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Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is the second largest industry worldwide and the fastest growing, generating annual profits of $32 billion.

 

The UN and human rights groups estimate that between 12.3 million and 27 million people are trafficked each year. The income of global prostitution industry goes directly into the pockets of pimps, human traffickers and brothel owners and maybe indirectly benefit tour operators, airlines, hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers, bar managers and advertisers.




  1. What is Human Trafficking?
  2. Trafficking vs. Smuggling
  3. Trafficking and Prostitution
  4. Harms of Prostitution
  5. Economic Globalization
  6. Sex Tourism
  7. Pornography


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1. What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a form of gender-based “slavery” that mainly affects women and girls who are already vulnerable to exploitation. The majority of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation. Women are recruited, transported, sold and controlled, either within national or across international borders, and then forced to sell their bodies for an enormous amount of profit for others. They are controlled through threats, force, deception, coercion and other abuses of power.

Trafficking is a process, not a single act. Once a woman is under a trafficker’s control she is often moved to an unfamiliar place where she is forced to sell her body to dozens of men each day. There are many factors that keep women from seeking help including fear, shame, lack of local language skills, discrimination and control by their trafficker.

Sometimes "recruitment" means preying upon unknowing women but it also includes manipulating vulnerable women and children into believing that they are "choosing" such a life. Women and girls are often manipulated through grooming or conditioning by someone posing as a “boyfriend” who ultimately ends up pimping them and controlling them through isolation, degradation and physical torture, mixed in with occasional indulgences. Survivors of trafficking sometimes do not realize how they were actually manipulated into the industry until they have the opportunity to understand the dynamics of sexual exploitation and fully understand grooming techniques as a form of trafficking. In the meantime, many simply blame themselves for their "mistake" and maintain personal responsibility.




2. Trafficking vs. Smuggling

Trafficking is not the same as people smuggling. While a migrant smuggler facilitates clandestine entry into a country, the relationship ends upon reaching the destination. A person who is trafficked is under the ongoing control of the trafficking network and is forced to work through controls such as threats and debt bondage. Both smugglers and traffickers prey upon vulnerability caused by issues like poverty, violence and abuse.




3. Trafficking and Prostitution

Here is a vicious link between the local sex industry and global sex trafficking. Prostitution and trafficking in women requires a demand among men for women and children, mainly girls. If men did not regard it as their self-evident right to purchase and sexually exploit women and children, prostitution and trafficking would not exist. International trafficking in human beings could not flourish but for the existence of local prostitution markets where men are willing and able to buy and sell women and children for sexual exploitation. Any country with a robust sex industry experiences a dramatic increase in human trafficking. The majority of women who are trafficked come from minority groups, a life of poverty or backgrounds of sexual violence, making them more likely to be exploited.

 

View "The Links Between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: A Briefing Handbook" by Janice G. Raymond (view/download pdf file)




4. Harms of Prostitution

Prostitution is systemic violence against women and is inherently harmful. The average age a woman (girl) is recruited into prostitution is fourteen, most often by someone who will profit in some way from the sale of her body. Women who have been prostituted display the same level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as those just returning from active duty in a war situation. Women in the sex industry regularly suffer rape, beatings, verbal abuse, and degradation as a routine reality of being prostituted. Whether prostitution occurs indoors or on the street, in a country where it is legal or criminalized, women are victimized by violence.

 

View article "Bad for the Body, Bad for the Heart: Prostitution Harms Women Even if Legalized or Decriminalized", by Melissa Farley. (view/download pdf file)




5. Economic Globalization

Trafficking occurs in a context of global economic inequalities and a failure to respect the human rights of a majority of the world’s population. Enormous amounts of people find themselves unable to provide for their families and are forced into situations of extreme desperation. The impact of structural adjustment policies is worsening the feminization of poverty; women make up 70% of the worlds’ poor. Women are more vulnerable to exploitation as they are often supporting families, work in unregulated sectors of the economy, have little or no access to education, employment and options for migration. They are often seeking to migrate due to war and internal conflict, poverty, statelessness and domestic violence, but face strict immigration policies and are unable to migrate legally. Often their vulnerability is exploited and they fall into the hands of traffickers.

At the same time the Internet has provided opportunities for organized crime to flourish, and the sex industry to be increased through the proliferation of pornography and sex tourism. The result is globalized prostitution.




6. Sex Tourism

While women are often trafficked from developing countries to “destination” countries in the global north, many are also trafficked within their own borders for the booming business of sex tourism. Privileged men pay money to travel to poor countries on tours (or alone) to buy women - most often those with darker skin, less money and fewer opportunities than themselves – creating an eroticized situation based on power imbalances. Entire sectors of the economy in developing countries are centred on increasing sex tourism whereby they offer up the most vulnerable in their culture to bring dollars or euros into the country.




7. Pornography

The pornography industry rakes in $97 billion per year and is a driving force behind sex trafficking. Porn coarsens and sexualizes our popular culture and - to put it mildly - stimulates the demand side of the commercial sex equation, with results that are often devastating to relationships, families, health and careers, and sometimes end in criminal assault and murder.

 

What was once called “soft-core” pornography is now part of the mainstream, and the porn industry is portraying increasingly violent acts of harm against women. Prostituted women report that they are often asked to perform degrading and painful sex acts the man has seen in pornography and which his wife or girlfriend refuses to perform. This demand for pornified sex fuels the trafficking in women. Brothel operators and pimps meet the porn-driven demand with a supply of vulnerable women who are seduced, tricked, drugged, kidnapped, abducted, or stolen from their families, and forced into prostitution.