Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage, or the extraction of organs or tissues, including for surrogacy and ova removal. Human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally. Human trafficking is a crime against the person because of the violation of the victim’s rights of movement through coercion and because of their commercial exploitation. Human trafficking is the trade in people, and does not necessarily involve the movement of the person from one place to another.
Human trafficking represented an estimated $31.6 billion of international trade per annum in 2010. Human trafficking is thought to be one of the fastest-growing activities of trans-national criminal organizations. Human trafficking is condemned as a violation of human rights by international conventions. In addition, human trafficking is subject to a directive in the European Union.
Key statistics
• The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, including 5.5 million children. 55% are women and girls.
• In 2013, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, operated by Polaris, received multiple reports of human trafficking cases in all 50 states and D.C. Find more hotline statistics here.
• The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.
• There is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S. With 100,000 children estimated to be in the sex trade in the United States each year, it is clear that the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.
• The number of human trafficking cases that Polaris learns about increases every year. Read our 2014 statistics report here.
Victims are frequently lured by false promises of a lucrative job, stability, education, or a loving relationship. In the U.S., victims can be men or women, adults or children, foreign nationals or U.S. citizens. While they share the trait of vulnerability, victims have diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, varied levels of education, and may be documented or undocumented.
As defined under U.S. law, victims of human trafficking can be divided into three populations:
1. Children under age 18 induced into commercial sex.
2. Adults aged 18 or over induced into commercial sex through force, fraud, or coercion.
3. Children and adults induced to perform labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion.
While human trafficking spans all demographics, there are some circumstances or vulnerabilities that lead to a higher susceptibility to victimization and human trafficking. Runaway and homeless youth, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war or conflict, or social discrimination are frequently targeted by traffickers. Foreign nationals who have paid large recruitment and travel fees to labor recruiters, often become highly indebted to the recruiters and traffickers. Traffickers control and manipulate these individuals by leveraging the non-portability of many work visas as well as the victims’ lack of familiarity with surroundings, laws and rights, language fluency, and cultural understanding.
Victims face many challenges in accessing help. Their traffickers may confiscate their identification and money. They may not speak English. They may not know where they are, because they have been moved frequently. They are often not allowed to communicate with family or friends. And they may have trouble trusting others, due to their traffickers’ manipulation and control tactics.
Traffickers lure and ensnare people into forced labor and sex trafficking by manipulating and exploiting their vulnerabilities. Human traffickers recruit, transport, harbor, obtain, and exploit victims – often using force, threats, lies, or other psychological coercion. Traffickers promise a high-paying job, a loving relationship, or new and exciting opportunities. In other cases, they may kidnap victims or use physical violence to control them.
Often the traffickers and their victims share the same national, ethnic, or cultural background, allowing the trafficker to better understand and exploit the vulnerabilities of their victims.
Traffickers can be lone individuals or extensive criminal networks. Pimps, gangs, family members, labor brokers, employers of domestic servants, small business owners, and large factory owners have all been found guilty of human trafficking. Their common thread is a willingness to exploit other human beings for profit.
Problems with the concept
According to some scholars, the very concept of human trafficking is murky and misleading. It has been argued that while human trafficking is commonly seen as a monolithic crime, in reality it is an act of illegal migration that involves various different actions: some of them may be criminal or abusive, but others often involve consent and are legal. Laura Agustin argues that not everything that might seem abusive or coercive is considered as such by the migrant. For instance, she states that: ‘would-be travellers commonly seek help from intermediaries who sell information, services and documents. When travellers cannot afford to buy these outright, they go into debt’. One scholar says that while these debts might indeed be on very harsh conditions, they are usually incurred on a voluntary basis.
The critics of the current approaches to trafficking say that a lot of the violence and exploitation faced by illegal migrants derives precisely from the fact that their migration and their work are illegal and not primarily because of some evil trafficking networks.[143] Tara McCormack believes that the whole trafficking discourse can actually be detrimental to the interests of migrants as it denies them agency and as it depoliticizes debates on migration.
The international Save the Children organization also stated: “… The issue, however, gets mired in controversy and confusion when prostitution too is considered as a violation of the basic human rights of both adult women and minors, and equal to sexual exploitation per se. trafficking and prostitution become conflated with each other. On account of the historical conflation of trafficking and prostitution both legally and in popular understanding, an overwhelming degree of effort and interventions of anti-trafficking groups are concentrated on trafficking into prostitution.”
Some critics claim that NGOs involved in anti-sex trafficking often employ the ‘politics of pity,’ which promotes that all trafficked victims are completely guiltless, fully coerced into sex work, and experience the same degrees of physical suffering. One critic identifies two strategies that gain pity: denunciation – attributing all violence and suffering to the perpetrator – and sentiment – exclusively depicting the suffering of the women. NGOs’ use of images of unidentifiable females suffering physically help display sex trafficking scenarios as all the same. However, critics point out that not all trafficking victims have been abducted, abused physically, and repeatedly raped, unlike popular portrayals. A study in the United States of the relationships between individuals who are defined as sex-trafficking victims by virtue of having a procurer (especially minors) has concluded that assumptions about victimization and human trafficking do not do justice to the complex and often mutual relationships that exist between sex workers and their third parties.
Problems with anti-trafficking measures
Groups like Amnesty International have been critical of insufficient or ineffective government measures to tackle human trafficking. Criticism includes a lack of understanding of human trafficking issues, poor identification of victims and a lack of resources for the key pillars of anti-trafficking – identification, protection, prosecution and prevention. For example, Amnesty International has called the UK government’s new anti-trafficking measures as ‘not fit for purpose’.
Local factor
Human trafficking can be explained into two major causes such as local causes and international causes. In the area of local factors, abject poverty especially among women, a lack of political, social and economical stability are the few factors in the area of local factors. Besides that, a lack of reasonable and realistic prospects, situations of armed conflict and oppression, domestic violence and disintegration of the family structure also the other factors in local factors. Moreover, gender discrimination, lack of access to education and information and the HIV-AIDS reality can be explained into local factors. Lack of access to education and information is when the individual not concerns about how important other human beings to another. Gender discrimination is also the causes that make another gender that is male or female to be stressed out with the situation that happens among them. Domestic violence and disintegration of the family structure can be explained when the problems occur in community give a problem to another human beings and family members have to show more love and alert about their children.

Universal Factors.
Universal factors such as even more limits and obstacles to legal migration channels to countries with stronger economies and regions with better prospects, a lack of public awareness of the dangers of trafficking, the high profit potential for those engaged in the criminal activity, the sophisticated organisation, resources and networking capacity of criminal networks, a lack of effective anti-trafficking legislation, and if such legislation exists, a lack of effective enforcement, global economic policies that foster exclusion of marginalised people, disintegration of social protection networks, widespread corruption in countries of origin, of transit and of destination among the persons capable or responsible to combat trafficking. A lack of effective anti-trafficking legislation is one of the important factors because a good system should be provided by government to overcome this human trafficking to be happened. Besides that, a lack of effective enforcement by the authority gives us a major problems and this will not give a full stop to this problems. Government and the society should be united to solve this sophistic issue.
Extreme poverty or oppression can also be considered one of the causes of human trafficking. Sometimes human trafficking victims are tricked by traffickers who promise them a better life. Parents will sometimes even sell their children for this reason, believing that their child will be better off in a better area with more opportunity. In reality, the child will usually be sold into slavery or prostitution.
Roughly half of all human trafficking victims are believed to be children, and the majority of the victims are female. For this reason, gender oppression can be considered one of the main causes of human trafficking. In some undeveloped countries, women are viewed as lesser human beings, or even thought of as objects that can easily be bought, sold, or traded.
Human trafficking of women often leads to a woman working in a brothel as a prostitute. In some countries, young girls have even been known to sell their virginity, usually for a very high price. In other instances, the women are even sold as wives. Sometimes they will willingly enter into the marriage, believing that they will live a better life than the one they left.
Penalties for human trafficking vary, depending on the country. In Israel, for example, human traffickers can face 20 years in prison. Many times, victims of human trafficking are also entitled to monetary compensation. This can provide money for any material losses that they have suffered.
How To Stop Human Trafficking
The question that keeps ringing in the minds of those who have ever heard of or fallen victim to human traffickers is how to deal with this growing problem. How to stop human trafficking is a matter that is being looked into by both local and global governments, as well as private and non-profit organizations, so as to assure people of safety in all aspects of their daily lives.
Human smuggling has become the modern way of slavery. What was thought to be gone so many decades ago, is forcefully taking a toll in the lives of vulnerable and unsuspecting individuals. It is slowly turning out to be a multi-billion dollar market place where people are being smuggled, bought and enslaved. The vice is not only bad for those who fall victim. It is bad for the community as a whole. Other than the psychological, economic and personal toll that it has on the individual, entire communities, and even countries, suffer as they fall victim to more and more corruption. It may look like cheap labor to those who take advantage of the helpless victims by forcibly employing them, but these are still people that deserve basic human rights and freedoms.
Victims get transported in varied ways. These may include the use of planes, buses, cars and trains among many other means of transport. It is a disturbing truth that dealing with this problem is not easy. Counterfeit identifications are almost always used by traffickers. Victims are also given counterfeit identifications making it hard to discover them. Recognizing the damage that this act can cause to the community at large and finding ways of tackling it is required. The US government is therefore dedicated to having strict penalties for convicted traffickers. On the other hand, a protection and support service for the victims has also been implemented but is still incomplete.
More investigation on circumstances surrounding this vice is necessary. This will hopefully create a clearer picture as to the extent of this problem and also help all interested parties to find ways on how to stop human trafficking. This is to be done in conjunction with embassies so that clear reports on the smuggling of children, women and men can be made across international boundaries. Close monitoring of the human smuggling reports is also a necessity. For a complete eradication of human trafficking, trends need to be closely studied so as to come up with strategies for combating them. Working with global communities is a way of ensuring that human smuggling is dealt with in a wholesome way. If any country is looking for ways on how to stop human trafficking, it needs to be willing to work hand in hand with other countries.
This phenomenon will require a lot of finances and logistical planning to undertake. There is a need for funding of research organizations looking into the details of human trafficking. For research processes to prevail and stand the tests of time through all impending changes, local and international funding is also necessary. Non-governmental as well as governmental organizations need to be supported at all levels in their efforts.
Education and creation of awareness is a must to get all vulnerable parties adequately equipped and informed. Having access to both private sector and governmental funding would ease the formation of outreach programs to get people well protected against violence and abuse. Anti trafficking legislation enactment in the US and internationally needs to be a requirement. This should be backed up by the employing of qualified and well-trained law enforcement officials, judicial officers, prosecutors, investigators, detectives, border guards and anti trafficking police.
Anti human smuggling police units need to be set up and properly trained. These would help in the enactment of justice through the freeing of victims, assistance with investigations, detection of trafficking groups and enforcement of justice to all victims on all levels. The victims would then get protection and support through the ordeal while traffickers would be prosecuted.
Educating of people on the dangers of falling victim to human traffickers is important. Being that these traffickers pose as friends and promise so many great things, it is necessary to authenticate any easy offers from strangers so as not to fall victim to such lies.

People should be empowered through adequate knowledge and such helpline numbers made publicly known and available. One’s immigration status should not be a hindrance to accessibility of help during a distress call. There is need to have interpreters who can speak to victims in their local languages so as to make them more at ease in reporting of human smuggling cases and also to provide effective understanding.
The work on how to stop human trafficking may still be a daunting task to persons without the right knowledge. However, with support from all affected sectors and complete interest in helping people to know their rights, solutions would definitely be found both from a local and global front.

“UNODC on human trafficking and migrant smuggling”. 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-22.
“Amnesty International – People smuggling”. 2009-03-23. Retrieved 2011-03-22.
“Slovakian ‘slave’ trafficked to Burnley for marriage”. BBC News.
“Trafficking in organs, tissues and cells and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of the removal of organs” (PDF). United Nations. 2009. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
“Human trafficking for organs/tissue removal”. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
“Human trafficking for ova removal or surrogacy”. 2004-03-31. Retrieved 2012-12-30.


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