What is Human Trafficking? 

What is human trafficking

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery. The dictionary definition is: ‘the illegal practice of procuring or trading in human beings for the purpose of prostitution, forced labour, or other forms of exploitation.’

The United Nations produced The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. It was adopted by General Assembly resolution 55/25 and entered into force on 25 December 2003. At this time it was the first global legally binding instrument with an agreed definition on trafficking in persons.

Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, defines it as; ‘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.’

So human trafficking is the trade of humans. People are used as ‘things’ that can be bought and sold just like goods. Human trafficking mostly involves women and children but also includes men. It can and does occur in countries all over the world. It does not necessarily involve moving people from one place to another. Human trafficking is a crime. It is a violation against human rights as it restricts movement and is exploitative.   

Why are People Trafficked? 

Trafficking of children

Children are considered to be anyone under 18 years of age. They are exploited for many reasons. This could be for sexual exploitation such as prostitution or child pornography. It may be for forced labour or slavery. In some instances children are used for organ transfers. They could be trafficked for international adoption, early marriage or to be used as beggars (children are often more successful at begging than adults). Children have been used during wars as soldiers, porters and wives for the adult soldiers. In some instances children may be trafficked for sporting reasons, to be used and trained as athletes such as footballs players or child camel jockeys.    

A high percentage of international trafficking involves children. IOM indicated in 2011 that round 35% of human trafficking was children. Poor areas tend to have the highest instances. For families living in extreme poverty there is sometimes little choice. Parents may be forced to sell children to survive. 

Sex Trafficking

Sex Trafficking is far reaching and wide ranging. The International Labour Organisation stated that it affects 4.5 million people worldwide. It involves individuals being forced into sex work through threats, physical and mental abuse, deception and as debt repayment. People do not have to be moved from one place to another to be identified as sex trafficked. 

Forced Marriage 

A forced marriage is one is is not agreed to by both people. Servile marriage is a marriage involving one person who has been used as a commodity and has been bought, transferred or inherited.

Forced marriage is a form of modern slavery and sometimes comes under human trafficking if a person is sent to another country, they did not consent or if they are forced to engage in sexual acts they did not consent to. This then becomes sex trafficking. If they are used as a servant in any way this then falls under labour trafficking. 

Labour trafficking 

This involves the movement of people to be used as slaves. They may be forced to work in difficult, unsafe, unsanitised and dangerous environments. They may be forced to work long hours for little or no money. It often involved domestic, construction, manufacturing and agriculture work. 

Organ trafficking

This again often involves those who are poor and vulnerable. In some cases the victim may voluntarily give up an organ through desperation for money/ goods. They can then paid less or not at all for the organ. Sometimes an organ can be taken without consent during treatment for another issue. 

You can view our Modern Slavery online training course here.