Fifty years ago, the abomination of slavery seemed like a thing of the past. But history has a way of repeating itself. Today, we find that human slavery is once again a sickening reality. At this moment, men, women and children are being trafficked and exploited all over the world. The Thirteenth Amendment did not abolish slavery completely, in fact, human trafficking is now the modern day slavery and is a problem in countries all over the world. Sex trafficking, illegal child labor, and illegal immigrant trafficking are all examples of human trafficking. A global underground problem, it is not only happening in the third world countries but civilized countries as well. Very seldom do victims of trafficking ever escape the vicious crime and many end up in dead or with diseases.
Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery
What is Trafficking?
Every year, millions of people are trafficked into the modern-day equivalent of slavery. They are secretly transported across borders and sold like commodities, or trafficked within their countries for the sole purpose of exploitation. It is a crime that violates the basic human rights of victims. (What is Trafficking, 2010). “Trafficking in persons” means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring 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. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. (What is human trafficking?, 2010).
What does trafficking involve?
Trafficking involves forcible movement of a person from one place to another and forcible utilization of their services with the intention of inducting them into trade for commercial gains. The word ‘forcible’ means that the action is against the person’s will or that consensus has been obtained by making deceptive claims and false allurements. In some cases, consensus is obtained because of the victim’s social conditioning, where the victim is not even aware that s/he is being exploited. (What is human trafficking?, 2010). Trafficking in persons include but are not limited to sex trafficking, child labor, and immigrant labor.
Why People Fall Victim
International trafficking is not limited to poor and undeveloped areas of the world-it is a problem in virtually every region of the globe. Countries with large (often legal) sex industries create the demand for trafficked women, while Countries where traffickers can easily recruit provide the supply. Generally, economically depressed countries provide the easiest recruitment for traffickers. In such nations, women are often eager to leave the country in search of better employment opportunities. Traffickers exploit this fact and often trick victims into thinking they will be going abroad to work as nannies or models.
Sex trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery and its victims are majority women and girls, but can also be men or boys. Sex trafficking victims are induced to perform commercial sex by force, fraud, or coercions and they’re also lured into this situation because they’re promised a good job in another country, a false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation, being sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, boyfriends, or being kidnapped by traffickers. “Types of Sex Trafficking have different forms of commercial sexual operations such as prostitution, pornography, stripping, live-sex shows, mail-order brides, military prostitution and sex tourism. ” (Rescue and Restore ). Trafficking of women is a transnational industry that generates billions of dollars. Although men, women and children are all victims of trafficking, it is a crime that disproportionately affects women and girls who make up approximately 80% of those trafficked transnationally, the majority of whom are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation
There are millions of children whose labor can be considered forced, not only because they are too young to choose to work, but also because they are, in fact, actively coerced into working. These include child bonded laborers — children whose labor is pledged by parents as payment or collateral on a debt — as well as children who are kidnapped or otherwise lured away from their families and imprisoned in sweatshops or brothels. In addition, millions of children around the world work unseen in domestic service — given or sold at a very early age to another family. Forced child labor is found primarily in informal, unregulated or illegal sectors of the economy. “It is most common among the economically vulnerable and least educated members of society such as minority ethnic or religious groups or the lowest classes or castes. ” (Forced and Bonded Child Labor, 2010) Children are especially vulnerable to exploitation because their lack of maturity makes them easy to deceive and ensures that they have little, if any, knowledge of their rights.
Much like sex trafficking and child labor, the majority of people smuggled are immigrants and non-residents to the county they are being smuggled into. People are promised a good job with good pay with room and board provided. They fall for the trap and answer to the ad without knowing it is a trick. When they are brought to the place, traffickers already stole the immigrants’ passports and everything they own, making it impossible for the immigrants to go back home. Instead of the good job and pay they were promised, they end up working 12+ hour shifts, with basically no pay, and have bad living conditions. Men have been overlooked as potential victims of trafficking. Even when signs of exploitation that would sound alarms with women – such as confiscation of travel documents – are clear, immigration officers or assistance groups often classify men as “migrant workers” and send them on their way. In addition, men often don’t want to admit that they were trafficked because this signifies weakness or “failure.” (Cardais, 2009)
Traffickers used a variety of means to draw girls into the sex trade. The four key tactics of sex trafficking identified include: employment-induced migration via a broker; deception, through false marriage; visits offer; and force, through abduction. The majority of respondents (55%) were trafficked through false job promises. (Simkhada, 2008)
Trafficking In Nepal
Many girls involved in sex work do so because they are compelled by economic circumstances and social inequality. Some enter sex work voluntarily; others do so by force or deception, sometimes involving migration across international borders. Nepalese girls trafficked from Nepal to India are typically unmarried, illiterate and very young. Key routes to sex trafficking include employment-induced migration to urban areas, deception (through false marriage or visits) and abduction. Young girls who have been trafficked for sex work are a hidden population, largely due to its illegal nature. Employers of trafficked girls may keep them hidden from public view and limit contacts with outsiders. Trafficked girls may not identify themselves as such through fear of reprisals from their employers, fear of social stigma from involvement in sex work or their HIV-positive status or from their activities being revealed to family members. (Simkhada, 2008).
Enforcement in Nepal
In Nepal, high-level decision makers, lawmakers and politicians at the local level are often accused of being the protector of the traffickers. Many commentators blame the lack of legal enforcement arguing that policies are sound in Nepal but not their implementation and that political commitment is required to implement public policies. Political leaders and higher authorities in bureaucracy are accused of releasing the arrested traffickers from custody and taking political and monetary benefits from them or having associations with brothel-keepers. If a slave is trapped in a form of bondage other than commercial sexual exploitation, he or she is highly unlikely to be freed through police intervention.
Infections amongst Girls in Nepal
South Asia is currently home to 2.5 million HIV infected persons, 95% of whom are from India. However, HIV seroprevalence in a subset of neighboring South Asian countries has rapidly increased in recent years, due in part to migration and human trafficking from these countries into India. Female sex workers, especially those who are victims of sex trafficking to India, are increasingly recognized as a major factor in Nepal’s growing HIV epidemic. HIV seroprevalence among female sex workers in Nepal rose 24-fold (from <1% to 17%) from 1992 through 2002 (Silverman, 2008). Women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation from Nepal to India are considered particularly vulnerable to HIV infection because of their typically young age at trafficking, limited ability to negotiate condom-protected sex, and experiences of forced sex. Despite high rates of HIV infection among sex-trafficked victims and substantial prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among female sex workers in South Asia and elsewhere little is known about STI prevalence and co-infection with HIV among sex-trafficked women and girls. We therefore explored prevalence of syphilis and hepatitis B and co-infection with HIV among a sample of female sex-trafficking victims in Nepal. (Silverman, 2008)
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Trafficking in Russia
Russia from small towns and rural areas to metropolitan areas, and into Russia from the former Soviet space to work on urban and rural building sites, in shops, and in the sex industry. As a low risk, high reward business, trafficking in people now rivals drug trafficking in its profitability in a globalised world. The lifting of many former restrictions on foreign travel from the former post-Soviet space, more permeable borders and the desire to migrate for work abroad provided a fertile legal, economic, social and attitudinal context in which traffickers, whether part of organized crime and large mafia rings or not, could take advantage of potential migrants, including children. When analyzing different patterns of trafficking, social scientists in Russia began to use the term torgovlya lyud’mi (literally ‘trade in people’), which was also adopted by some journalists, and later treffiking, awkwardly imported from English. (Buckley, 2009)
Interpretation in Moscow
The group in Moscow thought that work in prostitution was one variant for women. Whereas some condemned it as negative, the male student lightheartedly commented ‘if the girl is attractive . . . for an attractive girl it is easier’. The electrician, however, warned that ‘if a person goes to a modeling agency, when they show the clothes, it turns out to be a massage parlor’. The barman added, ‘in large towns, I literally saw this notice yesterday ”Girls are needed in a sauna. No work experience necessary”-interesting, in principle’. The barman gave another example: ‘Let’s say the girl is looking for work. She came to Moscow to enter an institute. She meets a young man. The young man already has several girls in such a profession and off she goes’. When pressed by the moderator as to whether the girl received a wage, the student answered, ‘naturally. Perhaps it is his business. Such girls are needed. It exists. The girl gets a percentage. There is a mass of variants’. The older singer added ‘the girl needs money. If she needs money, it is very simple to become a drug dealer’. Another interjected, ‘that means finding such structures’. The elderly economist in Moscow contributed another version: ‘she could marry unhappily, whether formally or not, and could learn a lesson in life from that. He could get her to sign a work contract, as they usually do to enlist girls in such work’. Her point was that social life and a partner could also lead to disastrous and unexpected work in prostitution. (Buckley, 2009)
Trafficking in Asian Culture
Asian culture, similar to many other cultures, subsequently socializes children to respect and obey parents and to contribute to the family’s well-being. This can be seen with Asian children who were trafficked and repeatedly explained how they put themselves at risk for the sake of economic improvement for their families. Many of them felt it necessary to make sacrifices for the benefit of their families, therefore living up to the cultural value of filial piety. Some of the girls who were trafficked for commercial sex talked about their mixed reactions to their experiences. They didn’t like what they were doing, but also felt that to not engage in commercial sex work would disappoint their families in terms of making a financial contribution and providing support. Some girls did not want to leave prostitution and return home because they hadn’t saved enough money to return without shame or embarrassment about the lack of savings to contribute or send home. A Thai saying captures the concept of filial piety. That saying is: ”Repaying the breast milk”. (Chung, 2009)
Western takes on Asian Culture
Western Asian female stereotypes constitute another factor that contributes to the abuse of power, since these stereotypes create the demand for Asian girls to be trafficked into commercial sex work. The Western stereotypes of Asian girls and women being subservient, obedient, hard working, submissive, passive, docile, shy, demure, softly spoken, eager to please, and exotic, all lead to the China doll, Suzy Wong, and geisha syndrome. These stereotypes increase the demand for Asian girls and subsequently trafficking into the sex industry. (Chung, 2009).
Child Abductions in Haiti?
The recent earthquake in Haiti left thousands of children homeless and orphaned. A group of ten American missionaries collected thirty-three children (some of whom had living parents) after the January earthquake. They were stopped as they attempted to return to the Dominican Republic, where they planned to establish an orphanage. Because the missionaries had neglected to get official permission to transport the children out of the country, Haitian authorities charged them with child abduction and jailed them. The prisoners’ families released a statement asking for leniency: “We are pleading to the Haitian prime minister to focus his energies on the critical tasks ahead for the country and to forgive mistakes that were made by a group of Americans trying to assist Haiti’s children.”
The Americans’ intentions may have been pure. Human trafficking, however, is a grievous problem in Haiti, and protecting children from exploitation was a “critical task” for the government even before the earthquake plunged the country into chaos. There have been calls for Haiti to lift restrictions on international adoptions in light of the greater number of children now in need. On the New York Times
Web site, journalist E. J. Graff noted the risks involved. “If you were a child trafficker or adoption profiteer,” she asked, “wouldn’t you pretend to be a humanitarian worker trying to save orphans?” (Commonweal, 2010)
Activist – Somaly Mam
Somaly Mam knows the harsh truth of the commercial sexual exploitation of children. For years she lived it from the inside. When she was 12, her grandfather sold her into the sex trade in Cambodia. In the ensuing decade she was traded through brothels across Southeast Asia where she suffered unimaginable horrors. She counts herself fortunate to have escaped death at the hands of entrepreneurial pimps and brothel keepers. But, unable to forget the faces of the girls she left behind, Mam decided to rescue them. Today, she fights child sex trafficking, sexual slavery, illegal confinement and sexual violence at home and abroad. (Olivera, 2010). Mam has won international acclaim and numerous awards for her activism. She has infiltrated brothels to save enslaved girls, engineering their escape and providing them with a safe refuge. She has, without hesitation, pressured the police to raid brothels – in spite of the fact that the legal system in Southeast Asia often supports the criminals, not the victims. In 1997, Mam and her ex-husband founded AFESIP, an organization dedicated to rescuing, housing and rehabilitating women and children in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam who have been sexually exploited. (Olivera, 2010)
U.S Takes on Trafficking
The United States has taken steps to respond to this trafficking dilemma. Congress first voted on an antitrafficking act in 2000, then again in 2003 and 2005. The government has appropriated $528 million toward this effort. In December, the government’s tools for combating trafficking were strengthened by the passage of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008. On the international front, TVPRA establishes the Trafficking in Persons Report as a diplomatic tool to encourage foreign governments to increase efforts to refrain and fight against modern-day slavery. The annual publication will include reports on individual countries’ progress or lack thereof. The bill also contains provisions for penalizing countries that violate trafficking laws in an attempt to steer any traffickers. The passage of TVPRA was a big step forward for U.S. antitrafficking efforts overall. (Todd, 2009). Today virtually every credible antitrafficking organization-including UN agencies, NGOs and responsible governments- agrees that engagement with law enforcement is the best and only sustainable way to protect victims and apprehend perpetrators of sex trafficking. Corruption within police forces should not be a reason to deny trafficking victims the enforcement of laws designed to protect them.
Hollywood Movie – Taken
The recent release of the Hollywood film “Taken” opened up the eyes of all the viewers who watched it. It was about a man who loved his daughter very much and when she goes on a trip to Europe, she is abducted and enters the world of human and sex trafficking. The fathers stop at nothing to find his daughter. Movies like this give an overview of what the trafficking world really looks like .For a person that has never heard of the term, it really opens up one’s eyes and perspective.
Research has shown that investing in the education and financial power of girls and women generates multiple social benefits. Better educated women have higher incomes and raise healthier children. They are more likely to be able to plan the size of their families, and they choose to have fewer children. Women are more likely than men are to use their earnings to support the health and education of their children. One study showed that women invest 90 percent of their income in their families, whereas men invest only 30 to 40 percent. Investing in young women is the key not only to ending sex trafficking, it’s the key to changing the world.
Opening the World’s Eyes
Trafficking is a global problem and will probably always be a problem. It has been around for centuries and one can only tell when it will ever stop. Though there may never be an end to human trafficking, knowledge is the ultimate power and people working together to fight human trafficking, lives can be saved.
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