I recently had the opportunity to read a paper by members of my family – and be impressed with the scope and relevance of the information presented in a very accessible way that can’t help but call individuals to action. The subject, of course, is human trafficking, which they cite has been labeled, by the U.S. Department of State, as “one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time.”
Human Trafficking: A Global Multi-Billion Dollar Criminal Industry
by K.T. Smith, H.M. Martin, & L.M. Smith
Read the entire paper for yourself here.
Publication information: 2013, International Journal of Public Law and Policy, Forthcoming
This paper is very interesting to read because it presents the issue of human trafficking from somewhat of a business perspective, examining the existence of this highly lucrative industry as It relates to supply and demand. Like other illegal markets, e.g. drugs and arms, this travesty of an industry continues to flourish because their is a steady and growing demand for the “products” that it offers to willing buyers/participants. Furthermore, this paper reveals the connection between corrupt governments and the success of human trafficking.
First, the authors give a brief overview of the issue. One of the most striking facts was that, in 2011, the average price of a slave, a human being, was just $90. This was presumably due to the increase in population, especially in developing countries, or supply of “slaveable property.” This is simply a symptom of the issue at the heart of the matter, which is the decrease in human rights and the value placed on individual human beings, particularly of women and children, who make up more than 70% of victims.
The industry is only growing, with more slave trade, sex trafficking, and organ trade occurring around the world. They cite that over 1 million girls in India are being worked in brothels, under inhumane conditions of rape, forced abortions, a lack of food and hygiene, where they eventually die from sexually transmitted infections or beatings. Disabled children are sold, sometimes by their own parents, to the industry to be killed, and their bodies used for organs. There seems to be relatively little public outcry over these issues, seemingly because of the personal nature of the crimes, political dilemmas, and sensitive issues of acknowledging the depravity of humans and evil in the world. I appreciate how the paper brings out that “the reality is that consumer demand is keeping the industry prosperous. This indicates
a permissive attitude on the part of consumers toward the violation of human rights, especially those of women and children.”
Research seems to show that corruption goes hand-in-hand with a host of national problems for a country. This paper, unsurprisingly, finds a positive relation between corruption, based on the Corruption Perceptions Index, and human trafficking. In other words, the more corruption in the country, the more human trafficking. Meanwhile, the pathetic truth is that research shows a negative impact of corruption on a nation’s economic activity. So, while corruption not only is tied to a host of other problems for nations and individuals, it also hurts the economic status of the country. However, like with other illegal industries, oftentimes the bread and butter of an illegal trade, including human trafficking, is actually made in developed countries with less corruption due to the money that people there are willing to spend. Even in countries not on “bad” lists, they have a substantial human trafficking industry and impose harsher punishments on drug dealing than buying and selling girls.
I found this analysis especially disturbing:
Maplecroft, a risk analysis company, annually prepares its Human Rights Risk Atlas. The Atlas is designed ‘to help business, investors and international organizations assess, compare and mitigate human rights risk across all countries.’[i] In the 2013 edition, the Atlas indicated a substantial increase in human rights violations globally. The 2013 edition was the sixth annual report, ranking 197 countries according to 24 categories of human rights violations. The Atlas reported that 32 nations were identified as having “extreme” risk of human rights violations. This amounted to a 60 percent increase over the six years of the Atlas.[ii]
[i] Maplecroft. (2013a), op. cit.
[ii] Gates, S. (2012). Human rights risk atlas 2013: Maplecroft releases annual ranking of countries at risk of human rights violations. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/human-rights-index-2013-maplecroft-human-rights-violations_n_2287960.html (August 1).
Additionally, despite the economic drawbacks of this corrupt industry, the number of consumers eager to partake of the services offered allows human trafficking to find success around the globe. Pornography seems to be another outlet that draws people into being comfortable with devaluing people, especially women and children. Furthermore, pornography is not only linked with prostitution but serves as advertisements for “services” with private clients. Nevertheless, pornography, in most cases, is not illegal but widely accepted, so it is obvious why this topic is sensitive and less protested than other human rights issues. It can be a painful or uncomfortable issue, from personal involvement or simply difficulty in acknowledging the depravity of the facts, making media attention scarce.
In conclusion, the paper ends with this petition:
Human trafficking is a people problem; it is a massive global problem connected to servicing other peoples’ wants. Human trafficking can be stopped when and if people decide that their personal profits, pleasures, and conveniences are less important than the lives and dignity of other human beings.
For your information, I also want to include the authors’ list of organizations that help fight human trafficking:
Organizations Working to End Human Trafficking
|International Justice Mission||IJM has operations in the U.S. and around the world. They have 4 missions: victim relief, perpetrator accountability, survivor care, and transformation of community and judicial structure (International Justice Mission, 2013).|
|Maiti Nepal||Maiti means mother’s home – thereby Maiti Nepal is founded on providing security like being in your mother’s arms. It serves victims of sex slavery, domestic violence, child labor, and prostitution (Mayar, 2013).|
|Polaris Project||Based in Washington, D.C., the Polaris Project facilitates global communications to locate trafficking areas and apprehend criminals. They maintain the National Human Trafficking Hotline (Polaris Project, 2013a).|
|Tiny Hands International||Tiny Hands intercepts victims trafficked in and out of Nepal, Bangladesh and India. Children go to homes with a mother and father to help the child emotionally, spiritually, and mentally (Tiny Hands International, 2013).|
|Unearthed||The goal of Unearthed is to change the hearts and minds of people involved in human trafficking in the pornography industry. They reach out to both the buyers and sellers (Unearthed, 2013).|
|UNICEF||UNICEF USA’s End Trafficking project raises awareness about child trafficking and mobilizes communities to take action to protect children (UNICEF, 2013).|
|World Relief||World Relief launched the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking, a group of Christian organizations that collaborate to design programs and training to prevent trafficking and help survivors. (World Relief, 2013).|
International Justice Mission. (2013). What we do. International Justice Mission. Retrieved from: http://www.ijm.org/our-work/what-we-do (July 20).
Mayar, F. (2013). The road to recovery: The story of Anuradha Koirala, our everyday hero. Youth Leader. Retrieved from: http://www.asia.youth-leader.org/?p=4062 (July 1).
Polaris Project. (2013). Human trafficking in the U.S. Polaris Project. Retrieved from: http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/sex-trafficking-in-the-us (July 10).
Tiny Hands International. (2013). Who we are. Tiny Hands International. Retrieved from: http://www.tinyhandsinternational.org/ (July 29).
Unearthed. (2013). The heart of the problem is the heart of the human being. Unearthed. Retrieved from: http://unearthedpictures.com/our-story (August 1).
UNICEF. (2013). End trafficking. Retrieved from: http://www.unicefusa.org/campaigns/end-trafficking/ (August 13).
World Relief. (2013). Anti-trafficking. Retrieved from: http://worldrelief.org/human-trafficking (August 13).