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Growing Human Trafficking: A Major Problem Worldwide

By ANANT MISHRA [Former Youth Representative to United Nations] New Delhi: The problem of human trafficking has been haunting international community for decades. It refers to acquiring people by force, fraud or deception with an objective to exploit them. This heinous crime results merciless abuse of women, children and men for many purposes. United Nations defines human trafficking as a process by which people are recruited by traffickers within their community through deception or coercive means, and are exploited. This crime undergoes in three phases: the act, the means and the purpose. All the three elements comprise the word “trafficking” of a human being, violating his rights. Speaking extensively “the act” means recruitment, transport, harbouring of person or persons intended for trafficking, while “the means” refers to means to lure a person through deception, threat or use of force or by lucrative means. Moreover “The purpose” comprises the form of exploitation traffickers do to their victims from forced labour, sexual exploitation to domestic services; it can be in any form. What-Is-Human-Trafficking History of the issue Slavery saw its “end” during the fall of 19th century by the Western powers, we all have seen the movie Lincoln and we know he was the one who instigated the abolishment of slavery. It will not be wrong to say that this abolishment of slavery now has been painted in a different from of human trade. Human slavery has not been abolished and what we are facing currently is a meagre aftermath; instead it has changed the need in the global market and assumed a new character—one characterized by increasing national dependency. We take a glimpse in our history many abolition movements along with mass mobilization against slavery followed by many non governmental agencies (NGOs) continued to pressure the League of Nations for creating“international machinery” to protect those vulnerable in the human trade. The League responded by forming the “Temporary Slavery Commission” to battle human trafficking in the year of 1924. The TSC called for a broader response from international community’s followed by cooperation among nations worldwide with the support of League of Nations. This commission established the 1926 Convention on Slavery, which prohibited both slavery and slave trade and requested the colonial governments to undertake the procedures in the convention. However the convention proved to be a huge success in the history of mankind as it was perfect example of cooperation and the human will but it too had some cons. Most important issue such as the debt of bondage and age of girls for labour were not covered in the convention. It also lacked rapid involvement of law enforcement as well as the rules and regulations for trials of traffickers if caught, along with important measures on how independent sovereign nations can curb this issue within their state. Current Situation It might surprise you if I say; this is a multibillion dollar industry that produces huge profits for traffickers and traps millions of souls into forced labour, domestic servitude followed by sale of organs, sexual work and child soldiering, along with other evils. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates around 20.9 million people victimized by this forced labour. The estimate also includes people who are victimized by sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. However it is unsure about the total estimated trafficking in the world but millions in person are trafficked every year in the world. Human trafficking is a heinous crime that has been affecting every country in the world. As a result we have number of regional responses and few global responses followed by many stakeholders tackling the issue. Thus as we dig deep more human trafficking cases appear in front, making it a perfect example of global helplessness. The term is itself self explanatory, the trafficking rings links from a region in a country to another region within the same country (one of origin and one of destination for victims of trafficking in persons), victimising almost 5 persons from the same destination; there are about 460 such flows across all regions and sub regions, and involving most countries. Human trafficking can now no longer be covered in the cloud of underdevelopment, however poor living standards becomes a cause of increasing criminality in the region. The trafficking stem can be a cause of major institutional failure of a country but the crime is hardly considered into account as the victims enter in their destinations, that too a highly developed one. Moreover industrialisation powered economies see a total of 49% of cases in human trafficking. Within target countries, trafficking rings often interact with drug trade, gang violence, white-collar corruption, and political foul play, becoming a formidably destabilizing force at both its source and destination. Thus crime instigates crime. Thus it is precisely the situation that makes a nation vulnerable and hence it is imperative that it is eradicated completely. The signing of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children in 2000 signalled a landmark moment in the global response to the issue. Talking about People’s Republic of China alone, the case of internal human trafficking consumes more person than any nation, specially the internally displaced ones. Around 10,000 and 20,000 victims are said to be trafficked annually within the East Asian nation. Men, women, and children are relocated from the impoverished countryside to the wealthier eastern coastal areas for labour and sexual exploitation. This has become a most notable trend in China in along with sex trafficking and has been the momentous growth of the so called industry. In spite of the Chinese government’s strict laws on prostitution, trafficking still grows like a parasite within the nation. Human trafficking occurs in many forms—human rights, prostitution, organized crime, gender relations, and migration, are just a few. Hence it is imperative that actions are taken separately as so called measures that are implemented today are ineffective and unfeasible. Human Trafficking: An Organized Crime Numerous environmental calamities and wars have groomed human trafficking into an industry during 1960’s. In Thailand itself, number of malnutrition children is more than orphaned nutrition children hence making them a viable target for child traffickers. Traffickers roam around the streets of Asian and South Asian nations looking for homeless children and women, deceive them with promising salary and work, which a homeless individual specially women does not ignore. From Southeast Asia, victims are transported and dispersed throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, with little to no legal consequences for traffickers. Now we have understood what human trafficking is, let us now move to how and what factors affects this rise in human trafficking. Globalization Globalization is defined as “a dynamic and multidimensional process whereby national resources become more and more internationally mobile while national economies become increasingly interdependent”. Globalization has expanded international shipment networks, easing transportation of trafficked persons from their home countries to centres of demand. It has increased the linkages among various nations, from port to port; from city to city hence it has broadened the market of human trafficking. The growing internet boundaries have also made strong connections among traffickers and also assist in providing easy routes to other countries. Supply and Demand The second most important factor that links socio economic concerns of a nation with this transnational crime is the demand and supply. The victims arrive in the nation in the form of domestic helps, labours and unskilled labours with nil or no form of financial assistance. They come from nations with poor economic conditions, socially rejected and corruption rigged governments. These traffickers promise them with high wages, employment and better standard of living.  However they end up living in unhealthy environment, poor living conditions and cheap unskilled labour. Labour scarcity and high demand of entertainment services have increased the demands of human trafficking making it more profitable crime than ever. Low risk and Costs There are various international and national laws that have curbed the movement of international trafficking hence it is highly unlikely that it will enter into private organizations. Although where laws exists, they are very lenient which means meagrely punishable or a simple fine or participated by active law enforcement officials. The growing appeal of human trafficking must also be contextualized against the diminishing popularity of drug trafficking as an alternative transnational crime operation. Drug trafficking has received significant media and legislative attention, heightening chances of arrest and prosecution for perpetrators. Human trafficking has thus become a safer and more profitable option for international criminals. According to a report published by UNHCR on Trafficking in Human Beings, trafficking suspects were estimated between the ages of 18 and 41 in 70 percent of registered cases between 2002 and 2006. Data also suggests that the major trafficking suspects are male however it is an undeniable fact that women participation is also increasing, the report further states, during 2004, males comprised 81 percent of suspects, a figure that increased to 87 percent the following year. However the year 2005 saw a significant rise in women traffickers as they elude themselves from prosecution by international and regional law enforcement agencies. Operation Organization size There are various misconceptions about the size of the organization and leader who leads them. Of the few cases that are registered and traffickers are caught, people assume this to be a small scale organization. Just because only 1 out of 800 victims are liberated from this web, people and concerned authorities do not understand the modernization and scope of the traffickers. It is not wrong to say that smaller operations are easy to catch due to the involvement of few traffickers and they are easily apprehended; they also lack the financial resources to bribe the corrupt law enforcement agents. Hence legal apprehension of large scale cases are very often and traffickers caught disappear in thin air, after granted bail. Mostly areas of weak governance the cases of illegal trafficking are more as the state authorities neither have neither time nor resources to deal with issues like these. Recruitment Areas especially in South East Asia and other parts of Asia, traffickers easily enter places of worship and undeveloped areas to lure victims. These recruiters hire people on the basis of false contracts and extradite their targets using false documents to authentic agencies. Young women often become a victim in this trap and are burdened with severe debt bondage: while on reaching the destination they are handed to crime brothels, traffickers group or drug cartels where these victims are asked for heavy sum of money for their freedom. In nations like Vietnam young women are trafficked in the name of marriage with rich Chinese and Taiwanese male nationals. However there are victims who enter into this trade. Creating a cloud of false marriage and richness these women are sold into prostitution. Traffickers disguise themselves as the members of same community, caste and religion of the victims and use their coercive tactics to lure them into this “industry”. Although recruitment takes place mostly upon ethnicity of the neighbouring nations. As recruitment of human smuggling occurs mostly in mass, the human trafficking recruitment takes place mostly on race, religion and physical capacity, emphasizing more on quality than quantity. In the region of Asia and the Pacific recruitment occurs mostly on the trust and comfort followed by false promises. The factors that play a major role in victimising a person is the level of education and financial condition as depending upon this, the traffickers ear their “cut”. Women who are already entrenched in the trafficking industry may also return to their rural villages, misleadingly praising the spoils of their new occupation to friends and relatives. These women receive additional pay for each additional recruit they lure into the business. Modernisation of trade routes and transport With the huge expansion in networks and globalization in victims find themselves displaced far from home especially the ones involving human exploitation. Victims are trafficked from the regions of Asia Pacific and sold to their buyers in Paris, New York, Moscow, and Siberia and assume jobs. Traffickers take every path cautiously while trafficking their victims as they take measures to ensure safe delivery. These traffickers on various occasions encounter border patrols and law enforcement officials whom they bribe heavily. They then use their knowledge to seek logistics support and dodge surveillances. The transportation of victims varies separately from, land or air or by sea. They treat their victims very humanly and sometimes lavishly depending upon the price and their buyer, for example some Filipino trafficked persons en route to Japan have even been housed in four- and five-star hotels prior to arriving at their destination. Methods of Manipulation One of the most important methods of debt manipulation on victims is the disclosed and undisclosed manipulation. Sometimes it is noticed that these victims pay some amount of money for their transportation to the traffickers and even if the debt is paid, these traffickers threaten them for imprisonment and bondage. Another inhuman tactics is acquiring immigration documents illegally. When victims reach their destinations they no longer have their proof or valid documents of their origin countries hence they seek enormous difficulty in seeking asylum. Lastly, these perpetrators threaten to kill or decimate lives of their family members back in their origin nation and create pressure. These victims are also subject to severe beatings, blackmail, and violence for failure to cooperate with traffickers. Trafficking by Forced Labour This whole operation is conducted by various actors, starting from agent level to recruiters, transporters and finally the employer who gets the benefit of all. However in some of the cases many traffickers have worked as transporters. However, with the increase in communication and telecommunication means and easy access of transportation followed by increasing demands of cheap labour. Private recruitment agencies, intermediaries and employers may take advantage of this situation and lure potential migrants into exploitative employment. Child Labour Many international and national laws have been set up to curb child labour but its still grows beneath the law. The most hazardous form of child labour is the sale and trafficking of children. Forced recruitment of children into armed conflicts and drug abuse makes the condition intense. Victims lose their freedom and take the form of modern day slaves. They are at times beaten and due to that they attain permanent physical and psychological complications, isolation from families and communities, reduced opportunities for personal development, and restricted movement. Victims of law enforcement and look for traffickers for help hence these vicious criminals exploit the vulnerability of these children and feed them fear. Child victims are further denied educational access, which reinforces the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. How can we tackle it? It does not take a pundit to understand that the response to curb international organ trafficking is a total failure. Looking at the aspect of severe human rights violations and serious health conditions of the victims, it is very essential that the problem is given attention. It can be done in following ways: •    Implementing appropriate laws and following UN provisions till the last detail. •    Strengthen law enforcement agencies and forming a separate unit in regional and international police organizations. •    Training and orientation of the law enforcement agencies as well as the medical staff who are likely to be drawn into the commission of the offence, especially for want of the dimensions of the crime. •    Creating awareness among the people as they are the eyes and ears of any successful operation. •    Displaying posters and public awareness programs for the general public. Mandatory provisions and availability of medicines in the health centres so that the victim can be given proper attention. It is very important to understand the role in matters of human trafficking along with its clandestine routes. It is imperative that policy makers tackle the issue of poor socioeconomic development that creates a situation vulnerable for a human being as he helplessly finds himself in a devil’s web. Just because a failed institution couldn’t protect him from the hands of perpetrators and the so called leaders failed to provide him “sovereignty and freedom” that we so solemnly breathe in every breath we take.

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