The Three Aspects Of Human Trafficking

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The beginning of the twentieth century saw with it a rise in the attention of policymakers around the world to combat human trafficking as a means of protecting human rights and dignity. The United Nations has agreed upon a definition of trafficking in persons which includes the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the 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 (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2019).

In 2000, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act was sanctioned by the US government in the fight against human trafficking. During the same year, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children was signed. The United Nation also passed resolutions like the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons (Efrat, 2014). The policies that have been discussed above have been established based on the premise that the three aspects of crimes that are a part of the definition of human trafficking, namely, sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, and the removal of organs (Efrat, 2014) fall under one category. When looking at the policies made worldwide, the policymakers have failed to differentiate human trafficking based on those three aspects.

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This paper highlights the trends that are observed in different forms of human trafficking activities across the world in order to recognize the potential causes of the initiation and proliferation of activities in hopes of combating such activities and protecting human rights. Despite the recent attention by popular media and the changes in the policies worldwide, trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation is a worldwide problem that affects hundreds of thousands of women. Sexual trafficking includes abduction, deception, seduction and forced prostitution in order to cater to the needs of men (Kara, 2009).

The sexual trafficking industry generates a cash flow of billions of dollars internationally (Finkel & Finkel, 2014). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime have reported that the hotspots of illegal trade of humans include developing countries like Albania, Bulgaria, China, Moldova, Nigeria, and Thailand; who are then trafficked to developed countries like Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Israel, Turkey and the United States (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2019). When looking at the trends of human trafficking from 155 different countries, commercial sexual exploitation comes out to be the most prevalent forms of exploitation accounting to 79% of the analyzed sample (UNODC, 2009). This prevalence and the potential growth of the sex trafficking industry can be explained by the profitability that is generated by a single sex slave where the net annual profit is accounted at $27, 315 (Kara, 2009).

The prevalence and the recorded growth of the sex trafficking industry can be attributed to causes that have their roots in the imbalances in the socioeconomic society, globalization (Bertone, 1999), and rise in online technology (Sarkar, 2015). Globalization results in greater connectedness between societies which thereby results in a breakdown of borders, and an increase in the mobility of people across borders. One disadvantage of this is an imbalance that may be created between societies, which would then result in organizations taking advantage of people by promising them better access to facilities and resources upon migration to the more developed society.

In many cases, traffickers use debt bondage, threats, fraud, and coercion in order to make sure that their victims are forced to work. The promised transmigration in order to gain better access to resources ultimately results in the victims to be slaves of the traffickers due to the traffickers’ demands of high prices for transportation, visa, food, and clothes (Batsyukova, 2007). The victims become prey of the traffickers and are used as sex slaves where they are exposed to violence and abuse (Batsyukova, 2007).

An example of such transmigration of humans occurs in Italy where prostitution is legal, and hence there are a large number of victims who fall prey to the advertised economic gain promised by traffickers from Central and Eastern Europe (Smith, 2010). The primary victims come from parts of Moldova, Albania, and Romania and are mostly women that are trafficked as sex slaves in Italy (Smith, 2010).

Another example of such transmigration of victims is evident during global sporting events like the Olympic Games, FIFA world cup, or the U.S. Super Bowl. When such events are hosted by a country, they have the opportunity to improve their markets and their identity, the large media attention is mainly focused on the athletes and the cultural environment. However, the spotlight on the hosting country raises concerns when it attracts the attention of criminal groups who profit from the sexual exploitation of humans (Finkel & Finkel, 2014).

Furthermore, the new technological mediums like camcorders, e-mail, live video and chat rooms make it easy for us to communicate and share information but have also provided a way for organized crime groups to commit crimes using these mediums in an efficient way (Sarkar, 2015). Online technologies give traffickers freedom to exploit their victims and market their services globally without any restrictions. Since the internet is now being used by billions of people, traffickers use that to their advantage to market, recruit, sell and exploit for criminal purposes (Latonero, 2011). For example, men can order foreign women to be their wives by mail-order (Jackson, 2002).

The rising trend in sex trafficking sees with it a potential rise in the incidence of cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and communicable diseases like tuberculosis. Apart from the physical debilitation of victims, there is also an extraordinary amount of mental trauma that the victims undergo through. The abuse of human rights results in poor mental health to persist among the victims which result promote psychological and mental problems (Aston & Paranjape, 2012).

The victims of sex trafficking have been reported to have a greater odds ratio of drug addiction, damage to reproductive organs, and are often victims of suicide (Oram et el., 2012). The impacts of trauma are transferred to their babies as there is a positive correlation between primary exposure to sex trafficking and babies born with syphilis, being HIV positive and presenting with drug withdrawal symptoms (Aston & Paranjape, 2012).

Another form of human trafficking comes in the form of forced labour which is different from sex trafficking. Although labour trafficking victims have been reported to experience sexual abuse (Efrat, 2014), it is still important to define labour trafficking separately from sex trafficking in order for a more accurate global assessment of incidences and better development of laws to combat its prevalence. Labour trafficking can be defined as slavery of modern times where the victims are forced to perform labour or other forms of services without their consent for the activities. The victims are forced, coerced or threatened by private individuals or enterprises (Pérez & Moen, 2017).

Statistically, despite the fact that around 25 million people have been estimated to be victims of forced labour (Pérez & Moen, 2017), it is concerning that policymakers and government organizations have failed to identify these incidences as forms of human trafficking. Most of the attention to trafficking was driven towards combating forced prostitution and sexual exploitation such that the definition of human trafficking was narrowed down to focus mostly on sex trafficking (Zimmerman & Schenker, 2014). A broadened perspective of human trafficking will hence result in the inclusion of and greater attention for human trafficking for forced labour.

One example of forced labour comes from the tobacco industry in areas including Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Children as young as five years old are forced into labour and picking tobacco which therefore impedes their ability to attain education (Otañez et al., 2018). Due to the collusion practices of the tobacco companies, the workers are not paid proper prices for the tobacco leaves that they pick and have also been reported to set unfair contract agreements with the workers. Despite promising paid work, the companies usually fail to abide by their words given to the victims, which in turn results in the victims to have no money for them to be able to leave the tobacco farming industry (Otañez et al., 2018).

Another example comes from the exploitations of migrant workers from East Asia and Eastern Europe who came to Israel looking for work. Israel, facing a shortage of workers due to the decreased availability of cheap Palestinian labour became a source for a large influx of migrants. Because the migrant workers were plentiful and had no knowledge of the language and legal rights, they were easy to exploit; they were given lower wages then Israeli workers, poor working conditions and no employee benefits. These migrants, who were looking for better economic stability were first forced to pay large fees to the companies hiring them for work which ultimately burdened them with large sums of loans. This resulted in migrant workers to tolerate exploitation and abuse without choice (Efrat, 2014).

As evident from the examples in this paper, it seems that poverty is a major source by which victims are dragged into forced labour. Most of the victims of forced labour are reported to have originated from developing countries which are exposed to high levels of corruption (Aston & Paranjape, 2012). The victims are fueled with a belief that there is a potential of receiving better income opportunities following migration, and their actions often seem to be motivated by unemployment and economic instability (Efrat, 2014).

From the 1980s to the 1990s there has been an increasing demand for organ transplants and developing countries like China, Pakistan, Philippines and Egypt have been catching the eye of desperate patients. Due to the rising demand and the absent legal means to receive organs, there has been a growth in the illicit trade of organ trafficking whose victims are impoverished individuals who are paid off by the brokers. (Corfee, 2016). Transplant tourism, a form of organ trafficking in which patients are willing to travel across borders to receive an organ transplant has become popular due to the ease at which patients can communicate with the brokers because of the advancement of different communication technologies and how easy it is to travel internationally (Efrat, 2014). This rise in transplant tourism can be attributed to the two phenomenons reported in this paper, namely Globalization, and an increase in technology.

As the illicit transplant tourism industry expanded, the government started noticing the exploitation against individuals who were selling their organs illegally to brokers. As a way to legally distribute organs, and execute safe organ transplantation, the Organ Transplant Act was introduced (Efrat, 2014). However, many brokers still operate in violation of this law and only some have been prosecuted.

The organ trafficking industry runs as a strategy to meet the transplant shortages. This industry has found a way into the global medical practices and has taken advantage of individuals who are often in distressed circumstances. Most individuals who sell their organs are often from uneducated backgrounds and therefore don’t fully understand the negative consequences of such operations and are taken advantage of. For example, many victims find themselves in a situation where they are forced to sign papers that they don't fully understand and wake up to their organs missing (Lundin, 2010). Sellers suffer from post-surgery complications and don’t receive medical aftercare. Nonetheless, sellers are not the only ones who suffer from the aftermath of a transplant. Many buyers receive mismatched organs and obtain incurable diseases resulting in death. Individuals who do survive a transplant are often the victims of depression, kidney failure, infections and weakness (Efrat, 2014).

The trends, causes and consequences that surround the three different categories of human trafficking that were discussed in this paper have recently been given a spotlight in the media and among policy makers. There are different laws and acts that the governments have put in place in order to combat human trafficking for example the Organ Transplant Act. Even though there has been action taken to fight human trafficking, there is a potential for significant improvement in policy making. The disparity between the amount of research that has been conducted in order to study sex trafficking and the lack of advancement in studies regarding labour or organ trafficking impedes our ability to make policies on human trafficking while taking into consideration all three aspects. The lack of studies conducted for labour or organ trafficking therefore extends on to our lack of in-depth knowledge about the issues, which is ultimately evident in the minimal success that we have had in our efforts to combat these issues.

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The Three Aspects Of Human Trafficking. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
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