Human Trafficking

Human trafficking

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Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor.

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also referred to as theTrafficking Protocol) was adopted by the United Nations in Palermo, Italy in 2000, and is an international legal agreement attached to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The Trafficking Protocol is one of three Protocols adopted to supplement the Convention.[1] The Protocol is the first global, legally binding instrument on trafficking in over half a century and the only one that sets out an agreed definition of trafficking in persons. The purpose of the Protocol is to facilitate convergence in national cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons. An additional objective of the Protocol is to protect and assist the victims of trafficking in persons with full respect for their human rights. The Trafficking Protocol defines human trafficking as:

(a) [...] the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitationforced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
(b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
(c) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;

(d) “Child” shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.[2]

The Trafficking Protocol entered into force on 25 December 2003. By June 2010, the Trafficking Protocol had been ratified by 117 countries and 137 parties.[3]



Overview and differentiation

This section needs additionalcitations for verification.(August 2009)

Trafficking is a lucrative industry. It has been identified as the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.[4] It is second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable illegal industry in the world.[5] In 2004, the total annual revenue for trafficking in persons were estimated to be between USD$5 billion and $9 billion.[6]

In 2005, Patrick Belser of ILO estimated a global annual profit of $31.6 billion.[7] In 2008, the United Nations estimated nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked into 137 countries around the world.[8]

However, it is argued that many of these statistics are grossly inflated to aid advocacy of anti-trafficking NGOs and the anti-trafficking policies of governments. Due to the definition of trafficking being a process (not a singly defined act) and the fact that it is a dynamic phenomenon with constantly shifting patterns relating to economic circumstances, much of the statistical evaluation is flawed.[9]

Human trafficking differs from people smuggling. In the latter, people voluntarily request or hire an individual, known as a smuggler, to covertly transport them from one location to another. This generally involves transportation from one country to another, where legal entry would be denied upon arrival at the international border. There may be no deception involved in the (illegal) agreement. After entry into the country and arrival at their ultimate destination, the smuggled person is usually free to find their own way.

According to the International Centre for Migration Policy development (ICMPD): Human smuggling is a: “Crime against State – no victim by the crime of smuggling as such (violation of immigration laws/public order; the crime of smuggling by definition does not require violations of the rights of the smuggled migrants)”. Whereas human traffic is a: “Crime against person – victim; violation of the rights of the victim of trafficking by definition (violation of person’s human rights; victim of coercion and exploitation that give rise to duties by the State to treat the individual as a victim of a crime and human rights violation)”[2]

While smuggling requires travel, trafficking does not. Much of the confusion rests with the term itself. The word “trafficking” includes the word “traffic,” which means transportation or travel. However, while the words look and sound alike, they do not hold the same meaning.

Victims of human trafficking are not permitted to leave upon arrival at their destination. They are held against their will through acts of coercion and forced to work or provide services to the trafficker or others. The work or services may include anything from bonded or forced labor to commercialized sexual exploitation.[10][11] The arrangement may be structured as a work contract, but with no or low payment or on terms which are highly exploitative. Sometimes the arrangement is structured as debt bondage, with the victim not being permitted or able to pay off the debt.

Bonded labor, or debt bondage, is probably the least known form of labor trafficking today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service in which its terms and conditions have not been defined or in which the value of the victims’ services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. The value of their work is greater than the original sum of money “borrowed.”[12]

Forced labor is a situation in which victims are forced to work against their own will, under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment, their freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted. Men are at risk of being trafficked for unskilled work, which globally generates $31bn according to the International Labor Organization.[13] Forms of forced labor can include domestic servitude; agricultural labor; sweatshop factory labor; janitorial, food service and other service industry labor; and begging.[12]

Sex trafficking victims are generally found in dire circumstances and easily targeted by traffickers. Individuals, circumstances, and situations vulnerable to traffickers include homeless individuals, runaway teens, displaced homemakers, refugees, job seekers, tourists, kidnap victims and drug addicts. While it may seem like trafficked people are the most vulnerable and powerless minorities in a region, victims are consistently exploited from any ethnic and social background.[14]

Fake job offers are a common way to obtain women in Asia, the Former Soviet Block Nations and Latin America.[citation needed]

Traffickers, also known as pimps or madams, exploit vulnerabilities and lack of opportunities, while offering promises of marriage, employment, education, and/or an overall better life. However, in the end, traffickers force the victims to become prostitutes or work in the sex industry[14] Various work in the sex industry includes prostitution, dancing in strip clubs, performing in pornographic films and pornography, and other forms of involuntary servitude.

Human trafficking does not require travel or transport from one location to another, but one form of sex trafficking involves international agents and brokers who arrange travel and job placements for women from one country. Women are lured to accompany traffickers based on promises of lucrative opportunities unachievable in their native country. However, once they reach their destination, the women discover that they have been deceived and learn the true nature of the work that they will be expected to do. Most have been told false information regarding the financial arrangements and conditions of their employment and find themselves in coercive or abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous.[15] According to a 2009 U.S. Department of Justice report, there were 1,229 suspected human trafficking incidents in the United States from January 2007- September 2008. Of these, 83 percent were sex trafficking cases, though only 9% of all cases could be confirmed as examples of human trafficking.[16]

Child labour is a form of work that is likely to be hazardous to the physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development of children and can interfere with their education. The International Labor Organization estimates worldwide that there are 246 million exploited children aged between 5 and 17 involved in debt bondageforced recruitment for armed conflictprostitutionpornography, the illegal drug trade, the illegal arms trade, and other illicit activities around the world.

Trafficking in children

Trafficking of children is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation.

Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children can take many forms and include forcing a child into prostitution[17][18] or other forms of sexual activity or child pornography. Child exploitation can also include forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, the removal of organs, illicit international adoption, trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, for use in begging or as athletes (such as child camel jockeys or football players), or for recruitment for cults.[19]

It was reported in 2010 that Thailand and Brazil were considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records.[20]

Trafficking in children often involves exploitation of the parents’ extreme poverty. Parents may sell children to traffickers in order to pay off debts or gain income, or they may be deceived concerning the prospects of training and a better life for their children. They may sell their children for labor, sex trafficking, or illegal adoptions.

The adoption process, legal and illegal, when abused can sometimes result in cases of trafficking of babies and pregnant women between the West and the developing world.[21] InDavid M. Smolin’s papers on child trafficking and adoption scandals between India and the United States,[22][23] he presents the systemic vulnerabilities in the inter-country adoption system that makes adoption scandals predictable.

Thousands of children from Asia, Europe, North America and South America are sold into the global sex trade every year. Often they are kidnapped or orphaned, and sometimes they are actually sold by their own families.[24][not in citation given] In the U.S. Department of Justice 07-08 study, more than 30 percent of the total number of trafficking cases for that year were children coerced into the sex industry.[16]

Human trafficking and sexual exploitation

A world map showing the legislative situation in different countries to prevent female trafficking as of 2009 according to Woman Stats Project.[25]

There is no universally accepted definition of trafficking for sexual exploitation. The term encompasses the organized movement of people, usually women, between countries and within countries for sex work with the use of physical coercion, deception and bondage through forced debt. However, the issue becomes contentious when the element of coercion is removed from the definition to incorporate facilitating the willing involvement in prostitution. For example, in the United Kingdom, The Sexual Offenses Act, 2003 incorporated trafficking for sexual exploitation but did not require those committing the offence to use coercion, deception or force, so that it also includes any person who enters the UK to carry out sex work with consent as having been trafficked.[26] In addition, any minor involved in a commercial sex act in the United States while under the age of 18 qualifies as a trafficking victim, even if no movement is involved, under the definition of Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons, in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.[27]

A 2011 paper published in Human Rights Review, “Sex Trafficking: Trends, Challenges and Limitations of International Law,” notes that, since 2000, the number of sex-trafficking victims has risen while costs associated with trafficking have declined: “Coupled with the fact that trafficked sex slaves are the single most profitable type of slave, costing on average $1,895 each but generating $29,210 annually, leads to stark predictions about the likely growth in commercial sex slavery in the future.” In 2008, 12.3 million individuals were classified as “forced laborers, bonded laborers or sex-trafficking victims,” the study states. Approximately 1.39 million of these individuals worked as commercial sex slaves, with women and girls comprising 98%, or 1.36 million, of this population.[28]

The international Save the Children organization stated: “… The issue, however, gets mired in controversy and confusion when prostitution too is considered as a violation of the basic human rights of both adult women and minors, and equal to sexual exploitation per se. … trafficking and prostitution become conflated with each other. …. On account of the historical conflation of trafficking and prostitution both legally and in popular understanding, an overwhelming degree of effort and interventions of anti-trafficking groups are concentrated on trafficking into prostitution.”[29] The line between forced and voluntary prostitution is very thin, and prostitution in and of itself is seen by many as an abusive practice and a form of violence against women. In SwedenNorway and Iceland it is illegal to pay for sex (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute).

Sexual trafficking includes coercing a migrant into a sexual act as a condition of allowing or arranging the migration. Sexual trafficking uses physical coercion, deception and bondage incurred through forced debt. Trafficked women and children, for instance, are often promised work in the domestic or service industry, but instead are usually taken tobrothels where their passports and other identification papers are confiscated. They may be beaten or locked up and promised their freedom only after earning – through prostitution – their purchase price, as well as their travel and visa costs.[30][31]

The main motive of a woman (in some cases, an underage girl) to accept an offer from a trafficker is better financial opportunities for herself or her family. In many cases, traffickers initially offer ‘legitimate’ work or the promise of an opportunity to study. The main types of work offered are in the catering and hotel industry, in bars and clubs, modeling contracts, or au pair work. Traffickers sometimes use offers of marriage, threats, intimidation and kidnapping as means of obtaining victims. In the majority of cases, the women end up in prostitution. Also some (migrating) prostitutes become victims of human trafficking. Some women know they will be working as prostitutes, but they have an inaccurate view of the circumstances and the conditions of the work in their country of destination.[32][33]

Trafficking victims are also exposed to different psychological problems. They suffer social alienation in the host and home countries. Stigmatizationsocial exclusion, andintolerance make reintegration into local communities difficult. The governments offer little assistance and social services to trafficked victims upon their return. As the victims are also pushed into drug trafficking, many of them face criminal sanctions.

The Yogyakarta Principles, document on international human rights law on sexual orientation and gender identity also affirm that “States shall (c) establish legal, educational and social measures, service and programs to address factors that increase vulnerability to trafficking, sale and all forms of exploitation, including but not limited to sexual exploitation, on the grounds of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, including such factors as social exclusion, discrimination, rejection by families or cultural communities, lack of financial independence, homelessness, discriminatory social attitudes leading to low self-esteem, and lack of protection from discrimination in access to housing accommodation, employment and social services.[34]

National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. It is operated by Polaris Project, a non-government organization working to combat human trafficking. Callers can report tips and receive information on human trafficking by calling the hotline at 1.888.3737.888.

The hotline provides data on where cases of suspected human trafficking are occurring within the United States. A national map of calls is updated daily to reflect the sources of calls to the hotline.

Global extent

Findings of the legislative framework in place in different countries to prevent/reduce human trafficking. The findings are from the 2010 Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report[35]

Findings of the legislative framework in place in different countries to prevent/reduce human trafficking. The findings are from the 2011 Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report[36]

Trafficking in Persons Report Tier Placementsa
Country Location 2010[35] 2011[36] Main article
Afghanistan Central Asia 2w 2w Human trafficking in Afghanistan
Albania Southeast Europe 2 2 Human trafficking in Albania
Algeria Northeast Africa 2w 3 Human trafficking in Algeria
Angola Central Africa 2 2w Human trafficking in Angola
Antigua and Barbuda Caribbean Sea 2 2 Human trafficking in Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina South America 2 2 Human trafficking in Argentina
Armenia Eurasia 2 2 Human trafficking in Armenia
Aruba Caribbean Sea - 2
Australia Oceana 1 1 Human trafficking in Australia
Austria Central Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Austria
Azerbaijan Eurasia 2w 2w Human trafficking in Azerbaijan
Bahamas Atlantic Ocean 2 2w Human trafficking in the Bahamas
Bahrain Middle East 2 2 Human trafficking in Bahrain
Bangladesh South Asia 2w 2w Human trafficking in Bangladesh
Barbados Lesser Antilles 2w 2w Human trafficking in Barbados
Belarus Eastern Europe 2 2 Human trafficking in Belarus
Belgium Western Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Belgium
Belize Central America 2w 2 Human trafficking in Belize
Benin West Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Benin
Bolivia South America 2 2 Human trafficking in Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina Central Europe
Southeast Europe
1 1 Human trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Botswana Southern Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Botswana
Brazil South America 2 2 Human trafficking in Brazil
Brunei Southeast Asia 2w 2w Human trafficking in Brunei
Bulgaria Eastern Europe 2 2 Human trafficking in Bulgaria
Burkina Faso Western Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Burkina Faso
Burma Southeast Asia 3 3 Human trafficking in Burma
Burundi Eastern Africa 2 2w Human trafficking in Burundi
Cambodia Southeast Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in Cambodia
Cameroon Western Africa 2w 2w Human trafficking in Cameroon
Canada North America 1 1 Human trafficking in Canada
Central African Republic Central Africa 2w 3 Human trafficking in the Central African Republic
Chad Central Africa 2w 2w Human trafficking in Chad
Chile South America 2 2 Human trafficking in Chile
China East Asia 2w 2w
Colombia South America 1 1 Human trafficking in Colombia
Comoros Indian Ocean - 2w
Congo, Democratic Republic of the Central Africa 3 3 Human trafficking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Congo, Republic of the Central Africa 2w 2w Human trafficking in the Republic of the Congo
Costa Rica Central America 2 2w Human trafficking in Costa Rica
Côte d’Ivoire West Africa 2w - Human trafficking in Côte d’Ivoire
Croatia Central Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Croatia
Cuba Caribbean Sea 3 3 Human trafficking in Cuba
Curaçao Caribbean Sea - 2w
Cyprus Eastern Mediterranean 2 2w Human trafficking in Cyprus
Czech Republic Central Europe 1 2 Human trafficking in the Czech Republic
Denmark Northern Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Denmark
Djibouti Horn of Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Djibouti
Dominican Republic Hispaniola 3 3 Human trafficking in the Dominican Republic
East Timor
Southeast Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in East Timor
Ecuador South America 2 2w Human trafficking in Ecuador
Egypt North Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Egypt
El Salvador Central America 2 2 Human trafficking in El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea Middle Africa 2w 3 Human trafficking in Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea Horn of Africa 3 3 Human trafficking in Eritrea
Estonia Northern Europe 2 2w
Ethiopia Horn of Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Ethiopia
Fiji Melanesia 2w 2 Human trafficking in Fiji
Finland Northern Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Finland
France Western Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in France
Gabon Central Africa 2w 2 Human trafficking in Gabon
Gambia West Africa 2 2w Human trafficking in the Gambia
Georgia Eurasia 1 1 Human trafficking in Georgia
Germany Western Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Germany
Ghana West Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Ghana
Greece Southeast Europe 2 2 Human trafficking in Greece
Guatemala Central America 2w 2 Human trafficking in Guatemala
Guinea West Africa 2w 2w Human trafficking in Guinea
Guinea-Bissau West Africa 2w 3 Human trafficking in Guinea-Bissau
Guyana South America 2w 2 Human trafficking in Guyana
Honduras Central America 2 2 Human trafficking in Honduras
Hong Kong Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in Hong Kong
Hungary Central Europe 2 2 Human trafficking in Hungary
Iceland North Atlantic 2 2 Human trafficking in Iceland
India South Asia 2w 2 Human trafficking in India
See Child trafficking in India
Indonesia Southeast Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in Indonesia
Iran Central Asia
Western Asia
3 3 Human trafficking in Iran
Iraq Western Asia 2w 2w Human trafficking in Iraq
Ireland Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Ireland
Israel Western Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in Israel
Italy Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Italy
Jamaica Greater Antilles 2 2 Human trafficking in Jamaica
Iraq Western Asia 2w 2w Human trafficking in Iraq
Japan North Atlantic 1 1 Human trafficking in Japan
Jordan Western Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in Jordan
Kazakhstan Eastern Europe
Central Asia
2w 2 Human trafficking in Kazakhstan
Kenya East Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Kenya
Kiribati Pacific Ocean 2w 2w Human trafficking in Kiribati
Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Eastern Asia 3 3
Korea, Republic of Eastern Asia 1 1 Human trafficking in South Korea
Kosovo Southeast Europe 2 2
Kuwait Western Asia 3 3 Human trafficking in Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan Central Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in Kyrgyzstan
Laos Southeast Asia 2w 2 Human trafficking in Laos
Latvia Northern Europe 2 2 Human trafficking in Latvia
Lebanon Western Asia 2w 3 Human trafficking in Lebanon
Lesotho Southern Africa 2w 2 Human trafficking in Lesotho
Liberia Southeast Asia 2 2w Human trafficking in Liberia
Libya Northern Africa 2w 3 Human trafficking in Libya
Lithuania Northern Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Lithuania
Luxembourg Western Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Luxembourg
Macau Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in Macau
Macedonia Southeast Europe 2 1 Human trafficking in Macedonia
Madagascar Indian Ocean 2w 3 Human trafficking in Madagascar
Malawi Southeast Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Malawi
Malaysia Southeast Asia 2w 2w See Human trafficking in Malaysia
Maldives Indian Ocean 2w 2w
Mali Western Africa 2w 2w Human trafficking in Mali
Malta Mediterranean Sea 2w 2w Human trafficking in Malta
Marshall Islands Pacific ocean - 2
Mauritania West Africa 3 3 Human trafficking in Mauritania
Mauritas Indian Ocean 1 1 Human trafficking in Mauritius
Mexico North America 2 2 Human trafficking in Mexico
Micronesia Oceana 2w 3
Moldova Eastern Europe 2w 2 Human trafficking in Moldova
Mongolia East Asia
Central Asia
2 2 Human trafficking in Mongolia
Montenegro Southeast Europe 2 2 Human trafficking in Montenegro
Morocco North Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Morocco
Mozambique Southeast Africa 2w 2 Human trafficking in Mozambique
Namibia Southern Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Namibia
Nepal South Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in Nepal
Netherlands Western Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in the Netherlands
New Zealand Oceana 1 1 Human trafficking in New Zealand
Nicaragua Central America 2w 2 Human trafficking in Nicaragua
Niger Western Africa 2w 2w Human trafficking in Niger
Nigeria Western Africa 1 1 Human trafficking in Nigeria
Norway Northern Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Norway
Oman Southwest Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in Oman
Pakistan South Asia 2 2 Human trafficking in Pakistan
Palau Pacific Ocean 2 2 Human trafficking in Palau
Panama Central America 2w 2w Human trafficking in Panama
Papua New Guinea Oceana 3 3 Human trafficking in Papua New Guinea
Paraguay South America 2 2 Human trafficking in Paraguay
Peru South America 2 2 Human trafficking in Peru
Philippines Southeast Asia 2w 2 Human trafficking in the Philippines
Poland Central Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Poland
Portugal Western Europe 2 1 Human trafficking in Portugal
Qatar Middle East 2w 2w Human trafficking in Qatar
Romania Central Europe 2 2 Human trafficking in Romania
Russia Northern Eurasia 2w 2w Human trafficking in Russia
Rwanda Eastern Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Rwanda
Saint Lucia Lesser Antilles - 2
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Windward Islands 2w 2w Human trafficking in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saudi Arabia Middle East 3 3 Human trafficking in Saudi Arabia
Senegal Western Africa 2w 2 Human trafficking in Senegal
Serbia Central Europe
Southeast Europe
2 2 Human trafficking in Serbia
Seychelles Indian Ocean - 2
Sierra Leone West Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Sierra Leone
Singapore Southeast Asia 2w 2 Human trafficking in Singapore
Slovakia Central Europe 2 1 Human trafficking in Slovakia
Slovenia Central Europe
Southeast Europe
1 1 Human trafficking in Slovenia
Soloman Islands Oceana 2w 2w
South Africa Southern Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in South Africa
Spain Western Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Spain
Sri Lanka South Asia 2w 2 Human trafficking in Sri Lanka
Sudan North Africa 3 3 Human trafficking in Sudan
Suriname South America 2 2 Human trafficking in Suriname
Swaziland Southern Africa 2w 2 Human trafficking in Swaziland
Sweden Northern Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in Sweden
Switzerland Western Europe 2 2 Human trafficking in Switzerland
Syria Western Asia 2w 2w Human trafficking in Syria
Taiwan Asia 1 1 Human trafficking in Taiwan
Tajikistan Central Asia 2w 2 Human trafficking in Tajikistan
Tanzania East Africa 2w 2w Human trafficking in Tanzania
Thailand Southeast Asia 2w 2w Human trafficking in Thailand
Togo West Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Togo
Tonga South Pacific - 2
Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean Sea 2w 2 Human trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia Northern Africa 2w 2w Human trafficking in Tunisia
Turkey Western Asia
Eastern Europe
2 2 Human trafficking in Turkey
Turkmenistan Central Asia
Eastern Europe
2w 3 Human trafficking in Turkmenistan
Uganda East Africa
Eastern Europe
2 2 Human trafficking in Uganda
Ukraine Eastern Europe 2 2 Human trafficking in Ukraine
United Arab Emirates Southwest Asia
Eastern Europe
2 2 Human trafficking in the United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom Western Europe 1 1 Human trafficking in the United Kingdom
United States North America 1 1 Human trafficking in the United States
Uruguay South America 2 2 Human trafficking in Uruguay
Uzbekistan South America 2w 2w Human trafficking in Uzbekistan
Venezuela South America 2w 3 Human trafficking in Venezuela
Vietnam Southeast Asia 2w 2w Human trafficking in Vietnam
Yemen Middle East 2w 3 Human trafficking in Yemen
Zambia Southern Africa 2 2 Human trafficking in Zambia
Zimbabwe Southern Africa 2w 2w Human trafficking in Zimbabwe
^a Tier designations[36]:

  • TIER 1: Countries whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards.
  • TIER 2: Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
  • TIER 2 WATCH LIST: Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards AND:
a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing;
b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or
c) The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.
  • TIER 3: Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

Intergovernmental organizations and public international law

United Nations

In 2000 the United Nations adopted the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, also called the Palermo Convention, and two Palermo protocols there to:

All of these instruments contain elements of the current international law on trafficking in humans.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has assisted many non-governmental organizations in their fight against human trafficking. The 2006 armed conflict in Lebanon, which saw 300,000 domestic workers from Sri LankaEthiopia and the Philippines jobless and targets of traffickers, led to an emergency information campaign with NGO Caritas Migrant to raise human-trafficking awareness. Additionally, an April 2006 report, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns, helped to identify 127 countries of origin, 98 transit countries and 137 destination countries for human trafficking. To date, it is the second most frequently downloaded UNODC report. Continuing into 2007, UNODC supported initiatives like the Community Vigilance project along the border between India and Nepal, as well as provided subsidy for NGO trafficking prevention campaigns in BosniaCroatia, andHerzegovina.[37] Public service announcements have also proved useful for organizations combating human trafficking. In addition to many other endeavors, UNODC works to broadcast these announcements on local television and radio stations across the world. By providing regular access to information regarding human-trafficking, individuals are educated how to protect themselves and their families from being exploited.

The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) was conceived to promote the global fight on human trafficking, on the basis of international agreements reached at the UN. UN.GIFT was launched in March 2007 by UNODC with a grant made on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. It is managed in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Within UN.GIFT, UNODC launched a research exercise to gather primary data on national responses to trafficking in persons worldwide. This exercise resulted in the publication of the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons in February 2009. The report gathers official information for 155 countries and territories in the areas of legal and institutional framework, criminal justice response and victim assistance services.[37] UN.GIFT works with all stakeholders — governments, business, academia, civil society and the media — to support each other’s work, create new partnerships, and develop effective tools to fight human trafficking.

The Global Initiative is based on a simple principle: human trafficking is a crime of such magnitude and atrocity that it cannot be dealt with successfully by any government alone. This global problem requires a global, multi-stakeholder strategy that builds on national efforts throughout the world.

To pave the way for this strategy, stakeholders must coordinate efforts already underway, increase knowledge and awareness, provide technical assistance, promote effective rights-based responses, build capacity of state and non-state stakeholders, foster partnerships for joint action, and above all, ensure that everybody takes responsibility for this fight.

By encouraging and facilitating cooperation and coordination, UN.GIFT aims to create synergies among the anti-trafficking activities of UN agencies, international organizations and other stakeholders to develop the most efficient and cost-effective tools and good practices.

UN.GIFT aims to mobilize state and non-state actors to eradicate human trafficking by reducing both the vulnerability of potential victims and the demand for exploitation in all its forms, ensuring adequate protection and support to those who fall victim, and supporting the efficient prosecution of the criminals involved, while respecting the fundamental human rights of all persons.

In carrying out its mission, UN.GIFT will increase the knowledge and awareness on human trafficking, promote effective rights-based responses, build capacity of state and non-state actors, and foster partnerships for joint action against human trafficking.

For more information view the UN.GIFT Progress Report 2009.[38][39]

Further UNODC efforts to motivate action launched the Blue Heart Campaign Against Human Trafficking on March 6, 2009,[40] which Mexico launched its own national version of in April 2010.[41][42] The campaign encourages people to show solidarity with human trafficking victims by wearing the blue heart, similar to how wearing the red ribbon promotes transnational HIV/AIDS awareness.[43] On November 4, 2010, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons to provide humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of human trafficking with the aim of increasing the number of those rescued and supported, and broadening the extent of assistance they receive.[44]

Council of Europe

On 3 May 2005, the Committee of Ministers adopted the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings(CETS No. 197).[45] The Convention was opened for signature in Warsaw on 16 May 2005 on the occasion of the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe. On 24 October 2007, the Convention received its tenth ratification thereby triggering the process whereby it entered into force on 1 February 2008. The Convention now counts 34 ratifications by Council of Europe member states, with an additional nine member states having signed but not yet ratified.

While other international instruments already exist in this field, the Council of Europe Convention, the first European treaty in this field, is a comprehensive treaty focussing mainly on the protection of victims of trafficking and the safeguard of their rights. It also aims to prevent trafficking and to prosecute traffickers. In addition, the Convention provides for the setting up of an effective and independent monitoring mechanism capable of controlling the implementation of the obligations contained in the Convention.

The Convention is not restricted to Council of Europe members states; non-members states and the European Union also have the possibility of becoming Party to the Convention.

The Convention established a Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) which monitors the implementation of the Convention through country reports. As of 1 March 2012, GRETA has published nine country reports.[46]

Complementary protection is ensured through the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote, 25 October 2007).

In addition, the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg has passed judgments concerning trafficking in human beings which violated obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights: Siliadin v. France,[47] judgment of 26 July 2005, and Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia,[48] judgment of 7 January 2010.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

In 2003 the OSCE established an anti-trafficking mechanism aimed at raising public awareness of the problem and building the political will within participating States to tackle it effectively.

The OSCE actions against human trafficking are coordinated by the Office of the Special Representative for Combating the Traffic of Human Beings.[49] In January 2010, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro became the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. Dr. Giammarinaro (Italy) has been a judge at the Criminal Court of Rome since 1991. She served from 2006 until 2009 in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security in Brussels, where she was responsible for work to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, as well as for penal aspects of illegal immigration within the unit dealing with the fight against organized crime. During this time, she co-ordinated the Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings of the European Commission. From 2001 to 2006 she was a judge for preliminary investigation in the Criminal Court of Rome. Prior to that, from 1996 she was Head of the Legislative Office and Adviser to the Minister for Equal Opportunities. From 2006 to December 2009 the office was headed by Eva Biaudet, a former Member of Parliament and Minister of Health and Social Services in her native Finland.

The activities of the Office of the Special Representative range from training law enforcement agencies to tackle human trafficking to promoting policies aimed at rooting out corruption and organised crime. The Special Representative also visits countries and can, on their request, support the formation and implementation of their anti-trafficking policies. In other cases the Special Representative provides advice regarding implementation of the decisions on human trafficking, and assists governments, ministers and officials to achieve their stated goals of tackling human trafficking.

Other government actions

Actions taken to combat human trafficking vary from government to government.[50] Some have introduced legislation specifically aimed at making human trafficking illegal. Governments can also develop systems of co-operation between different nations’ law enforcement agencies and with non-government organizations (NGOs). Many countries have come under criticism for inaction, or ineffective action. Criticisms include the failure of governments to properly identify and protect trafficking victims, immigration policies which potentially re-victimize trafficking victims, or insufficient action in helping prevent vulnerable people from becoming trafficking victims.

A particular criticism has been the reluctance of some countries to tackle trafficking for purposes other than sex.

Another action governments can take is raising awareness of this issue. This can take three forms. First, in raising awareness amongst potential victims, particularly in countries where human traffickers are active. Second, raising awareness amongst police, social welfare workers and immigration officers to equip them to deal appropriately with the problem. And finally, in countries where prostitution is legal or semi-legal, raising awareness amongst the clients of prostitution to watch for signs of human trafficking victims.

Raising awareness can take on different forms. One method is through the use of awareness films[51] or through posters.[52]

During the time racism was a major issue in the U.S., Congress feared White slavery. The result of this fear was the White Slave Traffic Act of 1910, which criminalized interracial marriage and banned single women from crossing state borders for morally wrong acts. In 1914, of the women arrested for crossing state borders under this act, 70% were charged with voluntary prostitution. Once the idea of a sex slave shifted from a White woman to an enslaved woman from countries in poverty, the U.S. began passing immigration acts to curtail aliens from entering the country among other reasons. Several acts such as the Temporary Quota Act of 1921 and Immigration Act of 1924 were passed to prevent emigrants from Europe and Asia from entering the United States. Following the banning of immigrants during the 1920s, human trafficking was not seen as a major issue until the 1990s. However, during 1949, the first international statute that dealt with sex slavery was the 1949 UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and Exploitation of Prostitution of Others.[3] This convention followed the abolitionist idea of sex trafficking as incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person. Serving as a model for future legislation, the 1949 UN Convention was not ratified by every country.

Before America’s recent efforts to take on a major role in the anti-trafficking movement, the U.N. was the main regulator in solving the global issue of human trafficking. Under the Bush Administration, fighting sex slavery worldwide and domestically became a priority with an average of $100 million spent per year, which substantially outnumbers the amount spent by other countries. Before President Bush took office, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). The TVPA strengthened services to victims of violence, law enforcements ability to reduce violence against women and children, and education against human trafficking. Also specified in the TVPA was a mandate to collect funds for the treatment of sex trafficking victims that provided shelter, food, education, and financial grants. Internationally, the TVPA set standards that governments of other countries must follow in order to receive aid from the U.S. to fight human trafficking. Once George W. Bush took office in 2000, restricting sex trafficking became one of his primary humanitarian efforts. Attorney General under President Bush, John Ashcroft, heavily enforced the TVPA. Today the State Department publishes the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which examines the progress that the U.S. and other countries have made in destroying human trafficking businesses, arresting the kingpins, and rescuing the victims.

The PROTECT Act of 2003, passed in April 2003, was a part of the government effort to further increase the punishment of child exploitation. The 18 U.S.C. § 1591, or the “Commercial Sex Act” makes it illegal to recruit, entice, obtain, provide, move or harbor a person or to benefit from such activities knowing that the person will be caused to engage in commercial sex acts where the person is under 18 or where force, fraud or coercion exists.[53][54]

The Anti-trafficking Policy Index

The ’3P Anti-trafficking Policy Index’ measures the effectiveness of government policies to fight human trafficking based on an evaluation of policy requirements prescribed by the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2000).

The policy level is evaluated using a five-point scale, where a score of five indicates the best policy practice, while score 1 is the worst. This scale is used to analyze the main three anti-trafficking policy areas: (i) prosecuting (criminalizing) traffickers, (ii) protecting victims, and (iii) preventing the crime of human trafficking. Each sub-index of prosecution, protection and prevention is aggregated to the overall index with an unweighted sum, with the overall index ranging from a score of 3 (worst) to 15 (best). It is available for up to 177 countries over the 2000-2009 period (on an annual basis).

The outcome of the Index shows that anti-trafficking policy has overall improved over the 2000-2009 period. Improvement is most prevalent in the prosecution and prevention areas worldwide. An exception is protection policy, which shows a modest deterioration in recent years.

In 2009 (the most recent year of the evaluation), seven countries demonstrate the highest possible performance in policies for all three dimensions (overall score 15). These countries are Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Sweden and the US. The second best performing group (overall score 14) consists of France, Norway, South Korea, Croatia, Canada, Austria, Slovenia and Nigeria. The worst performing country in 2009 was North Korea, receiving the lowest score in all dimensions (overall score 3), followed by Somalia. For more information view the Human Trafficking Research and Measurement website.[55]

International legislation

History of international legislation

International pressure to address trafficking in women and children became a growing part of the social Reform movement in the United States and Europe during the late 19th century. International legislation against the trafficking of women and children began with the ratification of an international convention in 1901, followed by ratification of a second convention in 1904. These conventions were ratified by 34 countries. The first formal international research into the scope of the problem was funded by American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, through the American Bureau of Social Hygiene. In 1923, a committee from the bureau was tasked with investigating trafficking in 28 countries, interviewing approximately 5,000 informants and analyzing information over two years before issuing its final report. This was the first formal report on trafficking in women and children to be issued by an official body.[56]

The League of Nations, formed in 1919, took over as the international coordinator of legislation intended to end the trafficking of women and children. An international Conference on White Slave Traffic was held in 1921, attended by the 34 countries that ratified the 1901 and 1904 conventions.[57] Another convention against trafficking was ratified by League members in 1922, and like the 1904 international convention, this one required ratifying countries to submit annual reports on their progress in tackling the problem. Compliance with this requirement was not complete, although it gradually improved: in 1924, approximately 34% of the member countries submitted reports as required, which rose to 46% in 1929, 52% in 1933, and 61% in 1934.[58]

Current international laws


Both the human trafficking discourse and the actions undertaken by the anti-human traffickers have been criticized by some scholars.[59][60] and journalists[61] The criticism touches upon three main themes: 1) statistics and data on human trafficking; 2) the concept itself; 3) the anti-trafficking measures.

Problems with statistics and data

Numerous NGOs and governmental agencies produce estimates and specific statistics on the numbers of potential and actual victims of trafficking.[62] According to the critics, these figures rarely have identifiable sources or transparent methodologies behind them and in most (if not all) instances, they are mere guesses.[63][64] Scholars argue that this is a result of the fact that it is impossible to produce any meaningful statistics on a reportedly illegal and covert phenomenon happening in the shadow economy.[59][65][66]

Problems with the concept

According to some scholars, the very concept of human trafficking is murky and misleading.[59] It has been argued that while human trafficking is commonly seen as a monolithic crime, in reality it is an act of illegal migration that involves various different actions: some of them may be criminal or abusive, but others often involve consent and are legal.[59]Laura Agustin argues that not everything that might seem abusive or coercive is considered as such by the migrant. For instance, she states that: ‘would-be travellers commonly seek help from intermediaries who sell information, services and documents. When travellers cannot afford to buy these outright, they go into debt’.[65] One scholar says that while these debts might indeed be on very harsh conditions, they are usually incurred on a voluntary basis.[59]

The critics of the current approaches to trafficking say that a lot of the violence and exploitation faced by illegal migrants derives precisely from the fact that their migration and their work are illegal and not primarily because of some evil trafficking networks.[67] Tara McCormack believes that the whole trafficking discourse can be actually detrimental to the interests of migrants as it denies them agency and as it depoliticizes debates on migration.[68]

Problems with anti-trafficking measures

Groups like Amnesty International have been critical of insufficient or ineffective government measures to tackle human trafficking. Criticism includes a lack of understanding of human trafficking issues, poor identification of victims and a lack of resources for the key pillars of anti-trafficking – identification, protection, prosecution and prevention. For example, Amnesty International has called the UK government’s new anti-trafficking measures as ‘not fit for purpose’.[69]

Laura Agustin has suggested that in some cases ‘anti-traffickers’ ascribe victim status to immigrants who have made conscious and rational decisions to cross the borders knowing they will be selling sex and who do not consider themselves to be victims.[70] There have been instances in which the alleged victims of trafficking have actually refused to be rescued[71] or run away from the anti-trafficking shelters.[72]


The DNA Foundation was created by celebrity humanitarians Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher in their efforts to fight human trafficking (specifically focusing on sex trafficking of children) in the U.S. In September 2010, the pair announced the launch of their “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign to combat child sex trafficking alongside other Hollywood stars and technology companies like MicrosoftTwitter, and Facebook. “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” is based on the idea that high-profile men speaking out against child sex trafficking can help reduce the demand for young girls in the commercial sex trade. A press conference was held on September 23 at the Clinton Global Initiative.[73] In 1994 Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women was established to combat trafficking in women in any grounds.

In popular culture

  • The 2010 film “The Whistle Blower” by Larysa Kondracki portrays proven and recorded real life events which occurred in Bosnia and Herzigovina to an American police officer(Kathryn Bolkovac) from Nebraska(USA) while working as a United Nations Peace keeper contracted by Democra corp,a pseudonym for a present American military contracting company DynCorp[74] which was then made into a movie,Dyncorp has also been accused of rapes,murders and underage child sex trafficking in Latin America and countries like Bosnia,Afghanistan,Iraq,Kuwait and Ukraine..
  • The 2008 documentary and concert film Call + Response combines contemporary musician performances with an investigative report on worldwide human trafficking including hidden camera footage from Thailand brothels
  • Ghosts, a documentary by independent film maker Nick Broomfield, follows the story of the victims of the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster, in which smuggled immigrants are forced in to hard labour.
  • The 2007 film The Sugar Babies by Amy Serrano is a documentary that highlights the plight of Haitian victims of human trafficking in the Dominican Republic.
  • The 2008 film Taken by Pierre Morel, starring Liam Neeson, in which the main character’s daughter and her friend are taken by traffickers in Paris.[75]
  • The 2007 film Trade deals with human trafficking out of Mexico and a brother’s attempt to rescue his kidnapped and trafficked young sister. It is based on Peter Landesman’s article about sex slaves, which was featured as the cover story in the January 24, 2004 issue of New York Times Magazine.
  • The 2009 novel, The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  • Grammy-winning pop star, Lady Gaga, portrayed human trafficking in the music video for her multi-platinum selling single Bad Romance.The video takes place in a whitebathhouse where Gaga is kidnapped by a group of supermodels who drug her, put her on display, and then sell her off to the Russian Mafia for sexual slavery
  • The CSI: NY episode, “She’s Not There“, showcases the horrors of human trafficking when a Russian tourist is murdered and a girl went missing.
  • Everyone wants to be with Marilyn, is a prime-time soap opera produced by RCN Televisión, in a partnership with UNODC Colombia, which informs millions of viewers about human-trafficking within the context of sexual exploitation.[76]
  • Human Trafficking (2005) (TV) by Christian Duguay stars Mira Sorvino, Donald Sutherland, and Robert Carlyle.
  • In the Criminal Minds episode, Supply and Demand, there exists a human trafficking ring that abducts stressed out college students.

See also


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  14. a b “Human Trafficking”. Racine Dominicans. 2005-05-11. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
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  55. ^ “”. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  56. ^ Berkovitch, Nitzka (1999). From Motherhood to Citizenship: Women’s Rights and International Organizations. JHU Press. pp. 75–6. ISBN 9780801860287.
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  59. a b c d e Dumienski, Zbigniew, 2011, ‘Critical Reflections on Anti-human Trafficking: The Case of Timor-Leste’, NTS Alert, May, Issue 2, Singapore: RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies for NTS-Asia.
  60. ^ See: both blog and the book “Sex at the Margins” by Laura Agustin.
  61. ^ For example: Nathalie Rothschild, More evidence that trafficking is a myth, 27 April 2009,
  62. ^ See for example: US Department of State, 2010, Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2010.
  63. ^ Bialik, Carl, 2010, ‘Suspect Estimates of Sex Trafficking at the World Cup’, The Wall Street Journal, 19 June.
  64. ^ see also: US Government Accountability Office, 2006, Human Trafficking: Better Data, Strategy and Reporting Needed to Enhance U.S. Antitrafficking Efforts Abroad, Highlights of GAO-06-825 Report, Washington, DC.
  65. a b Agustin, Laura, 2008, Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry, London and New York: Zed Books.
  66. ^ Rothschild, Nathalie, 2009b, ‘“Rescue”: A New PC Term for Repatriation’, spiked, 26 October.
  67. ^ See for example: Ilkkaracan, Pinar and Leyla Gulcur, 2002, ‘The “Natasha” Experience: Migrant Sex Workers from the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in Turkey’, Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 411–21.
  68. ^ “The new slave trade? | Tara McCormack | spiked”. 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  69. ^ Anti-trafficking measures ‘not fit for purpose’ and breach international law – new report, ‘[1]
  70. ^ Kerry Howley (2007-12-26). “The Myth of the Migrant – Reason Magazine”. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  71. ^ ‘Chinese Prostitutes Resist Efforts to Rescue Them from Africa’, 2011, Times LIVE, 1 January.
  72. ^ Siddharth, Kumar, 2010, ‘Sex Workers Don’t Want Rescue’, Mid Day, 23 October.
  73. ^ Amanda Kloer , Demi and Ashton Launch “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” with Snoop Dogg, Others (September 24, 2010),
  74. ^ Kathryn Bolkovac
  75. ^ Taken at the Internet Movie Database
  76. ^ UNODC (2005). “Colombian soap opera raises awareness about human trafficking”

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