Servitude, Oppression..elements of slavery, or Human Trafficking
Slavery. Oppression. Bondage. Servitude. Captive. Confinement. Many words, and there are more, that apply to human trafficking. Human trafficking is fast becoming the major exploitation of the human body and spirit. A modern day form of slavery. It not only takes place in the poorest of societies but also in the richest. It takes place worldwide. All fifty states in the United States have reported human trafficking. Along with the other things I mentioned above, loss of freedom cannot be forgotten. While I know all the words above pertain to a loss of freedom, it seems to me that the words above, nor can the phrase "loss of freedom" encompass or come close to all that goes with being the victim of human trafficking.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), human trafficking is defined as, "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation."1
Force, coercion, and fraud are different ways people are recruited, or lured, with the promise of paid employment or a legitimate job. In most cases they are then provided with transportation to their new place of employment. Often the place of employment is in another country. When they have arrived in their new home and country, their documents and identification are taken from them. They are not provided with new forms of identification. The majority of the traffickers are natives of the country where the trafficking process occurs. In many of the cases the recruiter is known to the victim, the percentage of recruiters being known by the victim versus being a stranger are almost half. Being a stranger to the victim represents about 54% of the recruiters of trafficking.
It is estimated that up to 2 million people are in human trafficking at any time. Approximately 161 countries are affected as a result of human trafficking, whether they are the source, the transition area or the destination area.
- 1.4 million – 56% - are in Asia and the Pacific
- 250,000 – 10% - are in Latin America and the Caribbean
- 230,000 – 9.2% - are in the Middle East and Northern Africa
- 130,000 – 5.2% - are in sub-Saharan countries
- 270,000 – 10.8% - are in industrialized countries
- 200,000 – 8% - are in countries in transition" 2
Some of the countries where most victims of trafficking end up are Australia, Brazil, India, Israel, Japan and others including the United States.
As for prosecuting the perpetrators, the numbers are not very encouraging.
- "In 2006 there were only 5,808 prosecutions and 3,160 convictions throughout the world
- This means that for every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted in 2006" 3
Victims of trafficking come from all walks of life, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, single or married, adult or child. There is no particular criteria that exempts one from from being a possible victim of trafficking. There are groups that are targeted. 18 - 24 years are targeted, most being children. The numbers of children who are victims of trafficking are estimated at 1.2 million per year. Many are people from poor, rural areas who lack education and/or come from poverty-stricken families. Many do have a mid-level education. Many are also victims of previous abuse within their own communities.
"Trafficking in persons is emerging as one of the most serious and complex human rights challenges. The scale of human trafficking is notoriously difficult to determine, with global estimates ranging anywhere from 500,000 to several million people trafficked every year. However, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of victims are women and children". 4
Economic exploitation is most often the reason for entrapping a victim of human trafficking. Many experience sexual or physical violence during trafficking. Most are used for forced sexual exploitation in order to make money for the traffickers. Those used for forced economic exploitation, that includes those who are forced to labor in fields or work within the domestic arena as maids and housekeepers. The numbers for forced sexual exploitation are much higher than the latter. "The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are at least 12.3 million individuals in forced or bonded labor at any time. They estimate that at least 1.39 million are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and that 56 percent of all trafficking victims are female." 5
Once a victim has been entrapped, their papers are taken from them. Many are forced in to sexual exploitation on their first night. Many are taken from their country of origin to another country on the promise of employment as a housekeeper or maid, a cook, or working in retail of some kind. The construction and manufacturing industries are some areas of commerce which exploit people. They are also physically, mentally and sexually abused. Many are charged exorbitant fees, such as housing costs, food, smuggling fees and drug habits. The fees can be so high that it would be impossible to repay. Without papers, the traffickers also instill the victims with fear, fear of deportment, fear of physical abuse of any kind or even fear of of being charged by officials for engagement in any illegal activities that their traffickers have imposed upon the victim.
There are also effects of human trafficking upon society, not just the victim:
- Perpetuates social inequalities, especially to developing societies.
- Public health issues in cost and treat to others
- Erosion of authority
- Traffickers work with impunity across borders with the involvement of organized crime
- Losses to the community in terms of human and social investment
Upon the victim:
- Vulnerable to a multitude of health issues, from HIV/Aids to pregnancy or drug addiction
Over the last ten years human trafficking has gained increasing attention than in the past. Globally governments are enacting more policies and laws to combat the problem of trafficking. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent towards this end. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) formally launched a global initiative to fight Human Trafficking. The UNODC helps around the world draft laws and develop anti-trafficking strategies. The challenge is taking theory and turning it in to reality.
Some ways to recognize a victim of human trafficking:
- "Lack of freedom to leave home or working conditions
- Few or no personal possessions or financial records
- Lack of knowledge of a community, frequent movement
- Under 18 and providing commercial sex
- Not in control of own documents (passport, birth certificates
- Signs of physical abuse, restraint, malnourishment, lack of general health care
- Inconsistencies in story, "just visiting"
- Individual owes a large debt and cannot pay it off" 6
Human Trafficking is becoming more and more of a problem in this world, it is a global problem and takes advantage of people in a multitude of ways and of numerous types of people. It is not limited to one area or one type of person. Your neighbor or a family member can place you in a position that can be terrifying to you. You can be approached anywhere, from the local airport to a local hotel by a stranger.
If you are interested in learning more about Human Trafficking I have provided some links:
When I decided, as an inexperienced writer, to write about this subject I had NO idea of the amount of information there is out there to sort through. None. If you find anything incomplete or incorrect, my apologies, it is/was not intended and I can only beg for mercy.
1 From Human Trafficking Facts written by By Tulika Nair Published: 11/2/2010 http://www.buzzle.com/articles/human-trafficking-facts.html
3 US State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report (2007) p.36
4 From UN Women http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/women_war_peace/human_trafficking.php