Human trafficking is the world’s biggest money earner after drugs and small arms.
The US Government’s yearly report Trafficking in Persons (TIP) estimates that in 2012, 32 billion US Dollars were made out of the innocent blood of 800,000 humans who were trafficked within or across international boundaries – half of whom were children. An estimated 12.3 million adults and children are currently held in forms of modern day slavery, including forced labour and prostitution. Many more are trafficked within their own national boundaries for forced labour, bonded labour, sexual servitude, and involuntary servitude. It seems almost impossible to control this epidemic. The appalling living conditions are unimaginable. Driven by poverty human trafficking touches all levels of society manifesting the insatiable greed of unscrupulous people. It might never be stopped completely – this is not a reason not to do anything about it.
Two factors are crucial in defining human trafficking: movement and exploitation. There must be recruitment and therefore transportation. People are transferred, harboured, and money changes hands.
The Palermo Protocol (at article 3) provides a global definition: “Trafficking in persons shall mean 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 servitude or the removal of organs.” More than 185 countries have signed up to The Palermo Protocol, yet trafficking continues.
How people are trafficked
It happens without difficulty and sometimes we are too gullible and are sucked in without realizing and without questioning the offers received. We can all be blind. Once hooked, victims may be threatened and force may be used. All forms of coercion – including fraud, deception, abduction, abuse of power, abuse of authority, financial incentives – are easy methods of manipulation. At the initial stages, victims often co-operate.
Human trafficking has many faces. The exploitation of the prostitution of others is common, together with forced labour and services. Slavery or other practices akin to slavery are also rife. At the UN, it was also stated that often a woman is “not treated as a human person on an equal basis with others but as an object to be exploited.” Housemaids and houseboys are also very vulnerable to sexual abuse.
Children are more naturally trusting and therefore more vulnerable than adults, they provide cheap labour. This is why child labour and child trafficking are closely linked. Adults often move voluntarily but children do not migrate on their own. A child can never consent to be trafficked.
The supply and demand of women, men, and children is constant and costs are very low. A legal framework against human trafficking in general is lacking, and what little there is is weak. Many countries like South Africa and Mozambique have no legislation. In October 2010, Kenya adopted the “Trafficking in Persons Act” which brought together a number of important Acts including the Sexual Offences Act of 2006. In June 2012, it was evident that the Act had not been properly enacted so the process is starting over once again. Lobbying is requested, but there is little direction. We are working on how we can otherwise prevent and prosecute offenders. There is also a great deal of debate concerning whether prostitution should be legalized. The organizers and agencies of human trafficking are rarely targeted. They are hidden and powerful, with many international connections.
Many factors in human trafficking are common throughout the world but some factors are unique to Africa. Prostitution, sexual exploitation, and organ trafficking are common worldwide. Generally, when people are trafficked in Africa brute force is not used to exploit the trafficked person. Abuse occurs through threats, intimidation, separation from families and the local environment. In Africa, the removal of body parts is a common practice especially for witchcraft. Young girls are also raped as a cure against HIV/Aids or are forced to bear a child, which is then sold to the highest bidder. Some children are driven to the armed forces to become child soldiers; they are traumatised and marked for life. This list is in no way exhaustive.