Human trafficking is a crime that results in the violation of basic human rights. Human trafficking is considred as the traded of individuals with the aim of indulging them in commercial sex or forced labor (Schonhofer, 2017). The elements of human trafficking include; forced labor and forced commercial sex. Sex trafficking is the habroing and transportation of indivduals with an aim of using them for commercial sex. Trafficking involves exploitation of people unwillingly through coercion and deception. Human trafficking is always associated with forced labor and is considered as a form of slavery.
On a worldwide scale, an estimated 4 million people were victims of human trafficking in 2016. Of the victims, 2 million were in forced labor and were corerced to work under coercion and 15. 4 million people were in forced marriages without consent. More precisely, women and children were in forced labor in the commercial sex industry or victims in forced marriages though men and intersex individuals can be subjected to human trafficking. The International Labor Organization (2017) reports that more than half of recorded number of victims are located in Asia.
Reasons for Human Trafficking
There are multiple reasons that drive human trafficking. Aspects such as poverty, vulnerability, lack of awareness, and decline in education make people victims of human trafficking. For instance, children from foster care systems have intensified. These children that grow in instability of the child welfare system can be easily manipulated with a promise of love and care. Traffickers often look for individuals susceptible to coercion. Other groups include migrants fleeing from their homes due to wars, natural disasters, or political instability. As people become displaced, there is an increase in emotional vulnerability and the need for financial stability. As a result, most individuals become subjects of abuse.
In some communities, women and children and especially girls, are devalued, making them more vulnerable. Traditional practices, such as early marriages, increase the susceptibility of women and girls. Women are also targets due to the high demand for sex trafficking, forced labor, and servitude bondage. Women and children make up the most significant percentage of victims.
The demand for cheap labor, especially in the service industry, such as restaurants, are common platforms for human trafficking. Additionally, there is a high demand for cheap domestic work especially in Asian countries, making women more vulnerable. Initially, women are often promised steady salaries and safe workspaces but end up being paid less than minimum wage. Companies tend to indulge in illegal trafficking because they need cheap labor and know that the victims lack options.
It is a challenge to identify the number of human trafficking cases because victims are mostly well-hidden or traumatized. Victims traumatized are less likely to convey information because they are afraid of engaging with law enforcement. Given the illegal nature of human trafficking, traffickers do their best to cover up their illicit activities.
Role of the Government and Organizations as Sources of Change
Human trafficking happens worldwide. In most cases, victims are transported from the country of origin and recruited in foreign lands for purposes of forced labor and involuntary sexual services.Although there is still a percentage of cases where trafficking occurs within the same country. Presently, the most significant global platform for combating human trafficking is the UN Protocol, which works to combat and punish human trafficking, particularly women and children. The organization aims to prevent further trafficking, punish traffickers, and protect victims. Although the UN anti-trafficking protocol is recognized in several countries, it lacks formal enforcement, sanctions mechanisms, and the compliance level varies from one country to another (Schonhofer, 2017).
Governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and citizens can help each other fight against human trafficking. The government can focus on implementing fair trade groups with a focus of greater transparency in the supply chains; this enables companies to disclose their sourcing practices and create strict labor provisions as well as punish companies that a negligent with their labor practices (Clark, 2019).
Women and children are often lured into the business of sex trafficking by a promise that they will be able to secure jobs with promising incomes. In most cases, their identification cards and passports are often confiscated, making it difficult for them to escape from their conditions. Even when such individuals attempt to escape, they face severe punishment and, in some instances, death (Hepburn & Simon, 2013). Most of these victims experience psychological disorders as they are unable to escape from their state easily. Commercial sex is driven through coercion and force. Sex traffickers use bait, persuade, or use fear to get individuals to participate.
There must be methods to recognize any cases of sex trafficking. The department of health can work to identify the physical and psychological signs of the victims. Some of the symptoms include starvation, rape, menstrual pain, forced abortions, injuries, burns, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal ideas, substance abuse, panic disorder, and anxiety (Territo & Kirkham, 2010). Healthcare practitioners and social workers must recognize these symptoms to help the victims.
Minor sex trafficking is also rampant today. Sex trafficking includes practices such as child pornography and prostitution. Health professionals and social workers must understand the prevalence of commercial sex trafficking among children and youths. Social workers should collaborate with policymakers, law enforcement, and health professionals at local, state, federal levels to maintain policies that reduce human trafficking among children (Kotrla, 2010). Safe harbor laws and child protection laws should be implemented to cover children of all ages and adults across the state level; this way, it would be difficult for children to be transported from state to state.
Poverty and harsh economic conditions are often poised as motivating factors for human trafficking. Mainly, poverty drives sex trafficking. Individuals who live below poverty levels feel the need to engage in sexual acts as their survival tactics. Moreover, labor migration is growing at an alarming rate in the wake of globalization. As a result, some participants readily give sexual favors in exchange for income. When most immigrant women enter the U.S., they are motivated with the need to earn income, which drives them into the commercial sex sector; this is as a result of hard economic state. The government can look into creating employment opportunities.
Further, most victims lack knowledge of their rights within the criminal justice system. It is the role of law enforcement, social workers, and health professionals to educate people of their rights; this way, they can quickly identify with the conditions they are in and seek help (Richards, 2014).
There is a lack of awareness, coupled with a lack of resources to fight human trafficking. There should be collaboration among social workers, law enforcement, health professionals, and communities. Traaining and education will help increase awareness and response to cases of trafficking. Training will help identify human trafficking victims and how agencies can handle human trafficking cases.
Presently, there exist laws against human trafficking, and efforts have been made; however, governments have found it difficult to prevent human trafficking. On the other hand, health practitioners and non-governmental agencies have promoted continual education to create awareness of trafficking. Global agenices like the UN are actively working to prevent, suppress, and punish this global crime. However, governments need to realize that what is most important now is that international and domestic relationships will go a long way to control human trafficking.
Most human trafficking cases go unnoticed and unpunished. Despite the laws and devotion of resources to anti-trafficking, few cases are solved. There is a failure of local law enforcement and agencies to prioritize the issue of human trafficking and difficulties in identifying such cases. Victims are often afraid that officers will be reluctant to participate in investigations due to the poor relationships between victims and police officers (Winterdyk, Perrin, & Reichel, 2012). It is, therefore, essential to know how law enforcement and criminal justice systems respond to such cases and make them prioritize such instances.
In conclusion, human trafficking is a complex issue that requires international and national collaboration. It is proven that further training of law enforcement, health practitioners, and education on victims and communities should be undertaken to allow for quick response to the cases. On the other hand, the government should continually monitor human trafficking cases and improve the economy to reduce poverty levels.
Clark, A. (2019). Framing the fight against Human Trafficking Movement Coalitions and Tactical Diffusion. Lexington Books.
Hepburn, S. & Simon, R. (2013). Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight. Columbia University Press.
International Labor Organization. (2017). Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labor and Forced Marriage. International Labor Organization and Walk Free Foundation.
Kotrla, K. (2010). Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in the United States. Social Work, 55(2), 181-187.
Richards, A. (2014). Health Implications of Human Trafficking. Nursing for Women’s Health, 18(2), 155-162.
Schonhofer, J. (2017). Political Determinants of Efforts to Protect Victims of Human Trafficking. Crime, Law, and Social Change, 67, 153-185.
Terriro, L. & Kirkham, G. (2010). International Sex Trafficking of Women: Understanding the Global Epidemic: An Anthology. Looseleaf Law Publications.
Winterdyk, J., Perrin, B., & Reichel, P. (2012). Human Trafficking: Exploring the International Nature, Concerns, and Complexities. CRC Press.