Human trafficking is among the most gruesome and disheartening realities of this world. It is an epidemic that plagues every corner of this globe often targeting the most vulnerable of society, women and children. The grotesque realities of human trafficking are manifested in different forms, each associated with a string of endless consequences. This paper will focus on the modern-day forms of human trafficking, the negative consequences of each category, and the preventive measures taken against the issue.
To understand human trafficking, one must assay the three key elements it entails. The first is an act. This can be anything from recruitment to transportation. The second element is the means. Examples of this are force and coercion. The final element is the exploitative purpose. Common purposes include forced labor and slavery (Chuang, 2014). As mentioned earlier, human trafficking affects the entire world as a whole, including the developed nations. There is a conservative estimate of 50,000 individuals currently being trafficked in the United States.
Unfortunately, of this high amount only a few victims of trafficking and even fewer traffickers are being found. Only 111 cases were prosecuted by the Department of Justice in 2006 (Limoncelli, 2010). Thus, this issue may be a greater issue than is often considered. Human trafficking can manifest itself in many different forms. Of these, there are three prominent ones. The first category is human trafficking for the purpose of labor. This involves recruiting, transporting, transferring, and harboring individuals for the primary purpose of exploitation through forced labor and services.
This labor can be in a domestic setting or for manufacturing, entertainment, or agricultural purposes (Chuang, 2014). Often, those involved in this type of human trafficking lack severe accountability as they are easily able to manipulate their workers by promising money even if only a little. This way, the workers seem like ordinarily hired individuals and not people who have been exploited to work (Limoncelli, 2010). Forced labor is much like the slavery situation in the United States that is read about in history textbooks.
Unfortunately, however, it is not just a dark phase of the past as the practice is still thriving across the world. Many industries rely on human trafficking because it is a means of great profit for them. Often, those they exploit have no legal status and are treated like criminals that are unable to escape. Most cases of forced labor involve people who are not native to the country they are working in. this is advantageous for the traffickers as the language barrier and unfamiliar land keeps the exploited individuals under tight control (Mahler, 1997).
Due to the high level of control laborers are under, they are subject to imprisonment for not carrying proper documentations if they try to escape from their traffickers (Farrell, 2015). This adds yet another level of entrapment making it increasingly difficult for individuals to free themselves from this oppression. Individuals forced into labor through trafficking live in extremely poor conditions. Often times, people are born into it because if their parents were forced into labor, the children are expected to work as well. If the laborers are paid, the pay is very low.
These individuals generally do not receive an education and remain in poverty for their entire lives. Health conditions are also exceptionally unfortunate (Limoncelli, 2010). These conditions establish human trafficking in the form of forced labor as often being endless. Thus, although it may not be as abusive as other forms of trafficking, it can be considered one of the hardest to escape. Another form of human trafficking is known as sex trafficking. Sex trafficking affects the most individuals compared to other forms of human trafficking (Mahler, 1997).
It can occur in the form of prostitution or even for the purpose of pornography. Although adult women are most susceptible to this oppression, there also multiple cases of children being trafficked and a few of men (Chuang, 2014). Often those coerced are promised favors or threatened as a means of control. Due to the nature of sex trafficking as one being looked down upon morally, traffickers find it easy to black mail victims into staying by telling them they will be dishonored even more if they attempt to escape.
This threat works the best in countries where family honor is held at a very high standard. A few of these countries include India, China, and Japan (Day, 2009). Victims of sex trafficking are not only subject to sexual abuse but also to extreme non-sexual physical abuse as well. Unlike in the case of forced laborers, victims of sex trafficking are also controlled through drugs. The traffickers ensure that they are the only suppliers of certain drugs they get their victims addicted to. Thus, the victims feel too helpless to ever leave.
Additionally, traffickers make it a point to get emotionally involved with their victims by acting as a family although blatant abuse is occurring (Hill & Rodriguez, 2011). By using these forms of dependencies, the trafficked individuals remain in a cycle of abuse. As mentioned earlier, sex workers develop detrimental addictions to harmful drugs such as heroine and meth (Hill & Rodriguez, 2011). Additionally, they are likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases which harm the people they interact with as well (Day, 2009).
The worst of these diseases is HIV which is an autoimmune disease that can easily spread through sexual relations. The emotional damage that occurs through sex trafficking is also very severe. Victims often find it difficult to trust people and lack the knowledge of what a true relationship is like. (Chuang, 2014). Thus, they are less likely to ever get in a stable, non-abusive relationship even if they are able to leave their work. This is unfortunate as unlike physical damage, emotional abuse is much harder to eradicate and can easily remain throughout one’s life even if their circumstances change for the better.
Sex trafficking can permanently damage one’s reputation and make it difficult for them to ever find a normal job as well. Due to the widespread nature of the issue of human trafficking, many attempts have been made in effort to put an end to it. There has been many attempts at the international and regional level to institute anti-trafficking laws. For example, under President Bill Clinton, the “3 P’s” were adopted. These set of regulations focused on prosecuting the traffickers, protecting the victim, and preventing future cases.
The Clinton administration soon realized that this issue extended beyond the borders of the United States. Thus, in attempt to set international standards, the United States passed laws that that empowered the president to levy economic sanctions against states refused to act according to its anti- trafficking standards (Chuang, 2014). This power aided a rapid change in the worldwide view of human trafficking. Although it hasn’t been eradicated, the Clinton Administration began a promising wave of change.
One issue with the present anti-trafficking laws is that a majority focus only on sex trafficking while ignoring forced labor. The United States has been guilty of forced labor itself (Farrell, 2015). Thus it is under scrutiny for attempting to curb one aspect of human trafficking while turning a blind eye to the other. Any change is better than no change, however. Due to the increasing awareness on a global level towards these issues, it seems as though the world is one step closer to a permanent solution for these gruesome expressions of unruly power and greed.