Human trafficking is illegally trading human beings for forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. This also considered by some as a form of slavery. In the year 2000, the United Nations, or UN, adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons. It is the first set of international diplomatic guidelines based on human trafficking. Another purpose of the Protocol is to assist and protect the victims with respect for their human rights. The Trafficking Protocol was started on December 25, 2003. Since it's inception, it has been signed by 117 countries.
Trafficking is a very lucrative industry. It has become the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Women and children are usually the victims of this crime. The UN suspects that over 2.5 million people, from roughly 127 different countries, are trafficked throughout the world.
People smuggling and human trafficking are two different things. With people smuggling, people voluntarily hire someone to transport them from one place to another. Usually it's from one country to another involving illegal entry. After arriving at their destination, the person is set free. Human trafficking does not require the physical movement of someone. However, it must involve the exploitation of a person for labor or sex. The victims are not permitted to leave upon arrival. They are held against their will by coercion and forced to provide services to others. This arrangement could be structured as a work contract with very low or no payment. Sometimes it is even set up to where the victim owes a debt to the trafficker that they are unable to pay due to low wages.
There are basically three forms of this type of illegal labor.
Bonded labor is most widely used to enslave people. The victims' labor is demanded to repay a loan or service and the terms of the contract is not clearly defined. The system is set so the victim will not be able to pay them back in a reasonable amount of time.
Forced labor is where the victim is forced to work against their will. Their freedom is restricted under the threat of violence or other forms of punishment. Men can be coerced into forms of forced labor such as agricultural, janitorial, factory, or food service jobs.
Sex trafficking victims are usually women in dire circumstances. They prey on homeless individuals, runaway teens, drug addicts, and refugees. Traffickers exploit their vulnerabilities by offering marriage, education, or just a better life. The victims are forced to work dancing in strip clubs, in pornography, or prostitution.
Many impoverished countries are involved in such acts; however, it happens within the U.S. as well. There is an estimated 10,000 forced laborers trafficked in the U.S. The U.S. is mainly used as a destination country for victims. States have laws against trafficking, though federal laws are much tougher. Slavery itself was outlawed in the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Atlanta, Georgia has been designated as the place with the highest rate of child sex trafficking. There are many organizations with free hot lines where people can call if they are caught in a trafficking situation. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, or TVPA, was established to combat all forms of human trafficking in the U.S. The TVPA has three ways to prevent human trafficking. They include public awareness, economic alternatives, and consultation. Basically, public awareness is raised through commercials and pamphlets that are distributed to inform the public of trafficking and how to identify it when they see it. The government hopes by creating a steady flow of jobs, it will deter the need for such a drastic choice. And finally, the government consults with higher authorities on new ways and ideas to combat this problem as well as educates the ones that are unaware.
Human trafficking is a serious problem and it does exist. Although, it is more prevalent in less fortunate countries, the U.S. is not immune. unfortunately, women and children are the main victims. Due to the lack of opportunities in their country, a lot of women seek work in different countries and there are people waiting to prey on them. Homeless women and children are also targeted as victims. How do you think we could do a better job of prevent human trafficking here in the states or in your country? Have you ever seen it happening firsthand?