Roots and prevention of human trafficking

1% of human trafficking victims are rescued. 1% of 40-300.000 innocent imprisoned men, women and children are saved from the horrifying situations they are subject to worldwide.

Human trafficking is “the process of trapping people through the use of violence, deception or coercion and exploiting them for financial or personal gain,” according to Anti-Slavery. The crime is divided into 25 types, including pornography, domestic work, residential sex trafficking, and carnivals.

The earliest transcontinental human trafficking began with the African slave trade in the 15th century. The international trade involved American and European buyers, who saw the African slave population as a cheaper source of labor. Those kidnaped, convicted of a crime, or failing to pay a family debt were forced into harsh and torturous labor conditions.

Hundreds of years later, human trafficking still exists and is an unceasingly growing problem, with 30% of human trafficking victims being children. It is thus only natural to honestly wonder why an inhumane crime exists.

There is no singular cause of trafficking. In developing countries, crime can result from job shortages, natural disasters, religious persecution, political conflict, etc. However, the incessant growth of this modern-day issue is due to globalization. This process of facilitating the expansion across worldwide borders allows developing countries to enter the global market, thus allowing more accessible transportation of illegal migrants. These criminal organizations continue to grow and expand, worsening the global issue.

In a more newborn context, the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened victims’ vulnerabilities to trafficking. With the closing of schools and activities, children have become more susceptible to online trafficking, particularly online sexual abuse. As a result, these children are less likely to escape the situation they are trapped in. The numerous lockdowns have additionally heavily increased the risk of expanding criminal networks due to documenting fewer migrants. Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused dangerous closures of public services, civil society organizations, and other helpful resources for victims. Lack of support from these can lead to facilitated human trafficking and increased difficulty to escape.

The constantly growing criminal organizations for human trafficking are undoubtedly responsible for the torment and misery of their victims. Therefore, the leading causes of this crime include that a victim could be entrapped in trafficking.

Affecting children and adults, extreme poverty and lack of education or job opportunities can fuel such a crime. A weak, corrupt economy can result in desperation for money, especially when the possibility of finding a real job is low. This urgency for financial stability can make victims more vulnerable and give human traffickers a desire to continue exploiting their victims. Moreover, harmful social norms can result in trafficking. A typical example of this is child marriage. In this case, the victim likely comes from disadvantaged family background and is obligated to marry at a severely young age. These victims will carry unimaginable.

Diola Sokoli

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