Human trafficking, also referred to as the modern-day slave trade, is a complex and multi-dimensional form of exploitation of human beings. This growing crime violates labor, public health, and human rights standards worldwide. It is conducted by organized, sophisticated criminal enterprises, decentralized criminal networks, family members, small businesses, and individuals. This global epidemic of forced labor generates an estimated US$ 44.3 billion annually (1), contributing to corruption and undermining the rule of law.
Victims of human trafficking and modern slavery work in factories, fields, brothels, street corners, as child soldiers, in private homes, or in innumerable other settings, hidden behind walls and yet also in plain view. Every day we need to Know the Signs to be able to identify individuals who are being exploited directly in our communities and be cognizant of the sources of the products we purchase.
Human Trafficking and modern slavery can occur internally within countries as well as across borders. Traffickers use tactics such as transporting individuals into areas with language barriers or isolating them from friends and family to remove them from any supportive resources.
Policy advisors, law enforcement, direct service providers, researchers, educators, students and the general public play a vital role in addressing modern-day slavery. The needs of survivors of trafficking are among the most complex of crime victims, often requiring: a multidisciplinary approach to addressing severe trauma including physical, psychological and medical needs; immigration, legal and financial support; and safety, shelter and other basic assistance.
To be effective abolitionists, we must Be Informed about the different presentations and realities of modern-day slavery. Human Trafficking has an Impact on individuals around the globe-- expert Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves estimates that 27 million people are currently held in slavery, impacting families and communities worldwide.
Each of us must Take Action which can range from reporting an incident, to participating in awareness campaigns, to becoming outspoken advocates for the purpose of abolishing modern-day slavery.
As people aware of human trafficking, we can offer our strength as advocates on behalf of slaves in our communities and around the world. Victims of trafficking may be subjected to psychological trauma and are often placed under dangerously unhealthy living conditions. Consider the Culture as well as social, economic and political factors when working on issues related to human trafficking.
Read the U.S. Department of State Report here:
Trafficking in Persons Report 2012, U.S, State Department
Human trafficking around the Globe: For an insight into the issues across the world:
Data and Research on Human Trafficking: A Global Survey Frank Laczko, ElzbietaGozdziak, 2005
According to the UN Palermo Protocol, trafficking in persons is defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of a 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 and receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”
Who are Trafficked Persons? They may be:
Who are the Traffickers? They may be:
Who are the Facilitators? They may be:
What tactics do Traffickers use to intimidate victims?
What factors lead to Trafficking?
Traffickers target women, girls and men who are increasingly affected by poverty, lack of access to education, unemployment, discrimination, and lack of economic opportunities in countries of origin. a. Within the United States, abuse and neglect are common factors leading to trafficking and traffickers prey on runaway and “throwaway” youth. The trafficker who is most likely a trusted individual lures them with promises of a better life with decent working conditions and a healthy environment.
Looking for more information on how the criminal justice system defines trafficking?
Anti-human Trafficking manual for criminal justice practitioners; Module 1: Definitions of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants
Globally 218 million children ages 5-17 are being exploited for the benefit of others. As children are more easily manipulated and require fewer resources to survive, the use of child labor has increased at the same time as poverty, globalization, and the demand for cheap labor. Children may be abducted, sacrificed for the betterment of the family as a whole, or promised an education by their trafficker. They are trafficked into domestic work, sexual exploitation, hazardous child labor, begging and other illegal activities such as stealing, illegal adoption or early marriage.
For a better understanding of the exploitation of children and what you can do about it:
Kids as Commodities? Child Trafficking and what to do about it, Terre des Hommes
For a tangible end of child labour within our reach:
The End of Child Labour: Within Reach
It is illegal to recruit through force, fraud, or coercion children under the age of 18 as combatants or in other roles associated with a conflict, such as messengers, sex slaves/'wives', servants, or cooks*. Despite this, 300,000 children under the age of 15 are associated with fighting forces. Perpetrators not only include rebel groups, but also government forces and paramilitary organizations. Reintegration into their communities can be extremely difficult due to psychological and physiological damage.
For a more in depth report about child soldier specifics:
Child Soldiers: Global Report 2008, Coalition to Stop the Use of child Soldiers
*For a quick factsheet on Child Soldiers:
Factsheet: Child Soldiers
As many as two million children are lured, sold, or kidnapped for the purpose of sexual exploitation in hotels, night clubs, brothels, massage parlors, private residences, on sex tours, and online services*. Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for minors, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and possible death.
For an analytical review of trafficking in children for sexual purposes:
Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes: An analytical Review
For a quick factsheet on commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children:
Factsheet on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children
Labor exploitation is work obtained from a person under threat, real or perceived, and for which the person has not offered themselves voluntarily. Factors of vulnerability increase in conjunction with high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption, political conflict, or cultural practice.
For an overview of adult and child labor exploitation:
Trafficking for the purposes of labour exploitation: a literature Review, Home Office
For a quick fact sheet on labor exploitation:
Fact Sheet: labor Exploitation, World Vision
Bonded labor is identified as a practice similar to slavery, because it involves a debt that cannot be paid off in a reasonable time. The employer/enforcer artificially inflates the amount of debt, often adding exorbitant interest or charges for living expenses, deducting little or nothing from the debt and increasing the amount of time the individual must work. It is a cycle of debt where there is no hope for freedom.
Interested in the role of labor brokers in the global economy and how their presence can create hiring traps for migrant workers?
Summary Report—Help Wanted: Hiring, Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery in Global Economy
How does generational debt bondage affect the children of families? For figures and explanation:
Exploitation of Child Labor and the Dynamics of Debt Bondage, Arnab K. Basu and Nancy H. Chau
Involuntary servitude occurs when a domestic worker becomes ensnared in an exploitative situation they are unable to escape. Typically in private homes, the individual is forced to work for little or no pay while confined to the boundaries of their employer’s property. This isolation keeps them from communicating with family or any other type of support network, increasing the subjection to psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.
For a glimpse into the lack of legal protection for involuntary domestic servitude:
Involuntary Domestic Servitude, State Department
To better understand the problem of domestic servitude and see what role you can play to address this:
Unprotected Work, Invisible Exploitation: Trafficking for the Purpose of Domestic Servitude, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), at least 1.39 million victims of human trafficking are used for commercial sexual exploitation. This includes movement across borders, as well as within the victim’s own country. The perceived inferior status of women in many parts of the world has contributed to the expansion of the trafficking industry. Sex trafficking is accomplished by means of fraud, deception, threat of or use of force, abuse of a position of vulnerability, and other forms of coercion. Each year, there is an estimated global profit of $27.8 billion (1) for forced commercial sexual exploitation.
For a critical examination of the sex market:
Trafficking, Demand and the Sex Market, Lin Lean Lim
Without a demand, there would be no need for trafficking for sexual exploitation. For more about the demand factors of trafficking:
The Problem of Demand in Combating Sex Trafficking; International Review of Penal Law, Shared Hope International
DISCLAIMER: Disparity in modern slavery statistics made by The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns report, April 2006: “Due to its clandestine nature, accurate statistics on the magnitude of the human trafficking problem at any level are elusive and unreliable. Figures that are available range from the actual number of victims rescued or repatriated to estimates of the total number of trafficked victims in existence. The lack of reliable statistics can be attributed to a number of factors… [One of these problems] is the tendency to, often unknowingly, mix data related to human trafficking, migrant-smuggling and irregular migration, which convolutes the true human trafficking picture. In addition, data is often collected only on cases of trans-border human trafficking and not on internal human trafficking.”