People at risk of human trafficking are generally poor and vulnerable. The trafficking of humans is a form of modern day slavery. People are treated as ’goods’ traded or child labour, forced labour, sexual slavery, or sexual exploitation. It also includes the harvesting of human organs and tissues. Men, women and children are exploited as commodities. It does not always involve moving people from one place to another.
Child trafficking is a high percentage of international trafficking. IOM indicated in 2011 that around 35% of human trafficking involved 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 is also far reaching and wide ranging. It affects 4.5 million people worldwide according to the International Labour Organisation. Again many people are lured into this as a way of escaping their current situation and having more opportunities or because they have very little choice.
Examples of human trafficking
Trafficking of children
In 2015 there were devastating earthquakes in Nepal. Following this people lost family members, homes and sources of income. As such, there was an increase of girls forced into labour and sexual exploitation in neighbouring countries. Gangs could earn a reported $570 for every child they supplied to traffickers. UNICEF responded to this crisis and provided children’s centres to get children off the streets and keep them safe from traffickers. There they also taught about how to keep themselves safe and healthy.
In this example, the children’s circumstances gave them very little control or choice.
Across Europe there are many Nigerian sex workers. Nigerian prostitutes can be found everywhere in Europe. They are often lured into this work with promises of a better life. Once the women arrive in Europe they are expected to pay for their trip. They are indebted. The debt is far greater than the actual cost of the trip and they become trapped. Nigerian sex workers are often indebted to a woman known as Madame. The Madame will also manipulate the women using superstition and voodoo. Should they break their oaths to the Madame they are led to believe they will experience misfortune, madness, illness and death.
These women were at risk of human trafficking as their lives were difficult prior to this and they were seeking better options.
12 year old Gloria is born into an extremely poor family. After her father dies her family do not have enough money to eat and they are starving. Her mother has no choice but to sell Gloria into a marriage. Gloria’s new 35 year old husband would pay a small dowry (payment) for the marriage to Gloria’s mother. Following the marriage gloria quickly becomes pregnant and stops attending eduction. In this instance Gloria’s mother and husband are guilty of human trafficking.
Gloria was at risk due to extreme poverty. In this instance she and her family faced starvation.
In the United Kingdom in January 2004 twenty Chinese cockle pickers tragically died. The men had been imported illegally via containers into Liverpool. They were then used by local criminals and gangs as though they were commodities rather than humans. They were forced to collect cockles at Warton Sands. It was difficult and dangerous work. The Chinese workers were unfamiliar with local geography, language, and custom. Due to this lack of knowledge they were cut off by the incoming tide in the bay and perished.
The Chinese men were lured over to Britain. Perhaps with the promise of money or opportunities or both. Their lives back in China must’ve been pretty unpleasant for them risk putting themselves in this situation.
In Kosovo on April 29, 2013 five people were convicted for their participation in an organ trafficking network. Individuals from Russia, Moldova, Kazakhtan and Turkey had been trafficked into Kosovo with promises of up to $20,000 for their kidneys. Their organs were transplanted into foreign patients who paid up to $200,000. The victims did not receive the $20,000 offered. The network included highly regarded surgeons, professors and an official in Kosovo’s Health Ministry.
These victims were lured by the promise of money. They were not necessarily living in poverty but required money and were prepared to sell their own organs to acquire it.