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Factors That Promote Human Trafficking

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 3463 words Published: 28th Apr 2017

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The trafficking of human is a growing epidemic. It is linked to money laundering, document forgery, drug trafficking and international terrorism. This is not an issue that is discussed at the dinner table, on television and in magazines. It is a direct threat to the national security of the United States because money made from human trafficking is directly linked to the funding of terrorist activities. Because freedom of choice and economic gain are at the heart of productivity, human trafficking impedes national and international economic growth. Within the next 10 years, crime experts expect human trafficking to surpass drug and arms trafficking in its incidence, cost to human well-being, and profitability to criminals (Schauer and Wheaton, 2006:164-165).

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The emergence of world single market has provided many people around the world with increased prospects of improving their economic plight. Because of this organized crime groups have used this opportunity for personal gain by trafficking other humans. Although the crime of human trafficking is not a new phenomenon, a global single market has increased competition and has intensified the demand for cheaper goods and services worldwide. As a result the impact of globalization and with the possibility for increased profits, it is likely that human trafficking will continue to be a part of human existence. Therefore the United States must recognize any connections between human trafficking and terrorist groups, which are treat to the security of the nation.

The issue of the “trade” or “trafficking” human beings is still not mainstream as one may think. Most of the publications on this subject have been found to be limited, and analysis of it has largely been based on research reports articles and some coverage by the media. Despite the scarcity and lack of substance of the scientific production in this area, I will try to identify the main parameters of this issue and suggest some areas in which future research is needed. To accomplish this, I am relying primarily on academic works (articles, peer-reviewed periodicals) and research reports and publications.

Definition of Human Trafficking

The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subject to trafficking in persons. Human trafficking happens in the United States to both U.S. citizens (USCs) and noncitizens, and occurs in every state (Trends in Organized Crime 14, no. 2/3: 267-271). Human trafficking is one of the most pressing issues facing the United States Department of Justice today. It is “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion, and resulting in involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery; or commercial sex act, through the use of force, fraud or coercion; or if the person is under 18 years of age, any commercial sex act, whether or not force, fraud or coercion is involved” (Wheaton et al).

Literature Review

In order to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature associated with human trafficking I performed multiple searches of the literature using Google and EBSCOhost search engines. Most of which was done using the EBSCOhost search engine. My initial searches featured a wide array of directly related terms, including: human trafficking, international trafficking, domestic trafficking, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, child prostitution, commercial sexual exploitation of children, forced labor, labor trafficking, labor exploitation, minor and modern day slavery. Most of the research, particularly research published in peer-reviewed journals, was limited to qualitative and quantitative studies. Information on the needs of trafficking victims and the services provided to this population was limited to information contained in Federal reports, non-peer reviewed journals, manuals and fact sheets.

Firstly, I will begin by focusing on the role that organized crime seems to be playing in the development of this phenomenon and the extent of its involvement. After which I will provide a brief overview of the legislation that exists to combat the trade in human beings and some other options to be explored. We will conclude by proposing some avenues for further research.

Trafficking is big business, but in many regions of the world, such as Southeast Asia, trafficking involves mostly “disorganized crime”: individuals or small groups linked on an hoc basis. There is no standard profile of traffickers (Feingold, David). This provided a starting point from which the author shows how traffickers come from different social and economic backgrounds. The author then transition into how trafficking “kingpins” are rare. However, the author fail to give any evidence to dispute whether or not human-trafficking is controlled by large criminal organizations. As the article progresses, the author transition from describing the groups of individuals that are most likely involved in human trafficking to describing how legalizing prostitution will increase trafficking and prosecution will not likely stop traffickers. Despite the political energies expended on human trafficking, there is little evidence that prosecutions have any significant impact on the aggregate levels of trafficking (Feingold, David).

In 2010 an article by Tony Illia, and Tom Ichniowski claimed that Arizona’s Immigration Law Troubles State Contractor’s. Arizona’s newly enacted immigration law, which was meant to stem human trafficking and drug-related border violence, could have long-term consequences for the state’s flagging construction industry, in which employment is down 20% from a year ago (Illia, Tony, and Tom Ichniowski). The author went on to discuss the impact border violence as on innocent lives and how the new immigration law could affect the availability of labor. Just a week after Brewer signed the bill into law, five AK-47-toting, undocumented drug runners shot 53-year-old Pinal County Deputy Sheriff Louie Puroll during his routine patrol south of Casa Grande (Illia, Tony, and Tom Ichniowski). In an attempt to clarify the issue of trafficking, Senate Bill 1070 and the impact it as on the flagging construction industry in Arizona, the authors state that contractors are concerned about the availability of future labor. The potential fallout includes legal trouble (Illia, Tony, and Tom Ichniowski).

Individuals who are targeted by traffickers are victims of a hideous crime. The supply in the market for human trafficking refers to labor provided by individuals trafficked for both labor and commercial exploitation (Wheaton et al). With this in mind, it seems entirely appropriate to consider the issue of human trafficking to be associated with worker migration. In order to put this into perspective, one should examine both the pressures exerted by social and economic policies in third world countries and the factors associated with the lure of wealthy countries and their demand for low skilled workers. Human traffickers participate in a monopolistically competitive market supplying a product in many forms. The price the trafficker will receive is based on availability of the desired product, characteristics of the product, the number of similar products available, and the negotiating acumen of the human trafficker (Wheaton et al).

For many illegal immigrants the road to “The American Dream” usually leads form their home countries through Mexico and United States border. However, not all illegal immigrants are seeking a better life for themselves and their families. The act human trafficking also provides the opportunity for those wishing harm to the United States. Despite numerous international efforts to break up or stem the avenues used to traffic human, there are still a number of avenues available that potential terrorist can enter the United States undetected. Everyone’s talking about immigration and it’s not just Arizona. Although Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 drew attention this year for covering ground in how states tackle immigration, other states will take up the issue next year (Chavers, Mikel). Also of note, the author states that other states may seek to integrate measures that will help immigrants assimilate. Therefore, promote equal wages for all and prevent human trafficking. Although (Chavers, Mikel) address Arizona’s new immigration bill, he failed to address what states like Missouri and Tennessee were going to with regards to immigration.

Other scholarly articles reviewed concerning human-trafficking and the implications it as on national security focused relaxed laws but did not explain by these laws are not properly enforced. According to (Hepburn, Stephanie, and Rita Simon) the United States is one of the top ten destinations for trafficked people annually but gave no explanation about what factors contributed to this fact.


Despite increased attention to the problem of human trafficking into, and most recently within, the United States, knowledge and understanding of the issue remains fairly limited. Very little is known about the prevalence of trafficking and the number of victims; characteristics of the victims and perpetrators; the long-term impacts of human trafficking on victims, their families, and communities; the effectiveness of anti-trafficking programs; and best practices in meeting the complex needs of victims. More specifically, there is little literature on effective programs and services designed specifically for victims of human trafficking. There is a vast amount of research to be done. However, I would like to suggest the following topics in order to gain a better understanding of the problem with respect to host countries.

Firstly, there should be more research on other types of human trafficking other than in the sex trade. In addition to data on the types of trafficking, the research should cover existing measures to combat those abuses and to offer support to trafficked persons.

Finally, there needs to be research on victims’ needs at the various stages of their experience, how does trafficking affect their moral judgment and behavior, as well as on the means for combating human trafficking.

Methodology and Research Strategy


Human is a growing epidemic. It has been linked to money laundering, document forgery, drug trafficking and international terrorism. The issue of human trafficking is not discussed at the dinner table, on television and in magazines. Human trafficking is used exploit victims for prostitution, sweatshop labor, domestic work, and agricultural work. It is a crime against men, women, and children, who are usually poor and uneducated. They are usually promised a better life and increased economic opportunities; traffickers normally lure their victims into exploitative agreements. Human trafficking is a direct threat to the national security of the United States because money made from human trafficking is directly linked to the funding of terrorist activities. There are several causes for human trafficking, but the fundamental causes are the social and economic forces that function within a society. This leads to the question. What social and economic factors promote human trafficking and the implications on human trafficking on national security?


There are numerous policies are in place that address human trafficking. But how is the public made aware of these policies, and how they are used remains questionable. Developed countries such as the United States have a much older population than that of the developing countries; this can lead to a shortage of younger workers who would tend to take up low skill jobs. The shortage of workers for low skill jobs suggests a potential demand for immigrant workers willing to take low skill jobs.

Data and descriptive statistics

The available data on trafficking is limited and unsatisfactory in many ways and I strongly encourage efforts to collect better data. To overcome some of the problems I used a mixed approach, combining both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The method used is content analysis. In order to answer the proposed question two articles were examined, they are “Hidden in Plain Sight: Human Trafficking in the United States, and Economics of Human Trafficking”.

Both articles were examined with the following independent and dependent variables in mind:

Dependent Variable: Opportunity. Opportunity is the fostering of social, economic and political stability, and the reduction both of migration caused by poverty. Also there should be policies that would promote both economic development and social inclusion.

Independent Variable 1: Poverty. By improving children’s’ access to educational and vocational opportunities and increasing the level of school attendance, enhancing job opportunities by facilitating business opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises would decrease poverty.

Independent Variable 2: Conflict & Social Unrest. By promoting good governance and transparency in economic transactions and adopting or strengthening legislative, educational, social, and penal legislation. These factors would discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons that leads to trafficking.

Findings and Analysis


A content analysis of these publications shows that the root causes of human trafficking are the greed of criminals, economic pressures, political instability and transition, and social and cultural

factors. Some traffickers are involved in other transnational crimes. Criminal groups choose human trafficking because it is high-profit and often low risk, and because human trafficking does not require large capital investment.

Trafficking victims fall prey to this practice because they seek a better life and or enhanced economic opportunities. They are vulnerable to false promises of good jobs and higher wages. There are other factors such as political instability, civil unrest, internal armed conflict, and natural disasters result in an increase in trafficking. The destabilization and displacement of populations increase their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse through trafficking and forced labor. War and civil strife may lead to massive displacements of populations, leaving orphans and street children extremely vulnerable to trafficking.

In some countries, social or cultural practices contribute to trafficking an example of this is the devaluation of women and girls. Some parents accept payment for their children, with the hope that the children will be escaping a situation of poverty and move to a place where there will be a better life and more opportunities.

Risk Factors

We know that poverty and vulnerability are powerful predictors of whether a person will be trafficked. We know that governmental corruption plays an important role as well. The lack of employment opportunity pushes the vulnerable across borders and into the chance being controlled by traffickers. Decreasing the incidence of human trafficking requires collaboration across professional fields to discover and handle limited agency (Schauer and Wheaton, 2006:164-165).

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In recognition of this problem the United Nations General Assembly has promulgated a Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (2000), which includes a specific protocol to “Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children”. One of the key aims of the Convention and the Protocol is to standardize terminology, laws, and practices (Schauer and Wheaton, 2006:164-165). Poverty, social unrest, government corruption, population pressure, and the perception of opportunity are determining factors of human trafficking. Many of these factors are related. If a country has a young population profile, there can be intense competition for employment and a concomitant lack of perceived opportunity. An individual or household can determine how much labor to provide based on compensation offered for the hours of labor (Schauer and Wheaton, 2006:164-165).

Figure1. Framework for human trafficking

Combating Human Trafficking

Human trafficking prevention initiatives often involve poverty alleviation programs and awareness. This often times accomplished by establishing what the key drivers of human trafficking are. They may include household income or lack of understanding about trafficking and migration. Research also links poverty, lack of education, and limited understanding about the risk associated with human trafficking .The impact of programs aiming at preventing and or reducing human trafficking has been low and challenging to measure. Despite the attempts to educate those at risk, still, thousands are trafficked every year. It is more complicated in many than simply poverty and lack of knowledge. There is a clear need for the effective of poverty alleviation, awareness, and alternative livelihoods. While it is critical for the US to increase anti-trafficking efforts in regards to trafficking for the purpose of forced labor, trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation still remains a concern (Hepburn, Stephanie, and Rita Simon).

Despite the political efforts on human trafficking, there is little that prosecutions have any significant impact on the levels of human trafficking in the United States. Even with a well-trained law enforcement and judicial system few individuals were given T visa (Hepburn, Stephanie, and Rita Simon). There needs to be policies in place that support limiting immigration without increasing trafficking by forcing many desperate people to smugglers. If people can cross borders to pursue

opportunity relatively freely, I would suggest that it is difficult for traffickers to trick or

coerce people into being trafficked.

It is important to remember that criminals are inventive and opportunistic. They operate in a context of extreme and violent competition. Their conditions of work are dynamic and liable to dramatic and abrupt change. For all these reasons criminals are good at adapting to new situations and new technologies. As new forms of communication, new methods of transportation and new ways of controlling and exploiting people emerge; traffickers will rapidly take them up and subvert them to criminal uses. The challenge to all who would address trafficking in persons is to be prepared for such adaptations, both through applicable law and creative enforcement, and through well-grounded, rigorous research. Many United States citizens are removed from the issue of human trafficking because they view it as an underground industry whose victims are primarily immigrants (Hepburn, Stephanie, and Rita Simon).


Human trafficking affects more the individual been trafficked. Resources such as jobs for legal migrant workers and public facilities may be used by the illegals, thus displacing resources for legal residents. Poverty is shown to be significant factor that contributes to human trafficking. Some of the most obvious strategies for slowing human trafficking are the following factors:

Reduce governmental corruption.

Population control measures, especially poverty reduction

Increasing educational opportunities

Tackling inequalities in wealth

Promote subsistence and social guarantees.


The challenges associated with combating human trafficking and protecting victims are overwhelming. It requires multidimensional approach to address the issue of human trafficking. It should include not only legislative initiatives and crime prevention, but also job training, rights protection, and development initiatives. Effective strategies should be comprehensive and provide for collaboration among governments, and affected communities. Services provided through partnerships, and ongoing outreach and education will produce an effective response to the needs of victims. Working with different groups of trafficking victims represent an untapped wealth of practical knowledge and expertise on how to develop appropriate assistance and treatment programs that victims of human trafficking need.


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