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    An Unjustifiable Act: Human Trafficking

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    The degradation of the human body, the force used to control them through fear, and the false promises of a better future is the use of manipulation seen in the traffickers to recruit young women and men. Human trafficking is our form of modern slavery today and its origin can be traced back to the 1400s, the Atlantic slave trade and possibly even further back. Yet, unlike the African slave trade, human trafficking uses its covert nature to continue using their profits gained from the boys and girls they recruit. Human trafficking falls into various subcategories; such as, forced labor, domestic servitude, organ trade, child begging, and the sex trade. While some are more dominant in certain countries the Trafficking in Persons Report states that, “almost all countries are involved in human trafficking as source, transit, and destination countries.”

    Therefore it is safe to say that human trafficking is an ever growing global health concern that has diverse consequences. Human trafficking affects the world socially, demographically, politically, and in health. Therefore, that is why we must not continue to be turn a blind eye to this worldwide phenomenon or else it will continue to flourish for the rest of the 21st century. Before we get into how human trafficking shapes the world, we must be informed in how it has grown into a transnational organized crime. The U.S. Congress passed a federal statute entitled The Victim of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in 2000, its main goal was to strengthen programs that ensured that U.S. citizens do not purchase products of human trafficking. While the intent behind this law can be noted it cannot fully grasp this global issue. Human trafficking encompasses “smaller” issues which illustrates how one issue can lead to another and create an even bigger one.

    People migrating from one country to another are at risk for human trafficking. A consequence of their vulnerable status, the devastating losses they have experienced, and their precarious life situations until stable solutions become available. Along with migration flows, there is poverty that feeds into human trafficking, the populations that experience extreme poverty are especially vulnerable due to their circumstances and family desperation. The poor are subsequently preyed upon by manipulative traffickers offering false promises of employment and education opportunities, in addition to a better life condition.

    In reality, the traffickers do not follow through with their promises but by then, it is too late and the people find themselves entrapped. Lastly, we have globalization which is another facilitator of human trafficking. We must note that human trafficking is not an outcome of globalization; it’s just part of the process itself. For example, women recruited in Thailand, and then trafficked to other states as a sex-slave generate money that is in turn recycled back into the Thailand brothel economy. Human trafficking is a flourishing business and all the factors mentioned are just some to take into account, in order to tackle human trafficking we need to discover effective approaches to help those migrating, in poverty, and improve globalization for the better.

    The root causes for human trafficking mentioned earlier have been profound and have allowed advocates of human trafficking to grasp this worldwide issue. Yet, most of these conditions have existed for a very long time. They alone do not explain the phenomenal growth of human trafficking since the mid 1980s. Counter trafficking programs and strategies have been insufficient to stem their growth, which allows both small scale and large crime groups to gravitate towards human trafficking. Human trafficking will continue to flourish because the forces of deep rooted poverty, low status of women, and long-term conflicts within small countries contribute to its rise with undiminished force. It is a defining problem of the twenty-first century and will reshape the world’s populations and quality of life and governance. Trying to define the scale of the problem takes a great amount of effort because of how hidden the nature of this problem is; yet, in 2016 the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) cited the International Labor Organization (ILO) that around 40.3 million are in the modern slavery.

    The supply and demand for human trafficking has increased over time, the reasons why traffickers choose to trade in humans is because it has a “low start up cost, minimal risk, high profits, and such a large demand” says Louise Shelley, the founder and director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center. The Global Financial Integrity puts human trafficking as the third most profitable crime after the drug trade and light weapons and small arms trafficking. It garners profits of roughly $150 billion each year according to the International Labor Organization. The president of the Global Financial Integrity, Raymond Baker notes that the fight against transnational crime “is not technically difficult. It is a matter of political will.” Now, examining the social consequences of human trafficking, it leaves not only a great impact upon the individual but on the community itself. The aftermath of human trafficking for the victim, families, and communities are severe and diverse. Once trafficked, they were exploited and harmed, and the individuals future opportunities in life are often very limited.

    Trafficked children are deprived of the opportunity of obtaining an education at a crucial age and they suffer psychological scars that may never heal which may prevent them from participating in society. Teenagers and women trafficked for both sexual and labor exploitation are sometimes deprived of the opportunity of marriage or having children if they have the desire to do. Men trafficked as laborers face years without family life and may suffer pain from work-related injuries. Families who have lost children and youths to traffickers may be permanently traumatized and experience a profound sense of loss. Trafficking done by friends and family members, an all too frequent occurrence, weakens or destroys family bonds.

    Overall, regardless of where the trafficker derives from what they all have in common are the damaged lives they leave in their wake. Human trafficking has devastating demographic consequences in many regions of the world as it deprives societies of women of childbearing age. “Moldova, Ukraine, and Russia have lost hundreds of thousands of women to sexual and labor trafficking” (Hughes 53).Yet, demographic loss from trafficking is not confined to women, as smuggling victims from Asia, Latin America, and Africa, which consist of both men and women may become victims of trafficking. Villages in Southern China are literally “drained of people, and parts of Mexico are without youthful males” (Keefe 249).

    Those left behind often have difficulty surviving. The political consequences of human trafficking are many and diverse. Trafficking undermines democracy and accountability of governments. The use of human trafficking undermines any traditional concepts of human rights. Trafficking destroys the central point of democracy. Democracies establish the right to protection under the law, guarantee human freedom, and establish rights of citizens. The individuals are subject to terrible abuse and often outside the reach of both criminal and civil justice system. But human trafficking victims, by their status, are often not citizens of their country or residence. This is where democracy falls short because then those trapped in “the life” feel like they have no way out. Therefore, it deters them from seeking help because of the fear they have in being deported. Although many democratic countries agree on the UN protocol on trafficking that defines trafficked people as “victims,” many have not changed their laws to protect the rights of trafficked people (UNODC).

    This reveals the inability of democratic states to protect the principles of society from the increasing violations of rights committed by human traffickers. Trafficking victims die, become seriously ill, or are injured as a result of the hazardous work condition in which they labor, the abuse of their traffickers and their clients, and their sheer physical exhaustion. The constant abuse, violence, and intimidation they have suffered make it nearly impossible for them to return to normal lives. As one official at the International Organization for Migration in Moldova explained, “they can repair the broken jaws and bones but they cannot mend the often irreparable psychological effects” (IOM). Every year young women who resist their traffickers die, such as the Afghan girls who jump into wells rather than be trafficked (Potterat 159).

    Other dies from HIV contracted through unprotected sex, because as victims they have no possibility to protect themselves in their sexual encounters. In the trafficking culture, their lives are cheaper than the cost of medication. An unknown number of sex trafficking victims are killed by their customers. Limited research has been done of the longevity of trafficking victims. But research conducted in the United States on mortality of prostitutes reveals a high likelihood of premature death. Human trafficking has other health cost for the victim that are enduring but not as permanent as death.

    Many victims of sex trafficking become pregnant. They are often forced by their traffickers to have abortions to continue serving clients without interruption and are frequently rendered sterile by unsanitary conditions while undergoing an abortion (Di Cortemiglia 74). In one epidemiological study in San Francisco in the early 2000s, “one quarter of men and women selling sexual services had a form of venereal disease” (A. Lutnick 82). Those who control the sex trafficking victims are disinterested in providing any medical assistance to these sex slaves. Therefore, one can presume that trafficked individuals have an even higher rate of sexual diseases. Therefore, as each trafficking victim has multiple customers daily, sexually transmitted disease and HIV spread into the community, infecting many individuals, compounding health costs, and increasing premature mortality.

    The consequences of the international drug trade are so evident and significant that many countries like the United States are ready to make strategies countering the drug trade a top policy priority. Their response towards countering the drug trade has been defined as a threat to national and global security. Yet human trafficking, also has far reaching consequences for labor, sexual, and other forms of exploitation which is now a universal phenomenon. The UNODC states that, “Countries in all regions are now part of a global market of trafficked individuals.” Trafficking undermines state security, as does the drug trade. Like the drug trade, it can perpetuate conflicts, and undermine order and the principles of democracies.

    Human trafficking, like the drug trade, contributes to the rise of organized crime. Unlike the drug trade, much of the violence associated with human trafficking is on a personal level, as individuals victims are frequently brutalized and murdered. Women are oppressed and vulnerable children are subject to exploitation, denying them a viable future. Families and communities suffer as member of their communities are trafficked, as the fate of the trafficking victims remains unknown. The broad consequences of human trafficking need further recognition. Whereas many understand that drug trafficking victimizes both the drug abuser and society, few realize that the victims of human trafficking are greater than those actually subject to exploitation. All aspects of human security suffer as a consequence of human trafficking. The global cost of human trafficking may equal or exceed those of the international drug trade. There are many ways to take action against human trafficking, and as a part of society we must do our part. Learning the indicators of human trafficking so you can potentially identify a victim can be of great help. There is awareness training programs for law enforcement, educators, employers, and first responders to take part in. Being aware of where your products come from, such as knowing where did your tomatoes come from, or who made your clothes.

    The Department of Labor contains a “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor” (DOL) to take steps and investigate into human trafficking supply chains and gain consumer awareness. Simply raising awareness within your community can go a long way, hosting an awareness raising event to watch and discuss films about human trafficking, a fundraiser, or donating to an anti-trafficking organization. These are some ways to help combat human trafficking, they may seem small and ineffective, but small actions can eventually lead to long term solutions. In the absence of fundamental change in the now globalized world, human trafficking will grow dramatically for the rest of the twenty first century. The consequences of this tragic trade in human beings will need long term changes in the social, political, and economic life of many countries. There will also be “grave threats to individual rights, civil liberties, and human dignity” (Massey 293). Therefore, human trafficking a global phenomenon that has been embedded into many countries will continue to shape our world and not for the better. Preventing this vicious and frightening cycle should be a main priority or we face an intimidating future.

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    An Unjustifiable Act: Human Trafficking. (2021, Jul 27). Retrieved from

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