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University High School

Opinion: Human trafficking is a modern day slave trade

Slavery has always been an existing evil throughout history, spurring revolutions, breaking apart nations and discriminating against different groups of people.

However, it is a common misconception that it exists only in our history books, that it exists only in the past. In reality, slavery is still a common occurrence all around the world, and not in small numbers.

What distinguishes this most from past forms of slavery though is that this modern-day slave trade is not targeted to only specific groups of people. In this time, people from all different races, classes, nationalities, and genders can be victims of human trafficking.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking refers to the trade of humans against their will, usually with the intention of forced labor and sexual exploitation.

The main motivation behind this modern-day slave trade is the profit generated. According to the UNODC about $150 billion annually, $99 Billion of which is produced solely from the sex trade.

Additionally, according to the International Labour Organization, of the estimated 40.3 million victims of human trafficking, women, and girls account for 71% while 29% is accounted for by men and boys. Additionally, women and girls account for 99% of the victims of the sex industry.

How are victims trafficked?

Stage 1: Lured in

Most victims are pulled in under the false assurance of documents of foreign citizenship, the promise of money, a good job or the paying back of debts. Traffickers exploit victims physically and emotionally in order to assure these.

In some instances, a person might be heading to a new job, which in reality is a scam created by traffickers to ambush them. While in others, a person might be using public transportation and may be captured and threatened by the perpetrator.

Traffickers use a variety of different methods to lure in their victims and trap them. They take advantage of their vulnerabilities and use psychological manipulation in order to create dependency which further corners victims. Most of the time, however, traffickers use force and threats to coerce their victims.

Stage 2: Transport

Many smuggle their victims across domestic, national or international borders to trap their victims and avoid getting caught. Although, this doesn’t mean that transportation defines human trafficking. Some traffickers decide to stay in the same region.

Victims are usually transported by non-commercial transport ships and planes if overseas as well as trains and long-distance buses if domestic or international. This leaves victims in a difficult situation as they are unable to attain help due to the obscure ways in which they are transported.

Stage 3: Sold

Once victims are transported, in most cases, they are sold. They are given new names, identities, and transferred to the person who is now is their “owner.” After this point, victims have almost no means of escape and are exposed to ghastly living conditions as well as forced labor, rape, prostitution, abuse, pornography, and sex tourism.

What if a victim is saved?

It is extremely difficult for victims to escape human trafficking and hard for the police to track traffickers in order to do so. However even after a victim is saved, a new set of problems arrive.

Two major issues that victims face when reintegrating back into society regard their mental and emotional states and getting jobs

It is extremely difficult for victims to attain jobs after escaping trafficking due to their lack of documentation. When victims are trafficked, their legal and online footprints completely stop as they are deprived of any freedom, including their own identity.

To employers, however, this blank space on one’s record is not always seen as a result of injustice but is usually viewed with skepticism. Due to this, many employers are reluctant to hire victims of human trafficking.

Additionally, many victims face a multitude of physical and emotional issues as a result of their traumas. More often than not, they do not have access to good medical healthcare and are not able to address their problems as a result, which only leads to an increase in their severity.

Even if their perpetrators are caught, victims find difficulty in pressing charges against their aggressors due to their psychological states, which only worsens due to the lack of easily accessible professional mental help.

The rate of human trafficking is continually increasing especially in African, European, Asian and Central American regions, with the rate of convictions remaining dangerously low, according to the Human Trafficking report conducted by the ILO. This leaves many in inhumane situations and many at risk of getting into one.

How is the situation being addressed?

The UN has been combatting the issue of human trafficking through the implementation of certain resolutions, protocols and policy forums that not only combat human trafficking but also aid the victims in their reintegration into society.

The UNTOC (The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime) in 2000, passed protocols that created a universal definition of Human trafficking, which has made it easier to prosecute perpetrators.

Additionally, the ICAT (The Inter-agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons), has created a policy forum to coordinate UN agencies and their fight against human trafficking.

There is also a joint initiative between UNODC and the European Unions, the GLO-ACT (Global Act to prevent and address trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants), that has been implementing a four-year plan spanning from 2015 to 2019 that partners up with countries to produce and enact anti-human trafficking legislature.

Furthermore, the UN also supports multiple NGOs that support victims, such as Child Focus, Samilia Foundation, and Caritas International. It has focused its efforts on the creation of suitable legislature as well as the prosecution of offenders and the aid of victims.

Through the implementation of these policies, the UN aims to help victims get the help that they need and the justice that they deserve.