Who are human traffickers and what do human traffickers do? Human traffickers are individuals or groups/ gangs who use people as commodities that can be bought and sold just like goods. Put simply people usually become involved with human trafficking because it is a way of making money. There may be other factors such as poverty and lack of options. As we will see from the example below, all kinds of people become involved in trafficking.
Human trafficking mostly involves women and children but does include men too. It happens 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.
Examples of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So it is clear the people involved with human trafficking can be found from wide ranging and diverse backgrounds. The motivations for becoming involved can be very different but the experience for the victim involves a violation of their human rights.