions experiencing mass
migrations are already disadvantaged suffering from high levels of
unemployment, poor institutions of education and law and low wages. Migration
becomes the only way to increase economic opportunities and obtain a
comfortable livelihood (Mahmoud and Trebesch: 10).
proposes some measure that may be used to combat the scourge of human
trafficking. The measures are either dependent on the country of origin of the
victims, the country of arrival, or a collaboration of both countries. The
measures are mostly about establishing policies that change the economic and
social status which are the root causes of human trafficking. In the countries
of origin, UNODC recommends improving children’s access to education, awareness
creation, and boosting levels of school attendance. The organization also
proposes women empowerment through facilitation of business incentives for
establishment of small and medium enterprises. UNODC also proposes the establishment
of multifaceted agencies that monitor gather data and intelligence on the sex
industry in an effort to uncover exploitation and places where demand exists.
Dialogue between governments involved in the chain should be conducted in an
effort to liberate the labor markets in order to increase employment
opportunities for workers. Similarly, the receiving government should establish
a framework to address unprotected and informal labor striking a balance
between inexpensive labor and the possibility of legal migration. Mahmoud and
Trebesch (9) argue that human trafficking is an unavoidable consequence due to
the wide disparities in income between the origin and destination countries and
closed borders. As a combined measure,
countries experiencing mass emigration can collaborate with those receiving the
immigrants by raising levels of social protection and creating employment for
all. Policies should also be put into place to stop discrimination against
women by allowing them to have equal access and control over financial
the margins experienced from human trafficking, it would be almost impossible
to utterly stop it. The challenge is gigantic due to the level of social
activism and the need to diversify economic activities that bring in income in
terms of taxes. For example, it would be impossible for countries such as the
Netherlands to criminalize prostitution and shut down an industry that
generates USD one Billion annually. Efforts can therefore only focus on
mitigation and creating of a better environment in host countries for those who
in one way or another find themselves in the trafficking scourge. Policy
measures should be put in place to counter human trafficking by countries opening
up their borders through legal means. Awareness creation campaigns should be
carried out in countries that experience high migration rates. Governments that
require cheap labor should set up labor market information systems on job
availability and establish model employment contracts to prevent exploitation.
Governments globally should also revise their restrictive immigration policies
to prevent pushing would-be-immigrants to illegal channels that make them
vulnerable to trafficking. With the growing population and diminishing
employment opportunities, ending human trafficking may be a farfetched dream as
long as the migration pressure keeps mounting. It would take collaboration of
the global family to expose the scourge and employ mechanisms that make the job
market liberal and accommodative to diverse sets of skills.
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