What is Human Trafficking and why should you be concerned?
We’ve all heard the term “Human Trafficking”, whether in the news or elsewhere. But what does it even mean? Who’s affected? And why should you care?
United Nations defines Human Trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit. Men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, which occurs in every region of the world. The traffickers often use violence or fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims.” (Source: UNODC)
The US Department of Justice is very clear: “Human Trafficking is a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex.”
It abuses people’s fundamental rights and dignity, and involves the criminal exploitation of vulnerable people for the sole purpose of economic gain. Remember this: Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. But it is not people smuggling.
The word “trafficking” may suggest that people have to be transported across borders, but that isn’t true. The Anti-Slavery corrects: “In fact, transporting or moving the victim doesn’t define trafficking – it can take place within a single country, or even within a single community.”
But why do people even get trapped by traffickers?
They are mostly trying to escape poverty or discrimination, improve their lives and support their families. They are helpless and see no other alternative to escape their way of living.
Vulnerable people are often forced to take unimaginable risks to try and escape poverty or persecution, accepting precarious job offers and making hazardous migration decisions, often borrowing money from their traffickers in advance. But when they arrive, the work often does not exist or conditions are completely different. They become trapped, extremely vulnerable, lose their documents, are forced to work and rely on traffickers.
People can be trafficked and exploited in many forms, including being forced into sexual exploitation, labour, begging, crime (such as growing cannabis or dealing drugs), domestic servitude, marriage or organ removal.
Why should you be concerned?
Human trafficking is a massive violation of human rights, its a crime against humanity. We should all do what we can to eradicate this issue from modern society. Many of us may not think much about this issue, as we often see it as irrelevant to our everyday life. But it is the reality of many people around the world. What if somebody you knew was kidnapped and forced to work? This shouldn’t happen to anyone.
In many cases, human traffickers primarily target minors and young women, as they usually don’t have the means or power to protect themselves and can be taken quite easily. They need our support to escape human trafficking and to prevent future events.
You may be much closer to it than you think! Do you drink coffee, wear jewellery, eat chocolate? In these industries slavery and child labor run rampant. Many US prostitutes are taken from their homes, less fortunate regions in the world. You may not see it every day, but too often we are often unknowingly a part of it.
The effort to change the world has to start with us taking notice of these issues and coming together to solve them.