Is Human Trafficking a Global Challenge? – Facts & Infographic
Trafficking in Persons “is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs – United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (2001).
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking or trafficking in persons is a grave crime and is dealt with severely in most countries of the world. And yet, the number of victims keeps increasing each year. Trafficking of persons occurs for three main purposes – to feed the prostitution industry or for sexual exploitation, to sell into slavery or forced labor, and to harvest human organs for sale.
According to 2012 estimates, there are about 20.9 million victims of human trafficking in the world. Human trafficking for forced labor, sexual exploitation, or organ harvesting, despite being one of the most heinous crimes of the modern world is difficult to pin down since it goes largely unreported. Only about 0.4% of the victims are identified worldwide, and fewer yet receive aid or support. According to the International Labour Organization (2007) Factsheet, about 161 countries are reported to have been affected by human trafficking. Each of these is either a source, or a destination, or a transit country. The UN estimates that each year about six to eight million people are trafficked across international borders.
A great majority of the victims of human trafficking are between the ages of 18 and 24 years. Over 1.2 million children are trafficked each year and about 80% of the victims of trafficking are women. Human trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry in the world, second only to drug trafficking. According to the United Nations (UN), it is also the fastest-growing criminal industry. Human trafficking affects every continent and country of the world.
Worst Affected Countries
“The majority of trafficked victims arguably come from the poorest countries and poorest strata of the national population.” — A global alliance against forced labor, International Labour Organisation, (2005).
Each year, the US Government releases the Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report which ranks countries on the basis of the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” - efforts made to combat trafficking as defined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA). While the Tier 1 countries make a considerable effort to fight slavery and human trafficking, the Tier 2 countries do not meet the minimum set of standards but the efforts to reach up are considerable. Countries on the Tier 2 Watch List have a significant number of victims and do not comply with the standards. Tier 3 countries do not match up to either efforts or standards required of them. The countries that received the lowest ranks in the anti-trafficking report for 2013 include Algeria, Central African Republic, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Libya, Mauritania, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and Uzbekistan. The report also authorizes sanctions against a few of these bottom tier countries and appreciates the efforts of others such as Taiwan for the initiative that screens for potential trafficking victims at airports and offers shelter and aid to such persons.
Is Trafficking Modern Slavery?
“People trafficking is the fastest growing means by which people are enslaved, the fastest growing international crime, and one of the largest sources of income for organised crime.”
— The UN Office on Drugs and Crime
According to reports from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) at least 20.9 million people are victims of human trafficking/forced labor across the world. About 44% of these 20.9 million victims are forced to travel across international borders says the ILO. According to the US federal law human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Though it is perceived differently from traditional forms of slavery, the underlying principle - that a person's liberty and servitude may be bought, sold, owned or transferred by others - remains the same. International law defines slavery as “the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.” This often happens in the case of trafficking for domestic servitude, which involves the abuse, exploitation, and ownership of victims due to the lack of legal protection, unduly harsh working and living conditions, and the exposure or vulnerability to physical, mental, sexual and economic abuse. The average age at which girls worldwide are trafficked for domestic servitude or household service is 13 years.
Trafficking And Sexual Exploitation
“An estimated 80% of all trafficked persons are used and abused as sexual slaves. This human rights violation is driven by demand for sexual services and the profit that is generated. The commodification of human beings as sexual objects, poverty, gender inequality and subordinate positions of women and girls provide fertile ground for human trafficking.” - Michelle Bachelet (Former President of Chile and UN Women Executive Director 2010-2013)
An ILO report from 2007 said that about 43% of the victims of human trafficking are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation. Among these 98% are women and girls. About 95% of all victims experience some form of physical or sexual abuse during trafficking. According to the US State Department, Traf?cking in Persons Report, 2011 about 2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade - about half of them are trafficking victims. Apart from these, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that about 500,000 women are trafficked into prostitution across the world each year.
The growth of the illegal organ trade and human trafficking for organ harvesting is due to two factors - rapid increase in longevity of men and women across the world reducing the number of legitimately available donors and a steady increase in the number of people waiting to receive organs by transplantation. Trafficking for organ harvesting may occur in different contexts - with the traffickers cheating or deceiving the victim to give up the organ; to get the victim to agree on giving up an organ as part of a transaction and then to cheat the donor by refusing to pay the agreed value; and finally by pretending to treat the victim or by murdering a victim and forcefully harvesting a healthy organ. According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, illegal organ traffickers harvest about 7,000 kidneys each year. An illegally trafficked heart could cost anywhere between $90,000 to $290,000 but how much of this reaches the donor is uncertain. In a recent incident in China, a doctor was reported to be selling kidneys belonging to poor people for €24,000 while paying the donors a mere €3,000. Apart from exploitation, murder for the sake of harvesting organs is increasing in recent years.
Is Human Trafficking a Concern in The US?
In the US, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for looking into reports of suspected human trafficking, apprehending traffickers, and protecting victims. The US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report estimates that by 2010 there were least 15,000 people trafficked into the United States each year. Victims are often forced to work in brothels, strip clubs, and fake massage parlors. On an average the age at which victims are forced into prostitution in the country is 13 or 14 years. By 2012, there were fewer than 30 safe homes providing treatment and services to victims of sex traf?cking across the country. Most victims are placed in juvenile detention facilities and do not receive proper aid.
According to the 2013 report from the Polaris Project, a leading organization fighting modern-day slavery, 39 of the 50 US states have very strong anti-trafficking laws and systems as of 2013. This comes as a considerable increase over the 21 states reported last year. South Dakota, New Hampshire, Delaware, Colorado, and Utah were rated the worst states in the fight against human trafficking, the report said. Arkansas, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Wyoming were the states that showed highest improvement in their anti-trafficking efforts and New Jersey and Washington were rated near-perfect by the report.
The Trafficking Industry
In 2005, the UN estimated that human trafficking was a $31.6 billion (£20 billion) industry. By 2013, this figure could have increased substantially but later estimates are not available. About $15.5 billion (49%) of these profits come from industrialized economies. Nearly $9.7 billion (30.6%) comes from Asia and the Pacific, $1.3 billion (4.1%) from Latin America and the Caribbean, $1.6 billion (5%) from sub-Saharan Africa, and $1.5 billion (4.7%) from the Middle East and North Africa.
According to ILO estimates about 52% of the traffickers recruiting victims are men and about 42% are women. While in about 54% of cases of human trafficking, the trafficker is a stranger to the victim, in about 46% of cases the recruiter is known to victim. Identification of traffickers, victims, and prosecutions, however, remains a major global challenge. In 2006 only 5,808 suspects were prosecuted among which 3,160 were convicted across the world. It is estimated that only one person is prosecuted for every 800 people trafficked making it a relatively risk-free crime. In most countries covered by the UNODC report, conviction rates for human trafficking seldom exceed 1.5 prosecutions per 100,000 victims. In 2007-2008, the UNODC observed that two out of five countries covered by the report had not recorded even one conviction.
Who Are The Crusaders?
The Polaris Project is a non-profit organization – one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in the US and Japan. The Polaris Project was established in 2002. In April, 2013, Polaris Project and Google together announced their collaboration in the launch of a Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network. Apart from these, International Justice Mission, Pillars of Peace, Breaking Free, California Against Slavery, and Araminta Freedom Initiative are a few of the many non-profit organizations and initiatives undertaken to combat human trafficking in the US. Worldwide, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, MANNA Freedom, The Emancipation Network, Silent Integrity, Somaly Mam Foundation, Stop The Traffik, and Stop Child Trafficking Now strive to fight the menace. According to the second UNODC report, trafficking patterns in 155 countries were studied and reported. Apart from these, the United Nations and a number of its agencies including the WHO and ILO have undertaken a number of initiatives to combat human trafficking, rescue and aid victims, and initiate legislations in various countries. Governments of a number of countries have agencies to counter cross-country trafficking and prevent domestic trafficking as well.
United Nations Efforts
The UN.GIFT (United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking) is a UN initiative to garner support in the global fight against human trafficking. Till date, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons especially Women and Children has been signed by about 140 parties including governments, corporations, and social organizations. The UN.GIFT was set up with a grant from the United Arab Emirates and subsequently received substantial aid from the governments of Governments of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, and Switzerland and from other UN agencies.
The Blue Heart campaign is a UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) initiative in its capacity as guardian of the United Nations Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) to assist states in their effort to implement the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons.
It is an attempt to raise awareness, to fight the trafficking of persons, and to provide aid and support to victims. The Blue Heart Campaign was launched on March 8 - International Women's Day - in 2008 at the Women's World Awards in Vienna. UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, launched the campaign to provide support to the millions of trafficking victims in the world. The Blue Heart Campaign runs highly successful awareness initiatives on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The global fight against human trafficking can only be won by improving the conditions that lead to trafficking in the developing countries of the world, better implementation of existing laws in both source and destination countries, and greater awareness by society at large across the world.