Introduction to Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a well-known crime and illegal trade which seriously violates human rights, it is the third-largest crime in the whole world. Every year there are thousands of people who fall victim to this crime either in their own countries or abroad, most countries in the world are affected by this trade either being the country of its origin, transit, or destination. Trafficking in persons is the illegal transportation or transfer of individuals by means such as coercion, force, fraud, or deception, with the intent to exploit them (Unseen UK 2019). Human trafficking consists of three elements; the act (what is done) this is the illegal transporting and movement of individuals, the means (how it’s done) this is the use of force, coercion, abuse of power, deception, etc. and the last element is the purpose (why is it done) it is usually done for the sole purpose of exploitation (UNODC 2019). It is a form of modern-day slavery and it is most popular in parts of the world such as sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, South-East Asia, and others. Not less than 40 million people around the world are estimated to be victims of modern-day slavery, human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises, the number of victims is rising by the minute due to the increase of conflict, poverty, and crises in the world. Countries like North Korea, Eritrea, and Burundi are estimated to have the world’s highest rates of modern-day slavery, with India, China, and Pakistan home to the largest number of victims (relief web n.d.).
Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar venture which generates a revenue of 150.2 US billion dollars in illegal profits every year for traffickers and slave masters, more than one-third of these profits are gotten from forced labor exploitation and the rest are getting from sexual exploitation, these profits are at their highest in Asia and developed economies due to the high number of victims in the Asia-pacific region (11.7 million) and the high profit per victim in developed economies ($34,800 per victim). Victims of sexual exploitation garner the highest profits for traffickers, at a global average of $21,800 per victim (Human Trafficking Center 2019).
Types of Human Trafficking
There are different types of human trafficking such as Trafficking for forced labor, trafficking for forced criminal activities, trafficking in women for sexual exploitation, trafficking for the removal of organs, and people smuggling (INTERPOL 2019). Victims of trafficking for forced labor are usually gotten from developing countries they are lured in by coercion and deception, they are promised good jobs and all sorts of luxuries but end up working in unimaginable situations with very little or no pay, they end up working in factories, manufacturing, agriculture, fishing, etc. Trafficking for forced criminal activities usually involves victims that are forced to carry out illegal activities in turn for income, they usually work for gangs who need people to sell drugs, move drugs or smuggle it for them and end up getting a little share, this usually puts the victims in a very life-threatening situation it becomes very hard for them to escape from their traffickers, they also end up being beggars, pickpockets, selling counterfeit goods, etc. In a lot of countries the waiting lists for transplants are very long so criminals see this as an opportunity to exploit the desperate patients by selling organs of their victims to them, the victims who formally or informally agree end up being cheated because they are not paid for the organ or are paid less than promised, many victims of organ harvesting are kidnapped and have their organs removed without their consent. Many migrants fall victim to people smuggling it is the illegal act of transporting people from one country to another, they are carried across the borders to work in terrible conditions.
Victims of Human Trafficking
Millions of people are affected directly by human trafficking an estimated 40.3 million people worldwide were in modern slavery, 81% of them are trapped in forced labor, 25% of them are children and 75% are women and girls. According to the ILO, 24.9 million people are victims of forced labor, and 15.4 million people are trapped in forced marriages, Out of the 24.9 million victims of forced labor, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction, or agriculture; 4.8 million persons in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million persons in forced labor imposed by state authorities (ILO 2017). Human trafficking is a trade that affects people of all genders and from different parts of the world irrespective of their age, this shows how dangerous of a trade human trafficking is and that anyone can fall victim to. 71% of human trafficking victims are women and girls, 3 out of 4 women and girls who have been trafficked are sexually exploited while the remaining 29% are men and boys (stop the traffic 2019). Women and girls are excessively affected by forced labor, they are the 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors (ILO 2017). Of every 1000 people in the world, 5.4 are victims of modern-day slavery, statistics also show that 30.2 million victims which are 75% are 18 and over while the remaining 10.1 million the 25% are children under 18 (stop the traffic n.d.).
Traffickers are always looking for their next prey, they usually look for people that can be easily deceived, coerced, or are vulnerable. Many situations render people vulnerable such as political instability things like war, conflict, lawlessness, and natural disasters makes people very desperate for survival and a way to earn a living, traffickers target them and promise them jobs and better living conditions if they meet their criteria, they end up using them and making them victims of human trafficking making it difficult for them to go back to their normal lives. Poverty creates hopelessness. Traffickers target poor and struggling areas to offer vulnerable individuals fake opportunities to help their situations. Such people are more likely to take greater risks to provide for themselves and their families (British Columbia 2019). Traffickers generally prey on disabled people, members of marginalized societies impoverished populations and victims and survivors of interpersonal violence and homelessness are also at increased risk.
The Effects of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking can have a very negative physical, psychological and mental effect on the victims, it can drastically change the victim’s life forever. Victims of trafficking in persons can suffer from so very devastating psychological effects, either during or after their trafficking experience. Most of them end up experiencing post-traumatic stress they find it very difficult to interact with people and form relationships because of how they have been abused, it becomes harder for them to trust and believe people, and often feel very scared and insecure. They suffer from guilt, shame, memory loss, depression, fear, anxiety, and other severe forms of mental trauma (The Exodus Road 2019).
The victims experience a lot of physical harm and end up in life-threatening situations they are treated in a very inhumane way by their traffickers they are physically abused on a daily because force and coercion is the biggest part of human trafficking because that’s how they get them to do what they want. The victims are beaten, raped, and abused over a very long period. Victims who are sexually exploited are also sexually abused by their traffickers, this makes them vulnerable to contracting sexually transmitted diseases, infections, cancer, and other illnesses because of the lack of proper medical care the victim’s health ends up becoming worse and often affecting an individual’s health permanently.
Individuals who are being trafficked usually distance themselves from friends and family this occurs because the person feels ashamed for the situation that they are in, they feel guilty for living their families and friends. When some of these individuals escape or return home they end up being ostracized by society and excluded from social gatherings, some become shunned by their families and start to feel depressed and worthless, unfortunately, this isolation can make them more vulnerable and up being trafficked again.
Human trafficking also has negative effects on society and the economy. Human trafficking affects families in a society where people are constantly being trafficked because they end up losing members of their families and it also leads to the family members becoming ostracized. The economy is also affected in regards to when people are searching for migration opportunities for employment then they end up being victims of human trafficking, leading to a substantial remittance loss.
Human trafficking has also become a source of profits to sponsor other crimes especially terrorism. The UN has reported that the Yazidi women are being bought and sold by ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) fighters in slave auctions, and other terrorist groups like Boko Haram use children as beggars to raise funds. There have also been a large number of instances where numerous terrorist organizations profiting from exploiting vulnerable people in their areas of control, including by coercing young men and boys to fight for the terrorist groups (FATF 2018:15).
There have been multiple attempts made to stop human trafficking by countries, organizations, and individuals. I will be focusing on the United Nations and its members attempt to stop and control the trade, the establishment of UN GIFT was made possible by a grant from the United Arab Emirates and has continued to receive financial aid from governments of Australia, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Austria as well as UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNDP, the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships and public donations. established Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN GIFT), it was formally launched in London on 26 March 2007 the main purpose of UN GIFT is to prevent possible victims from becoming prey to traffickers, protecting those who do, and punishing the criminals involved in the trade (UNODC 2016). The UN GIFT’s mission is to mobilize both state and non-state actors to annihilate human trafficking by decreasing both the vulnerability of potential victims and the demand for exploitation in all its forms; guaranteeing enough protection and support to those who fall victim; and supporting the efficient prosecution of the criminals involved, while respecting the fundamental human rights of all persons, and creating global awareness on human trafficking (UNODC 2016). The united nations have been trying to spread awareness of human trafficking around the world, the UN adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.