Human Trafficking In Sexual Exploitation: The Effects It Can Have Individually And Globally

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Human trafficking can have an effect physically, psychologically and economically on anyone involved (Fair Trade Winds, 2014). This major criminal enterprise has the power to impact someone’s life forever.

Sexual exploitation in human trafficking is, ‘the recruitment, harbouring, transportation of persons whom under threat, force, coercion, fraud, deception or abuse of power are sexually exploited for the financial gain of another’ (End Slavery Now, 2019). It is currently a major global issue, seen as under the guise of ‘modern slavery’. Through the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and collaborations with other highly reliable organisations, it was estimated that in 2016, ‘3.8 million adults and 1 million children were victims of commercial sexual exploitation’ (International Labour Organisation; Walk Free Foundation; International Organisation for Migration, 2017) in 2016. Whilst it is difficult for the data to be highly credible due to the number of victims who are either unfound or do not speak up, the ILO is a reliable and credible organisation that uses numerous other sources to collate an incredibly reliable statistic. This, therefore, increases the dependability and credibility of the data.

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Experiencing any form of human trafficking, especially in relation to sexual exploitation is incredibly traumatic and can leave devastating effects on, not only the victims, but also the surrounding family members, friends, etc. A primary case study conducted with two women; survivors of human trafficking, conveys the immense trauma they face not only during the awful experience, but also the harrowing effects they face afterwards. Anneke Lucas, born in Belgium, was put to work as a sex slave as a little girl by her mother (Lucas, 2016). She was sold to work for the boss of a paedophile network, in which the clients were members of the elite (Lucas, 2016). Anneke faced horrific sexual abuse as a child that forever damaged her psychologically. Although she survived, Anneke continually struggles, ‘with PTSD and nausea whenever I hear a certain kind of airy, trippy music’ (Lucas, 2016) that are triggers to past experiences she faced.

Furthermore, the case study with Sophie Hayes; a young woman who was groomed and coerced into sexually exploiting herself by her supposed ‘best friend’. For six months, Sophie became a prostitute in order to earn money for her trafficker; a man who she groomed her into believing they were best friends and then trapped her in a foreign country to exploit for his gain (Hayes, 2012). Sophie’s experience had a traumatic effect on her, she created a new persona, becoming someone different in order to survive those months (Hayes, 2012). She experienced horrendous conditions, where she faced violence from all corners of her life, constantly stressed and anxious, consistently debilitated and faced continuous abuse, mentally and physically from her trafficker. Many of these incidences occur, due to the fact that society, mainly men, view women as objects. Whilst the equality between men and women has increased around the world, in the sex trade society there is, ‘unbalanced power relations between men and women’ (Schulze & Canto, 2014), which continues to feed this enterprise. These traffickers, which are predominantly men, are culturally taught to see the vulnerability in women and exploit them for their own gain.

Through studying the Declaration of Human Rights, it is clear that Sophie’s rights and Anneke’s were stripped from them, mainly Article 4 and 5, in which they were subjected to, ‘cruel and degrading treatment and punishment’ (Draft Committee, 1948), but also were, ‘held in slavery’ (Draft Committee, 1948). Even after surviving, Sophie’s everyday life is affected. At first she fell into a state of depression, feeling, ‘I don’t want to be in this world anymore’ (Hayes, 2012) and that she does not want to, ‘go on living’ (Hayes, 2012). Further, instinctive actions control areas of her life, ‘I jump at every loud noise and flinch if anyone raises a hand near me’ (Hayes, 2012) and whilst they may seem small, these actions indicate a traumatic impact on her, mentally.

Whilst the effect human trafficking has on the victims is harrowing and horrendous, it is not the only effect that this enterprise has on the population. Human trafficking only profits the traffickers, pimps and employers; it is a profitable business for only the offenders and economically affects the world. It was estimated that human trafficking globally generates 150 billion in illegal profits a year – 99 billion from sex trafficking, as shown in Figure 1 (Fair Trade Winds, 2014). The profits accrued from this illegal business do not add to the GDP of a nation, instead they are a tremendous loss to the economy and national security of all nations (Grewal, 2018). Furthermore, the human trafficking enterprise has been linked as a source of funding for terrorist activities (Financial Action Task Force (FATF), 2018). Terrorist organisations have been connected with using human trafficking as a way to nurture and support their activities. If social connections are spurring between illegal enterprises, it is providing these societies to continually to exploit others without detection. Although these enterprises may not approve of their cultural beliefs, they will use the means provided in order to continue their personal gain. It was stated in a highly credible report, that in 2016, ISIL fighters used encrypted communications on various networks to auction enslaved Yazidi women and using the profits to further their organisation (United Nations University, 2016). Human trafficking is a huge economic disadvantage to all nations and an advantage to other illegal groups that can profit from the business. These various sources, whilst secondary, use an enormous amount of information through other organisations, collaborating to create sufficient credible data that shows the effect human trafficking has globally and individually. Figure 1: displays the data collated on human trafficking (Fair Trade Winds, 2014)

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation is a horrific enterprise that affects the world. It does not discriminate and has no stereotypes; affecting all. The cost of human trafficking to victims is significant and often life-long; the violation of their human rights and impact the experience has on their physical and mental health is appalling. Human trafficking not only affects the victims in the moment but will forever be a part of their lives. Furthermore, globally this enterprise has a dramatic effect on the economy, not only profiting just the traffickers but also funding other terrorist activities. Whilst allowing this illegal enterprise to continue, not only is our population experiencing a ghastly way of life but the world is feeling a tremendous loss to national security and economy.


  1. Draft Committee, 1948. Declaration of Human Rights, Paris: s.n. End Slavery Now, 2019. Sex Trafficking. [Online] Available at:[Accessed 31 October 2019].
  2. Fair Trade Winds, 2014. Human Trafficking, s.l.: s.n. Financial Action Task Force (FATF), 2018. Human Trafficking - Terrorism , s.l.: s.n.
  3. Grewal, S., 2018. Human Trafficking: Threat to Economic Security of a Nation, s.l.: BusinessWorld.
  4. Hayes, S., 2012. Trafficked. London: HarperCollins .
  5. International Labour Organisation; Walk Free Foundation; International Organisation for Migration, 2017. Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, s.l.: s.n.
  6. Interpol, 2019. Types of Human Trafficking, s.l.: s.n. Lucas, A., 2016. Real Women, Real Stories [Interview] (19 December 2016).
  7. Schulze, E. & Canto, S. I. N., 2014. Sexual Exploitation and Prositituion and its Impact on Gender Equality, s.l.: s.n. United Nations University, 2016. Fighting Human Trafficing in Conflict: 10 Ideas for Action by the United Nations Security Council, s.l.: s.n.
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Human Trafficking In Sexual Exploitation: The Effects It Can Have Individually And Globally. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
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