Why Human Trafficking?

(article written and submitted by Gennevieve St. Leger)

Why Human Trafficking?

Why do criminals and criminal organizations traffic in humans?  This question can be answered with one word: money.   Human trafficking is the third most profitable business for organized crime; the first and second are drug and arms trafficking.  Pino Arlacchi, Director General for the International Seminar on Trafficking in Human Beings in Brazil, states that many drug traffickers are switching to human trafficking due to higher profits and lower risk.  The United Nations estimates the total number of people trafficked every year is between 700 thousand and 1 million.  It also estimates that 79 percent of these victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation.  Human trafficking takes place in every country and it generates tens of billions of dollars of profit each year.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is “the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud, or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.”  Human Trafficking applies to all people, not just women but men too.  Not just children but also adults.  Sometimes people are forced away from their homes violently.  Other times they are tricked with promises of food, shelter, and an overall better life.  Sometimes a trusted friend or family member sees a poor family struggling and offers to take custody of a child or two to provide them with better shelter and ample food.  Some are told they can get a good paying farming or factory job in a nearby town; however, they never get what they are promised.  The main objective of traffickers is to exploit the people they take.  This exploitation can be sexual; forcing the victims to become prostitutes in brothels or sex slaves for a master.  Or, this exploitation can be based on labor; where victims are forced into various forms of non-sexual servitude.

What is the Difference Between Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons?

Smuggling of persons is when one pays a person to smuggle them into a county illegally.  One of the main differences between human trafficking and smuggling is consent.  Victims of human trafficking do not consent to being transported to another country nor do they consent to what happens when they get to their destination.  In smuggling, the person wants to go to the country the smuggler takes them to.  Once a smuggled immigrant gets into his or her desired country that person is free to find employment, to find a place to live, and so-on.  A victim of human trafficking is forced to work where his or her abductors demand and the victim does not receive any compensation for the work; the abductors keep all proceeds of the victims’ labor.  Smuggling is always transporting a person from one country to another.  Many human trafficking victims never leave their country, or even their state.  Sometimes, people who pay to be smuggled into another country become victims of human trafficking.  After being voluntarily smuggled into another country these victims become exploited by their smugglers and are forced into brothels or to work for very little or nothing.


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