Painfully and slowly, there is a picture that is emerging of a universal crime that is embracing all nations. Billions of dollars are being minced at the expense of numerous human trafficking victims. Young girls and boys who at their tender ages are supposed to be in school are now being pressurized into becoming soldiers in armed conflicts, sold for sex or doing hard labor. Girls and women are being trafficked for abuse such as being forced into marriage, domestic labor, and prostitution. Men trapped in debt are slaved in sweatshops, mines, and plantations.
Reasons for its Occurrence
Many people are alarmed that this kind of crime is happening in the 21st century. However, because it is a high reward and low risk crime, it goes on undetected. In countries where it is prevalent, either no laws prevail to curb human trafficking or even if laws have been enacted, they are not being enforced. More often than not traffickers are released on bail and victims are jailed. Deceitful human traffickers capitalize on the innocence, poverty, and hope of the unsuspecting victims. Trapped victims are enslaved and dehumanized by being forced to offer continuous services or provide cheap labor. They live in fear because most of them are subjected to violence. Their tears, blood, and sweat are in the hands of their captors.
Nature and Severity of the Crime
In the recent past, there was a boom in information concerning trafficked people. However, there is a problem concerning the consistency of available data. Most figures availed concerning trafficking are based on the approximation of the trafficking level. Apart from that, there is usually no explanation concerning how these figures are calculated. In most cases, they are fundamentally used for fundraising and advocacy objectives. Human trafficking is opportunistic, dynamic, and adaptable. Like most forms of criminal activities, it capitalizes on the vulnerability of individuals in a crisis, and takes advantage of conflicts and humanitarian disasters. It entails a wide range of actors because it is multidisciplinary. To contain this crime, it is critical that the profiles of its victims and traffickers, its underlying conditions, and its nature are comprehended.
It is possible to identify and rescue victims in various phases of the human trafficking process. It is also possible to identify potential victims as they cross borders or at any other transportation stage. Victims are most commonly identified in their country of destination. In some instances, they are also identified as they return to their countries. The most frequently reported trafficking victims are women and children. Human trafficking is complex in nature and one cannot be easily suspected to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is more determined by poverty, age and gender. This vulnerability makes them be victimized even at the initial stages of the trafficking process.
Traffickers usually disguise themselves as recruiters or transporters. Consequently, they engage in human trafficking through criminal activities, forgery of documents, money laundering or corruption. A number of crimes are associated with human trafficking. They range from unlawful confinement to torture and in the worst-case scenario, murder. In most cases, offenders are citizens of the country in which investigations on the human trafficking case are commenced. Consequently, very few of them are successfully prosecuted which results in very few traffickers being convicted. Most human traffickers are also involved in money laundering, pimping, smuggling of immigrants, and forgery of documents.
The Way Forward
Efforts to contain human trafficking are being crippled by the lack of data. As much as human trafficking clandestine nature makes it difficult to collect data, it is not impossible to do so. States need to be knowledgeable about the various forms the crime takes, its extent, and its geographical spread. Stakeholders need to comprehend the functioning of criminal networks and what essentially makes people be vulnerable to trafficking. Without data on human trafficking, it is not easy to evaluate the crime’s impact, to appraise the effect of anti trafficking efforts and to generate effective solutions.
Capacity to Respond
As much as it appears that human trafficking highly features on the agenda of many nations, it is still a big problem. It is now emerging that most states do not have the national capacity, the necessary knowledge, or expertise to combat human trafficking. Only few states have enacted national action plans and formed inter-agency coordination processes or recognized the role of diverse concerned departments to combat trafficking in a multi disciplinary and coordinated manner. Apart from that, very few countries have the vital training, knowledge and expertise essential for the effective prosecution and conviction of human traffickers.
There is a need for a multi sectoral approach in the fight against human trafficking. NGOs, the civil society and other stakeholders can augment efforts required to collect data on human trafficking effectively through conducting private research. Lawmakers should merge their expertise with what they know about human trafficking in a bid to come up with an all-inclusive legislation. Public awareness, partnerships, and additional resources would also help governments to combat this international crime effectively.
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Belser, Patrick. Forced Labour and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits. Geneva, International Labour Office, (2005): 23-34
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Cwikel J, Belmaker R. Trafficked female sex workers awaiting deportation: comparison with brothel workers. Arch Womens Ment Health 7(4) (2004):243–249.
Gupta J, Silverman JG. HIV vulnerabilities of sex-trafficked Indian women and girls. Int J Gynecol Obstet 107(1) (2009):30–34.
McCauley HL, Silverman JG. Trafficking experiences and violence victimization of sex-trafficked young women in Cambodia. Int J Gynecol Obstet110(3) (2010):266–267.
Ostrovschi N, , Abas M. Women in post-trafficking services in moldova: diagnostic interviews over two time periods to assess returning women’s mental health. BMC Publ Health, 11(1) (2011):232.
Oram S, , Zimmerman C. Prevalence and risk of violence and the physical, mental, and sexual health problems associated with human trafficking: systematic review. PLoS Med 9(5): (2012) e1001224.
Sarkar K, Parsons S. Sex-trafficking, violence, negotiating skill, and HIV infection in brothel-based sex workers of eastern India, adjoining Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. J Health Popul Nutr 26(2) (2008):223–231.
Shelley, Louise I. “Trafficking in women: the business model approach”. Brown Journal of International Affairs. vol. X, No. I, (2008)
Silverman JG, Raj A. HIV prevalence and predictors among rescued sex-trafficked women and girls in Mumbai, India. JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 43(5) (2006):588.
Tsutsumi A, Marui E. Mental health of female survivors of human trafficking in Nepal. Soc Sci Med 66(8) (2010)
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Zimmermann, Cathy. Stolen Smiles: a Summary Report on the Physical and Psychological Health Consequences of Women and Adolescents Trafficked in Europe. London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, (2006)
 Cathy Zimmermann. Stolen Smiles: a Summary Report on the Physical and Psychological Health Consequences of Women and Adolescents Trafficked in Europe. London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, (2006):23
 Oram S Turner-Moss E. Labour exploitation and health: a case series of men and women seeking post-trafficking services. J Immigrant Minority Health (2013), 26
 Marui E Tsutsumi A. Mental health of female survivors of human trafficking in Nepal. Soc Sci Med 66(8) (2010), 45
 Raj A Silverman JG. HIV prevalence and predictors among rescued sex-trafficked women and girls in Mumbai, India. JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 43(5) (2006),588.
 Hauff E Ayazi T, What are the risk factors for the comorbidity of posttraumatic stress disorder and depression in a war-affected population? a cross-sectional community study in South Sudan. BMC Psychiatry 12(175) (2012),76
 Louise I Shelley. “Trafficking in women: the business model approach”. Brown Journal of International Affairs. vol. X, No. I, (2008),56
 Parsons S Sarkar K. Sex-trafficking, violence, negotiating skill, and HIV infection in brothel-based sex workers of eastern India, adjoining Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. J Health Popul Nutr 26(2) (2008), 224.
 Zimmerman C Oram S. Prevalence and risk of violence and the physical, mental, and sexual health problems associated with human trafficking: systematic review. PLoS Med 9(5): (2012) 45
 Valentine JD Brewin CR. Meta-analysis of risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder in trauma-exposed adults. J Consult Clin Psychol, 68(5) (2010),748.
 Abas M Ostrovschi N. Women in post-trafficking services in moldova: diagnostic interviews over two time periods to assess returning women’s mental health. BMC Publ Health, 11(1) (2011),232.
 Patrick Belser. Forced Labour and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits. Geneva, International Labour Office, (2005), 23
 Silverman JG McCauley HL. Trafficking experiences and violence victimization of sex-trafficked young women in Cambodia. Int J Gynecol Obstet110(3) (2010),266.
 Silverman JG Gupta J. HIV vulnerabilities of sex-trafficked Indian women and girls. Int J Gynecol Obstet 107(1) (2009),30
 Belmaker R Cwikel J. Trafficked female sex workers awaiting deportation: comparison with brothel workers. Arch Womens Ment Health 7(4) (2004), 243
 Michèle A Clark. “Vulnerability, prevention and human trafficking: the need for a new paradigm”. Background Paper for the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking. (2007), 40
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