Human trafficking can be defined as the practice of enlisting, transporting, or sheltering individuals forcefully through coercive and deceptive methods. It is important to note that a majority of people mainly focus on sexual trafficking while the vice should include activities ranging from ownership of slaves to the importation of cheap labor. In fact, in his study, Weitzer acknowledges that, “What gets sidelined in the focus on sex trafficking is labor trafficking-in agriculture, manufacturing, fishing, mining, and domestic service” (8). The practice can be said to be one of the oldest social vices since it existed even before the rise of civilized societies. Notably, its persistence into the era of globalization has raised concerns amongst human rights organizations such as the United Nations. The international bodies have joined forts in a bid to curb the menace. However, fighting the vice has been challenging since the organizations have faced considerable resistance from individuals who support the practice.
Human trafficking can exist in different forms and for various reasons. The most common example is the importation of women and girls as sexual objects. Trafficking in persons also includes the sale of children and adolescents to adoptive parents without the consent of their birth parents. Additionally, it comprises of the transfer of men, women, and children to work in hazardous areas with little or no wages (CdeBaca and Sigmon 262). Whereas the general focus is on the international human trafficking, it is important to acknowledge the existence of a domestic version of the same vice. The exploitation often occurs internally when wealthy corporations employ domestic staff and expose them to harsh working conditions comprising of long working hours, poor and delayed payments, as well as physical forms of punishment (Zimmerman and Ligia e1002437). Therefore, human trafficking could further be defined as the forceful or coercive movement of individuals from one region to another, domestically or internationally, with an intent of abuse or occupational exploitation.
International bodies such as the United Nations are against human trafficking given its numerous detrimental effects. To begin with, the practice violates the basic human rights of any individuals. Some of the victims are often confined, thus affecting their freedom of movement and association. Moreover, others may be subjected to physical assault and in severe cases, the risk of death arising from the bodily harm caused by their masters (Zimmerman and Ligia e1002437). Aside from that, human traffickers, especially those in the sex trafficking, target young girls and boys where most of them are not of legal age. As such, the children are deprived of their right to education and a normal childhood. The exposure also results in the development of psychological problems amongst the young ones, thus increasing the number of suicides and depression cases.
Statistics on this practice reveal its severity. In their work, CdeBaca and Sigmon state that, “An estimated 21 million to 30 million people worldwide are living in servitude” (265). Currently, several actions have been taken to fight against human trafficking. To begin with, nations have come up with policies aimed at reducing the number of such incidences. The United States championed the fight in 2000 when passed legislation aimed at combating the crime and established the office to monitor and combat trafficking in persons. Other nations have since joined in the struggle. For example, England has also set up an anti-slavery law and it is working on sensitizing its citizens on the importance of the same. Law enforcement has also helped reduce cases of open trafficking. The capture and imprisonment of some of the renowned human traffickers have discouraged and made it impossible for some of the stakeholders to conduct their business (Weitzer 12). However, it is worth noting that the efforts made so far have not been fully effective as the majority of operators are still able to conduct the trade in secret.
As much as human trafficking has been vilified, it has also had several positive effects. To begin with, some of the governments in the world have made money by taxing the merchants who engage in this trade. In her book, Kara states that, “The total revenue generated by all forms of contemporary slavery in 2007 was a staggering $152.3 billion, with profits of $ 91.2 billion” (19). The lucrative nature of the business makes it a good source of public finance through taxation. As such, some republics have considered legalizing some forms of the practice. For instance, Italy was debating on whether or not to legalize brothels (Kendrot). Aside from that, the vice helps rescue some of its victims from poverty and poor life conditions. For example, some of the rescue victims in the US from Mexico and Russia were grateful that they were trafficked and had a chance to live in a developed nation. In fact, a majority of them prefer the abuse and low wages to the conditions in their hometowns. Notably, the positive light in which these individuals view the trade makes it challenging to curb it.
Evidently, the evils of human trafficking outweigh its advantages. The practice has a detrimental effect on the health and financial freedom of those involved. Additionally, it affects their dignity and infringes on their basic human rights. Therefore, it is necessary for both governments and citizens to set up and implement tactics aimed at curbing the practice. It is a well-known fact that free men work better than slaves. Therefore, should the practice be replaced by a more humane approach of employment, there is a likelihood that the current positive effects would be multiplied.
- CdeBaca, L., and J. N. Sigmon. “Combating Trafficking in Persons: A Call to Action for Global Health Professionals.” Global Health: Science and Practice, vol. 2, no. 3, 2014, pp. 261-267.
- Kara, Siddharth. Sex Trafficking. 1st ed., Columbia University Press, 2010, pp. 1-20.
- Kendrot, Nicole. “Trafficking for Prostitution in Italy: Possible Effects of Government Proposals for Legalization of Brothels. Aghatise, Esohe. | Human Trafficking | North Carolina”. Humantrafficking.Unc.Edu, 2018, http://humantrafficking.unc.edu/2011/05/03/trafficking-for-prostitution-in-italy-possible-effects-of-government-proposals-for-legalization-of-brothels-aghatise-esohe/.
- Weitzer, Ronald. “New Directions in Research on Human Trafficking”. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 653, no. 1, 2014, pp. 6-24.
- Zimmerman, Cathy, and Ligia Kiss. “Human Trafficking and Exploitation: A Global Health Concern”. PLOS Medicine, vol. 14, no. 11, 2017, pp. e1002437.