Trafficking of children involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. The commercial sexual exploitation of children can take many forms, including forcing a child into prostitution or other forms of sexual activity or child pornography. Child exploitation may also involve 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).
IOM statistics indicate that a significant minority (35%) of trafficked persons it assisted in 2011 were less than 18 years of age, which is roughly consistent with estimates from previous years. It was reported in 2010 that Thailand and Brazil were considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records.
Traffickers in children may take advantage 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 into 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 from developing countries to the West. In David M. Smolin’s papers on child trafficking and adoption scandals between India and the United States, he presents the systemic vulnerabilities in the inter-country adoption system that makes adoption scandals predictable.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child at Article 34, states, “States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse”. In the European Union, commercial sexual exploitation of children is subject to a directive – Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (or Hague Adoption Convention) is an international convention dealing with international adoption, that aims at preventing child laundering, child trafficking, and other abuses related to international adoption.
The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict seeks to prevent forceful recruitment (e.g. by guerrilla forces) of children for use in armed conflicts.
Sex trafficking affects 4.5 million people worldwide. Most victims find themselves in coercive or abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous.
Trafficking for sexual exploitation was formerly thought of as 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 Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (US), does not require movement for the offence. The issue becomes contentious when the element of coercion is removed from the definition to incorporate facilitation of consensual involvement in prostitution. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Sexual Offences 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.” In addition, any minor involved in a commercial sex act in the US while under the age of 18 qualifies as a trafficking victim, even if no force, fraud or coercion is involved, under the definition of “Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons” in the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
Sexual trafficking includes coercing a migrant into a sexual act as a condition of allowing or arranging the migration. Sexual trafficking uses physical or sexual coercion, deception, abuse of power 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 sometimes taken to brothels where they are required to undertake sex work, while their passports and other identification papers 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.
Forced marriage Edit
Main article: Forced marriage
A forced marriage is a marriage where one or both participants are married without their freely given consent. Servile marriage is defined as a marriage involving a person being sold, transferred or inherited into that marriage. According to ECPAT, “Child trafficking for forced marriage is simply another manifestation of trafficking and is not restricted to particular nationalities or countries”.
A forced marriage qualifies as a form of human trafficking in certain situations. If a woman is sent abroad, forced into the marriage and then repeatedly compelled to engage in sexual conduct with her new husband, then her experience is that of sex trafficking. If the bride is treated as a domestic servant by her new husband and/or his family, then this is a form of labor trafficking.
Labour trafficking is the movement of persons for the purpose of forced labor and services. It may involve bonded labor, involuntary servitude, domestic servitude, and child labor. Labor trafficking happens most often within the domain of domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment; and migrant workers and indigenous people are especially at risk of becoming victims.
Trafficking for organ trade Edit
Trafficking in organs is a form of human trafficking. It can take different forms. In some cases, the victim is compelled into giving up an organ. In other cases, the victim agrees to sell an organ in exchange of money/goods, but is not paid (or paid less). Finally, the victim may have the organ removed without the victim’s knowledge (usually when the victim is treated for another medical problem/illness – real or orchestrated problem/illness). Migrant workers, homeless persons, and illiterate persons are particularly vulnerable to this form of exploitation. Trafficking of organs is an organized crime, involving several offenders:
the medical staff
Trafficking for organ trade often seeks kidneys. Trafficking in organs is a lucrative trade because in many countries the waiting lists for patients who need transplants are very long.
There are many different estimates of how large the human trafficking and sex trafficking industries are. According to scholar Kevin Bales, author of Disposable People (2004), estimates that as many as 27 million people are in “modern-day slavery” across the globe. In 2008, the U.S. Department of State estimates that 2 million children are exploited by the global commercial sex trade. In the same year, a study classified 12.3 million individuals worldwide as “forced laborers, bonded laborers or sex-trafficking victims.” Approximately 1.39 million of these individuals worked as commercial sex slaves, with women and girls comprising 98%, of the 1.36 million.
The enactment of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000 by the United States Congress and its subsequent re-authorizations established the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which engages with foreign governments to fight human trafficking and publishes a Trafficking in Persons Report annually. The Trafficking in Persons Report evaluates each country’s progress in anti-trafficking and places each country onto one of three tiers based on their governments’ efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking as prescribed by the TVPA. However, questions have been raised by critical anti-trafficking scholars about the basis of this tier system, its heavy focus on compliance with state department protocols, and its failure to consider “risk” and the likely prevalence of trafficking when rating the efforts of diverse countries.
In particular, there were three main components of the TVPA, commonly called the three P’s:
PROTECTION: The TVPA increased the US Government’s efforts to protect trafficked foreign national victims including, but not limited to: Victims of trafficking, many of whom were previously ineligible for government assistance, were provided assistance; and a non-immigrant status for victims of trafficking if they cooperated in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers (T-Visas, as well as providing other mechanisms to ensure the continued presence of victims to assist in such investigations and prosecutions).
PROSECUTION: The TVPA authorized the US Government to strengthen efforts to prosecute traffickers including, but not limited to: Creating a series of new crimes on trafficking, forced labor, and document servitude that supplemented existing limited crimes related to slavery and involuntary servitude; and recognizing that modern-day slavery takes place in the context of fraud and coercion, as well as force, and is based on new clear definitions for both trafficking into sexual exploitation and labor exploitation: Sex trafficking was defined as, “a commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age”. Labor trafficking was defined as, “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery”.
PREVENTION: The TVPA allowed for increased prevention measures including: Authorizing the US Government to assist foreign countries with their efforts to combat trafficking, as well as address trafficking within the United States, including through research and awareness-raising; and providing foreign countries with assistance in drafting laws to prosecute trafficking, creating programs for trafficking victims, and assistance with implementing effective means of investigation.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton later identified a fourth P, “partnership”, in 2009 to serve as a, “pathway to progress in the effort against modern-day slavery.”
A complex set of factors fuel sex trafficking, including poverty, unemployment, social norms that discriminate against women, commercial demand for sex, institutional challenges, and globalization.
Poverty and globalization Edit
Poverty and lack of educational and economic opportunities in one’s hometown may lead women to voluntarily migrate and then be involuntarily trafficked into sex work. As globalization opened up national borders to greater exchange of goods and capital, labor migration also increased. Less wealthy countries have fewer options for livable wages. The economic impact of globalization pushes people to make conscious decisions to migrate and be vulnerable to trafficking. Gender inequalities that hinder women from participating in the formal sector also push women into informal sectors.
Long waiting lists for organs in the United States and Europe created a thriving international black market. Traffickers harvest organs, particularly kidneys, to sell for large profit and often without properly caring for or compensating the victims. Victims often come from poor, rural communities and see few other options than to sell organs illegally. Wealthy countries’ inability to meet organ demand within their own borders perpetuates trafficking. By reforming their internal donation system, Iran achieved a surplus of legal donors and provides an instructive model for eliminating both organ trafficking and -shortage.
Globalization and the rise of Internet technology has also facilitated sex trafficking. Online classified sites and social networks such as Craigslist have been under intense scrutiny for being used by johns and traffickers in facilitating sex trafficking and sex work in general. Traffickers use explicit sites and underground sites (e.g. Craigslist, Backpage, MySpace) to market, recruit, sell, and exploit females. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites are suspected for similar uses. For example, Randal G. Jennings was convicted of sex trafficking five underage girls by forcing them to advertise on Craigslist and driving them to meet the customers. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, online classified ads reduce the risks of finding prospective customers. Studies have identified the Internet as the single biggest facilitator of commercial sex trade, although it is difficult to ascertain which women advertised are sex trafficking victims. Traffickers and pimps use the Internet to recruit minors, since Internet and social networking sites usage have significantly increased especially among children.
Organized criminals can generate up to several thousand dollars per day from one trafficked girl, and the Internet has further increased profitability of sex trafficking and child trafficking. With faster access to a wider clientele, more sexual encounters can be scheduled. Victims and clients, according to a New York City report on sex trafficking in minors, increasingly use the Internet to meet customers. Because of protests, Craigslist has since closed its adult services section. According to authorities, Backpage is now the main source for advertising trafficking victims. Investigators also frequently browse online classified ads to identify potential underage girls who are trafficked.
While globalization fostered new technologies that may exacerbate sex trafficking, technology can also be used to assist law enforcement and anti-trafficking efforts. A study was done on online classified ads surrounding the Super Bowl. A number of reports have noticed increase in sex trafficking during previous years of the Super Bowl. For the 2011 Super Bowl held in Dallas, Texas, the Backpage for Dallas area experienced a 136% increase on the number of posts in the Adult section on Super Bowl Sunday, where as Sundays typically have the lowest amount of posts. Researchers analyzed the most salient terms in these online ads, which suggested that many escorts were traveling across state lines to Dallas specifically for the Super Bowl, and found that the self-reported ages were higher than usual. Twitter was another social networking platform studied for detecting sex trafficking. Digital tools can be used to narrow the pool of sex trafficking cases, albeit imperfectly and with uncertainty.
However, there has been no evidence found actually linking the Super Bowl – or any other sporting event – to increased trafficking or prostitution.
Political and institutional challenges Edit
Corrupt and inadequately trained police officers can be complicit in sex trafficking and/or commit violence against sex workers, including sex trafficked victims.
Anti-trafficking agendas from different groups can also be in conflict. In the movement for sex workers rights, sex workers establish unions and organizations, which seek to eliminate trafficking themselves. However, law enforcement also seek to eliminate trafficking and to prosecute trafficking, and their work may infringe on sex workers’ rights and agency. For example, the sex workers union DMSC (Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee) in Kolkata, India, has “self-regulatory boards” (SRBs) that patrol the red light districts and assist girls who are underage or trafficked. The union opposes police intervention and interferes with police efforts to bring minor girls out of brothels, on the grounds that police action might have an adverse impact on non-trafficked sex workers, especially because police officers in many places are corrupt and violent in their operations. Critics argue that since sex trafficking is an economic and violent crime, it calls for law enforcement to intervene and prevent violence against victims.
Criminalization of sex work also may foster the underground market for sex work and enable sex trafficking.
Difficult political situations such as civil war and social conflict are push factors for migration and trafficking. A study reported that larger countries, the richest and the poorest countries, and countries with restricted press freedom are likely to engage in more sex trafficking. Specifically, being in a transitional economy made a country nineteen times more likely to be ranked in the highest trafficking category, and gender inequalities in a country’s labor market also correlated with higher trafficking rates.
An annual US State Department report in June 2013 cited Russia and China as among the worst offenders in combatting forced labour and sex trafficking, raising the possibility of US sanctions being leveraged against these countries. In 1997 alone as many as 175,000 young women from Russia, as well as the former Soviet Union, were sold as commodities in the sex markets of the developed countries in Europe and the Americas.
Abolitionists who seek an end to sex trafficking explain the nature of sex trafficking as an economic supply and demand model. In this model, male demand for prostitutes leads to a market of sex work, which, in turn, fosters sex trafficking, the illegal trade and coercion of people into sex work, and pimps and traffickers become ‘distributors’ who supply people to be sexually exploited. The demand for sex trafficking can also be facilitated by some pimps’ and traffickers’ desire for women whom they can exploit as workers because they do not require wages, safe working circumstances, and agency in choosing customers.
Sex trafficking victims face threats of violence from many sources, including customers, pimps, brothel owners, madams, traffickers, and corrupt local law enforcement officials. Raids as an anti-sex trafficking measure have to potential to help, and also to harm sex trafficked victims. Because of their potentially complicated legal status and their potential language barriers, the arrest or fear of arrest creates stress and other emotional trauma for trafficking victims. Victims may also experience physical violence from law enforcement during raids. The challenges facing victims often continue of course, after their experience of “rescue” or removal from coercive sexual exploitation. In addition to coping with their past traumatic experiences, former trafficking victims often experience social alienation in the host and home countries. Stigmatization, social exclusion, and intolerance often make it difficult for former victims to integrate into their host community, or to reintegrate into their former community. Accordingly, one of the central aims of protection assistance, is the promotion of (re)integration. Too often however, governments and large institutional donors offer little funding to support the provision of assistance and social services to former trafficking victims. As the victims are also pushed into drug trafficking, many of them face criminal sanctions also.
Short-term impact – psychological coercion Edit
The use of coercion by perpetrators and traffickers involves the use of extreme control. Perpetrators expose the victim to high amounts of psychological stress induced by threats, fear, and physical and emotional violence. Tactics of coercion are reportedly used in three phases of trafficking: recruitment, initiation, and indoctrination. During the initiation phase, traffickers use foot-in-the-door techniques of persuasion to lead their victims into various trafficking industries. This manipulation creates an environment where the victim becomes completely dependent upon the authority of the trafficker. Traffickers take advantage of family dysfunction, homelessness, and history of childhood abuse to psychologically manipulate women and children into the trafficking industry.
One form of psychological coercion particularly common in cases of sex trafficking and forced prostitution is Stockholm syndrome. Many women entering into the sex trafficking industry are minors whom have already experienced prior sexual abuse. Traffickers take advantage of young girls by luring them into the business through force and coercion, but more often through false promises of love, security, and protection. This form of coercion works to recruit and initiate the victim into the life of a sex worker, while also reinforcing a “trauma bond”, also known as Stockholm syndrome. Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response where the victim becomes attached to her perpetrator.
The goal of a trafficker is to turn a human being into a slave. To do this, perpetrators employ tactics that can lead to the psychological consequence of learned helplessness for the victims, where they sense that they no longer have any autonomy or control over their lives. Traffickers may hold their victims captive, expose them to large amounts of alcohol or use drugs, keep them in isolation, or withhold food or sleep. During this time the victim often begins to feel the onset of depression, guilt and self-blame, anger and rage, and sleep disturbances, PTSD, numbing, and extreme stress. Under these pressures, the victim can fall into the hopeless mental state of learned helplessness.
For victims of specifically trafficked for the purpose of forced prostitution and sexual slavery, initiation into the trade is almost always characterized by violence. Traffickers hunt down their victims and employ practices of sexual abuse, torture, brainwashing, repeated rape and physical assault until the victim submits to his or her fate as a sexual slave. Victims experience verbal threats, social isolation, and intimidation before they accept their role as a prostitute.
For those enslaved in situations of forced labor, learned helplessness can also manifest itself through the trauma of living as a slave. Reports indicate that captivity for the person and financial gain of their owners adds additional psychological trauma. Victims are often cut off from all forms of social connection, as isolation allows the perpetrator to destroy the victim’s sense of self and increase his or her dependence on the perpetrator.
Long-term impact Edit
Human trafficking victims may experience complex trauma as a result of repeated cases of intimate relationship trauma over long periods of time including, but not limited to, sexual abuse, domestic violence, forced prostitution, or gang rape. Complex trauma involves multifaceted conditions of depression, anxiety, self-hatred, dissociation, substance abuse, self-destructive behaviors, medical and somatic concerns, despair, and revictimization. Psychology researchers report that, although similar to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Complex trauma is more expansive in diagnosis because of the effects of prolonged trauma.
Victims of sex trafficking often get “branded” by their traffickers or pimps. These tattoos usually consist of bar codes or the trafficker’s name or rules. Even if a victim escapes their trafficker’s control or gets rescued, these tattoos are painful reminders of their past and results in emotional distress. To get these tattoos removed or covered-up can cost hundreds of dollars. 
Psychological reviews have shown that the chronic stress experienced by many victims of human trafficking can compromise the immune system. Several studies found that chronic stressors (like trauma or loss) suppressed cellular and humoral immunity. Victims may develop STDs and HIV/AIDS. Perpetrators frequently use substance abuse as a means to control their victims, which leads to compromised health, self-destructive behavior, and long-term physical harm. Furthermore, victims have reported treatment similar to torture, where their bodies are broken and beaten into submission.
Children are especially vulnerable to these developmental and psychological consequences of trafficking due to their age. In order to gain complete control of the child, traffickers often destroy physical and mental health of the children through persistent physical and emotional abuse. Victims experience severe trauma on a daily basis that devastates the healthy development of self-concept, self-worth, biological integrity, and cognitive functioning. Children who grow up in constant environments of exploitation frequently exhibit antisocial behavior, over-sexualized behavior, self-harm, aggression, distrust of adults, dissociative disorders, substance abuse, complex trauma, and attention deficit disorders. Stockholm syndrome is also a common problem for girls while they are trafficked, which can hinder them from both trying to escape, and moving forward in psychological recovery programs.
Although 98% of the sex trade is composed of women and girls there is an effort to gather empirical evidence about the psychological impact of abuse common in sex trafficking upon young boys. Boys often will experience forms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but also additional stressors of social stigma of homosexuality associated with sexual abuse for boys, and externalization of blame, increased anger, and desire for revenge.
Sex trafficking increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. The HIV/AIDS pandemic can be both a cause and a consequence of sex trafficking. On one hand, child-prostitutes are sought by customers because they are perceived as being less likely to be HIV positive, and this demand leads to child sex trafficking. On the other hand, trafficking leads to the proliferation of HIV, because victims, being vulnerable and often young/inexperienced, cannot protect themselves properly, and get infected.
Economic impacts Edit
According to estimates from the International Labour Organization (ILO), every year the human trafficking industry generates 32 billion USD, half of which ($15.5 billion) is made in industrialized countries, and a third of which ($9.7 billion) is made in Asia. 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, [there are] stark predictions about the likely growth in commercial sex slavery in the future.” Sex trafficking victims rarely get a share of the money that they make through coerced sex work, which further keeps them oppressed.
Miniseries about an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who are determined to stop the trafficking of women and children.
Both the human trafficking discourse and the actions undertaken by the anti-human traffickers have been criticized by some scholars and journalists. 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 Edit
Numerous NGOs and governmental agencies produce estimates and specific statistics on the numbers of potential and actual victims of trafficking. 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. 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. Others argue that many of these statistics are inflated to aid advocacy of anti-trafficking NGOs and the anti-trafficking policies of governments. Because of the definition of trafficking as 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.
A 2012 article in the International Communication Gazette examined the effect of two communication theories (agenda-building and agenda-setting) on media coverage on human trafficking in the United States and Britain. The article analyzed four newspapers including the Guardian and the Washington Post and categorized the content into various categories. Overall, the article found that sex trafficking was the most reported form of human trafficking by the newspapers that were analyzed (p. 154). Many of the other stories on trafficking were non-specific.
Problems with the concept Edit
According to some scholars, the very concept of human trafficking is murky and misleading. 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. 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’. One scholar says that while these debts might indeed be on very harsh conditions, they are usually incurred on a voluntary basis.
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 trafficking. Tara McCormack, a lecturer in international relations at Brunel University, has opined in Spiked magazine that the whole trafficking discourse can actually be detrimental to the interests of migrants as it denies them agency and as it depoliticizes debates on migration.
The international Save the Children organization also 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.”[
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