This essay will analyse the concept and practice of human trafficking, focusing particularly on the way in which the local issues have attributed to globalisation of human trafficking, and the influence of western societies on human trafficking. It will further analyse the harms and violence associated with the trafficking, as well as powers that state bodies have on control and prevention of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is not a new phenomenon, however it has in the recent 20 years attracted more media attention. Horrific tales of brutality, exploitation and abuse of young women trafficked into prostitution has led to many authors and academics writing vastly about the subject. These reports and articles have brought to light not only the extent of human trafficking, but have also identified reasons behind this crime and methods of possible prevention from such crime occurring.
Human trafficking needs to be differentiated from smuggling. The two notions are more than often linked and referred to as one and the same. The main difference between the two concepts lies in the fact that smuggling rarely includes the use of force or abuse and once the migrant has been smuggled into the destination country, they are free to continue with the settlement in the new country. Trafficked people, however, do not have that freedom. Human trafficking has often been referred to as a "modern day slavery" and in many aspects it retains many elements associated with slavery.
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Difficulty with distinguishing between human trafficking and smuggling highlights the additional harm that victims of trafficking may experience when attempting to get assistance from police authorities and governments of destination countries.
In 'Human Trafficking: Sketchy data and policy responses' (2008) Goodey argues that "smuggling becomes trafficking once a person who is being smuggled experiences exploitation at any point from recruitment through to arrival at their destination" (2008, p. 422). Goodey further argues that in reality it is difficult to distinguish between smuggling and trafficking mainly because smugglers could be seen as exploiting willing migrants by requiring them to pay extortionate fees in order to facilitate their migration. These fees often become extremely high interest loans, which need to be repaid by the migrant in a very short period. However, when such fees have been repaid, the migrant is free to continue with his life.
In a Home Office report 'Stopping Traffic: exploring the extent of, and response to, trafficking in women for sexual exploitation in the UK' (2000) Kelly and Regan further explain that an element of freedom exists as a distinguishing factor between trafficking and smuggling. Kelly and Regan continue to explain that trafficked women are under the control of their traffickers and are treated as part of transaction. Traffickers will unavoidably incur expenses for the travel, falsifying documents and bribery, among other expenses, in order to facilitate the process of trafficking, and will in turn impose that debt on to the victim, requiring her to pay it off through prostitution.
It has been suggested that globalisation has had a massive impact on the increase of human trafficking in the recent years. Lack of economic opportunities for women in post-communist countries has been suggested as one of the main factors in increase of human trafficking. Desperation and poverty faced by young women is seen as a mitigating reason behind the question of why so many women are willing to migrate. Methods of recruitment used by traffickers vary, but most commonly involve friends, family or partners of trafficked victims. Recruitment can also take place through an agency, advertising for jobs abroad, however, these are false job opportunities. Internet has also become a vital tool in recruitment of victims.
Berman, in her article '(Un)Popular strangers and crises (un)bounded: discourses of sex-trafficking, the European political community and the panicked state of the modern state' (2003), argues that the evolvement of the societies, both economical and social evolvement, have a direct impact on human trafficking and the globalisation of this crime. In this article, Berman sets out arguments to support her notion of human trafficking as globalised and gendered crime. However in her work the separate concepts of human trafficking and smuggling are often referred to as one concept, which in turn can create greater harm for trafficked victims, as they are considered no more than illegal immigrants. She analyses the reasons behind globalisation and an impact economic and social globalisation have had on human trafficking.
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It is evident that local issues become globalised where lack of available employment or opportunity for young women is available. These women will then be easily persuaded, with the false promise of a better life abroad, to agree to migration, not knowing the reality of what is ahead of them. Recruitment process is therefore cleverly designed to ensure that the recruiters are usually people they know, relatives or anyone they might trust, and because this is the case, the reality of their future is even more disturbing.
Shelley's work 'Human Trafficking as a Form of Transnational Crime' (2007) argues that the modern technology has facilitated for an easier and faster communication within the globalised world, and has therefore had a major impact on the organised crime. Shelley further argues that "in the countries of former USSR, hundreds of thousands of websites exist promoting brides and sexual services, and in Europe, websites promote sex tourism, particularly in Latin America and Asia" (Shelley, 2007, p. 119).
Goodey ('Human Trafficking: Sketchy data and policy responses', 2008) analyses the reasons why migration and trafficking in particular can carry on even where the prevention techniques, such as public awareness of such crime, have been implemented. She finds evidence in the fact that a prosperous sex industry exists and so does the demand for women and girls. Traffickers recognise the demand for such services and therefore ensure that there is a regular supply of women. Goody further argues that membership of new countries in the EU, in particular the eastern European and post-communist countries, which were in the past recognised as countries of origins for sex trafficking, has facilitated an easier method of trafficking.
Harm and violence of human trafficking is more than just physical abuse by traffickers and their "owners". Harm and violence often extend after the period of abuse had ended. It extends even at the police station where authorities seem to be more concerned with removal of illegal immigrants rather than assisting the victims of trafficking. Difficulty with recognising the victims of trafficking lies in the fact that even victims themselves do not necessarily know what has happened to them has in fact made them such victim. Fear of prosecution and deportation, i.e. being labelled as a criminal, makes it even harder for the victims to come forward and identify themselves as victims. Furthermore, fear over lack of prosecution of the traffickers themselves further paralyses the whole criminal justice system. Women are encouraged to assist with prosecution in order to be able to stay in the country, however such assistance does not necessarily extend after the prosecution period and it certainly does not extend to their families who are still in the origin country.
Shelley ('Human Trafficking as a Form of Transnational Crime', 2007) explores the methods used by traffickers in order to ascertain control over the victims once the "recruitment" and detention process has been achieved. She argues that the traffickers are rarely caught or successfully prosecuted mainly due to the lack of support for victims of trafficking.
Berman's work '(Un)Popular strangers and crises (un)bounded: discourses of sex-trafficking, the European political community and the panicked state of the modern state' (2003) further argues that protection of victims is limited and that the pressure put on victims to further jeopardise both their lives and the lives of their loved ones is immense. The lack of adequate protection means that many traffickers go unpunished, while the real victims are themselves treated as illegal criminals.
The greatest harm, however, is the violation of human rights of each trafficked woman. It has been shown that trafficked women who are sold off to different "owners" are subject to much greater abuse. The abuse suffered by trafficked women is coupled with the fear their traffickers impose on them. Threatening their lives and the lives of the loved ones are the methods used by traffickers to ensure that the victims of trafficking remain in their control and do as they are told.
Power is vested within the governments and governmental authorities, however it could be said that traffickers themselves have great power as well. In order to be able to traffic such large numbers of women, men and children, requires great organisation and even greater connections with border controls, as well as authorities that seem to be corruptible.
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In 'Stopping Traffic?' (2006), Munro analyses counter trafficking proposals set out in different countries and how each country, using different legislative approaches, attempts to prevent human trafficking. Her analysis highlights the problems faced by each country, as cooperation is not necessarily in place between the countries. Although, her research is based on the workings of the individual countries, her findings are supporting the issues arising out of globalisation of human trafficking, and more importantly, they look into the questions on how such crimes can still be carried out in the 21st Century.
Through analysis of the systems adopted by different countries, Munro attempts to establish whether such systems have contributed towards the reduction of human trafficking within those countries. She highlights the problems faced by each country and her findings are directly linked to the issues of globalisation. By looking at Australia, Italy, Sweden and Netherlands, Munro highlights the differences each country has made in combating the crime of human trafficking.
Australia toughened its laws on human trafficking by creating an offence whereby claiming ownership over another person is punishable by up to 25 years' imprisonment. It further created offences including "causing a person to enter or remain in sexual servitude, or inducing a person to provide sexual services through deception" (Munro, 2006, p. 319).
Italy seems to have been "influenced by a more humanitarian impulse" (Munro, 2006, p. 319). In Italy access to help is provided to all victims regardless of whether they want to take part in identifying and giving evidence against their traffickers.
Netherlands, on the other hand, requires victims to cooperate in judicial investigation. In return for such cooperation, victims are given a temporary residence. Once the temporary residence has come to an end, victims will be asked to leave the country, unless they can show that there are exceptional circumstances.
Sweden has created legislation that "criminalises the purchase (but not the sale) of sexual services" (Munro, 2006, p. 320), and therefore became the first country to outlaw sex purchasing, and not selling. The 'Swedish model', as it is also known as, has been subject to criticism. Among critics are also Swedish sex workers who claim that no consultation with them had taken place prior to the legislation being enacted. The lack of consultation has meant that they are now more reluctant to ask the police for any help or assistance. It has been reported that there are now more women being trafficked across the border to Norway, and it would seem that there are now more Swedish men frequenting Norway in order to purchase sex. This illustrates how curtailing supply and demand in one country creates a new market where supply and demand can continue to flourish.
Goodey, ('Human Trafficking: Sketchy data and policy responses', 2008) further analyses the prevention and reduction process of human trafficking by considering international policies and legal understandings of trafficking. She argues that such policies have been unsuccessful and as a result human trafficking is on the rise. In her article, Goodey analyses different approaches to the issues surrounding human trafficking with the aim of determining the victims' position within the state. She concludes that human trafficking, or rather, sex trafficking in particular, is nowadays considered to be a labour issue, therefore trafficked women may not necessarily be seen as victims.
Doezma in her work 'Now You See Her, Now You Don't: Sex Workers at the UN Trafficking Protocol Negotiation' (2005), argues that anti-trafficking measures are more often used against the victims, rather than against the traffickers. She further highlights the problems by listing different views of prostitution, which in turn digresses from the real issues relating to harm and violence associated with human trafficking.
She recognises that "historically, anti-trafficking measures have been used against sex workers themselves, rather than against 'traffickers'" (Doezma, 2005, p. 62). There seem to be two divided views of prostitution. Coalition Against Trafficking in Women argues that "prostitution is a form of sexual violence which can never be consented to or chosen as a profession." (Doezma, 2005, p. 67) On the other hand Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women considers prostitution as a chosen profession. They argue that prostitution as a chosen profession should be distinguished from trafficking, which is "characterised by the use of force during the migration process and/or the consequent labour or services" (Doezma, 2005, p. 68).
Kelly and Regan's report 'Stopping Traffic: exploring the extent of, and response to, trafficking in women for sexual exploitation in the UK' (2000), provide an in-depth research into the working of the policing services in their attempts to protect and better understand the victims of human trafficking, as well as to prevent the crime from being carried out. The authors' findings are based on the research carried out in the United Kingdom and therefore this report does not necessarily represent the global impact of human trafficking. However, the report does reflect many misconceptions relating to the victims of human trafficking, which are arguably also present across other states.
This report further recognises that women are trafficked into those countries where the demand for sex trade is greater due to existing sex industries. Trafficking is an ongoing process, whereby women are trafficked through one or more transit countries, where they are also made to work or sold to other traffickers. The final destination is unknown to the trafficked woman. Kelly and Regan argue that it is clear that traffickers understand and are aware of the local and international politics and are therefore focused on targeting specific groups of women who have been identified as those affected by economic and social situation of a particular country. It is therefore not surprising to find that most of trafficked women are from countries distraught by wars and conflicts.
The House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee (2009), The Trade in Human Beings: Human Trafficking in the UK, Sixth Report of Session 2008-09, Vol. 1, HC 23-I, www.parliament.uk/homeaffairscom (accessed 15 January 2010) report provides an in-depth research of both attempted quantification of human trafficking and proposed steps necessary to ensure protection of victims. It provides guidance on the issues relating to methods used by traffickers to "recruit" their victims, as well as guidance on prevention of human trafficking and increasing public awareness. It further considers the impact of supply and demand of sex workers, and whether legislating prostitution could in any form contribute to prevention of human trafficking by reducing the demand for sex trafficking. The report concludes by setting out the current position of the United Kingdom in the fight against human trafficking and by highlighting the important work carried out by both governmental and non-governmental bodies, both nationally and internationally.
The report establishes that police forces should be provided with a more specific training that could assist them in recognising that even domestic workers could be victims of trafficking. Specific training should highlight the importance of recognising trafficking traits, such as confiscation of documents. Increasing public awareness has been recognised as one of the ways of preventing trafficking. Increasing awareness should also include educating not only general public, but also public officials, of signs of trafficking as well as to provide information on appropriate channels the assistance should be available to the victims of trafficking.
Difficulty in globalising the prevention on trafficking, and finding a globalised method that is universally accepted and adhered to, lies in the fact that not all EU member states have taken adequate steps in combating trafficking. This report emphasises that mere enactment of legislation is not adequate prevention tool, if there is no strict enforcement of such laws.
In conclusion, it is clear that human trafficking is a growing global issue. The reasons for the increase in human trafficking over the last 20 years has been down to the structural changing or globalising of the international economy and the increasingly deepening gap between the richer western and poorer eastern European countries. Women from post-communist countries have in particular been targeted by the traffickers, as the lack of economic opportunities in these countries has encouraged women to look for employment elsewhere. The risks faced by the traffickers are outweighed by the financial rewards human trafficking provides. Women, seen as commodities, can be sold repeatedly, therefore accumulating more regular profit for a trafficker than a narcotics dealer, who can only sell narcotics once. The rarity of successful prosecution against traffickers could be seen as an encouragement for traffickers to continue with their business, and even in cases of successful prosecution, the penalties are not as harsh as for the narcotics dealer. Although the trafficking has become a global issue, the lack of unity on workable preventative methods means that legal controls are only applicable in a particular country and they do not extend universally over the other countries. Organised crime groups work on a transnational level and are aware of the limits each state has on the enforcement of their laws on combating human trafficking.
All of the articles and reports present a horrifying truth that goes beyond the statistics and explores the grim realities of human trafficking. Human trafficking is possibly the greatest violation of human rights and a great deal more needs to be done to combat this activity and to prevent and protect any future victims. Clear definition and separation of concepts of human trafficking from smuggling would need to be universally accepted as this would ensure that the true victims of human trafficking are identified. Furthermore, tougher punishments on traffickers coupled with proper and thorough enforcement of legislation preventing trafficking could ensure that trafficking is curtailed to a certain extent by increasing the risks for traffickers. Funding and adequate support for victims of trafficking might also provide a better system whereby trafficked victims are not labelled as illegal immigrants and deported back to their origin countries without any support. Such system might also encourage trafficked victims to proceed with the prosecution of traffickers, however not as a condition for their settlement in that country.
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