Human trafficking is modern day slavery. Together with arms dealing, human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world – the biggest is drugs.
(What kind of a photo can you use for a blog post about human trafficking? I thought about it for two days, and then just decided to use my own face.)
What is Human Trafficking?
The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines human trafficking as ” 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 exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs“.
It is not easy to estimate the true number of victims, because human trafficking is a crime that happens underground, and victims are not necessarily always recognized as victims of trafficking. According to conservative estimates there are 2.5 million victims of human trafficking worldwide at any one time.
According to the UNDOC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012
- women and girls together account for about 75% of trafficking victims worldwide
- 27% of victims detected globally are children
- trafficking for sexual exploitation accounted for 58% of all detected cases, and trafficking for forced labour 36% of detected cases in 2012. The figure for detected forced labour cases has doubled in four years.
Pretty much all countries in the world are affected by human trafficking as origin, transit and/or destination countries. Trafficking often happens from a less developed country to a more developed country. According to UNDOC, victims from Asia are trafficked to the widest range of destinations. However, trafficking also often happens within a country. Most trafficking is in fact national or regional.
As well as sexual exploitation and forced labour, trafficking can include trafficking for the purposes of domestic servitude, forced marriage, forced labour, organ removal, and the exploitation of children in the sex trade, in begging or in warfare. According to UNDOC, trafficked people who end up in forced labour work “at the margins of the formal economy, with irregular employment or migration status”: often they will end up working in agriculture, horticulture, the garment and textiles industries (think sweatshops), construction, domestic work, catering and restaurants, and the entertainment and sex industry. But human trafficking also affects mainstream economic sectors.
The number of convictions for human trafficking is low.
So there you have some facts. And now you might ask:
Why Should This Concern Me? I’m Just a Tourist
You’re a tourist/traveller. And you’re also a human being. So from that point it does concern you. As a tourist or a traveller you are also in a position to act against human trafficking and sex trafficking.
The United Nations tourism body, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) together with the UNDOC, will launch a campaign later this year to urge tourists to “help reduce demand for illicit goods and services linked to transnational organized crime”. More than a billion tourists cross international borders every year, and tourists have the power to act against the demand for illegal products (such as cultural artefacts, wildlife, products such as ivory), not only because the products themselves are illegal but because they might also be used to fund organized crime. The campaign will highlight the importance of making ethical choices as we travel, and it will encourage tourists to help to reduce the demand for trafficking in people.
“Tourists are often exposed to the traffickers of human beings and unethical products. By making informed choices, tourists can help sever the financial arteries that fuel these forms of illicit trade”, said the Executive Director of UNODC, Yury Fedotov.
What sort of informed choices can you make, then? My next posts are going to talk more about ethical travel in Asia.