Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) has provided a comprehensive definition of human trafficking in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children”(also known as ‘Palermo Protocol’) of 2000:

  1. “trafficking in persons’ shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of 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 labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
  2. The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in paragraph a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set for in subparagraph a) have been used;
  3. The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered ‘Trafficking in persons’ even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph a) of this article;
  4. ‘Child’ shall mean any person under 18 years of age.”

Whilst many people associate human trafficking with migration, the definition in the Palermo Protocol covers anyone who has been obtained through force, coercion or fraud and has been subjected to forced labour, forced commercial sex or involuntary servitude qualifies as a trafficking victim, whether they have been transported or moved anywhere or not.

Men women and children are trafficking into three main areas of slavery:

How do people become victims of human trafficking?

Poverty is a major driver of the human trafficking industry. Those trapped in poverty are keen to obtain a better life for themselves and their families, and these vulnerable people are preyed on by unscrupulous people offering jobs, training, opportunities, remuneration and better life prospects.

There are a number of main ways that people initially become trafficked:

  1. Many women and children are kidnapped into slavery
  2. some children are sold to traders by their parents,
  3. some children are willingly sent with a trader by their parents, who have been promised that their children will receive a good education, an apprenticeship or a good job and good prospects or even just adequate food. Traders can often be well known locals or relatives, so the parents trust them.
  4. some women are married, only to find that their marriage is a sham, and that their new husband has sold them into the sex industry,
  5. some respond to job advertisements offering good pay for manual labour, only to find that they are imprisoned on arrival, subjected to vastly different employment contracts to what they had been led to believe, with no escape, and may be made to work for many years labouring for no pay at all;
  6. Many women apply to sham foreign job agencies or to study overseas, and go abroad willingly thinking they will receive education or have employment as a waitress or a nanny etc, only to find when they reach their destination that the reality is very different, and that they are imprisoned, raped and forced into the prostitution industry.

Human Trafficking affects Every country in the World

Every country in the world is either an origin country (ie source), a transit country or a destination country for human trafficking. UNODC data shows trafficking of human beings from 127 countries, to be exploited in 137 countries.

Regions that are main ‘origin’ areas are Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern European countries, former Eastern bloc and Soviet Union countries, Latin America and the Caribbean. The Highest origin countries are Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Lithuania, Nigeria, Republic of Moldovia, Romania, Russian Federation, Thailand and Ukraine
Main Destination areas are Western Europe, Western Africa, Asia, Arab Nations and North America. The highest destination countries are Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey, USA.

Escape is almost impossible

It is very hard, if not impossible, for a trafficked person to escape unless they are rescued. They are held as prisoners, often in isolated places, and are beaten or tortured for any disobedience or escape attempt. Trafficked persons are often trapped in a foreign country with no language skills, money or identification documents, and know no one who can help them if they do escape. Due to corruption, there is suspicion of police, and Traffickers often hold identification documents, so know their former home address, and threaten violence against a trafficked persons family for any escape attempt. Often those who escape cannot return home because of the risk of being trafficked again or because they can identify traffickers, and because their communities may reject them for cultural reasons if they have been involved used in the sex industry, even though it was not their choice. Many trafficked persons have a very short life span. Those working in forced labour may die from malnutrition, disease, accident and/or injury, or other causes, whilst most of those forced into the sex industry quickly contract sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS and may also suffer from malnutrition, or from injuries from sexual violence or punishment. Some commit suicide because of the atrocities they are forced to endure.