Published on March 5, 2013 | by Florinda Ratkoceri1
Human trafficking: The invisible victims
Human trafficking has become one of the most lethal and stomach-turning crimes currently hanging in our world, and it is on the rise.
This revolting offense involves the illegal trade of human beings for exploitation such as prostitution, forced labour, slavery and even the removal of organs.
People are recruited, transported and transferred through the means of threats, force, deceit and kidnap.
Families that are poverty-stricken and people who come from less economically developed countries are the typical victims ushered into this brutal domain.
In the UK, human trafficking is rising drastically. A BBC report found that the British authorities were made aware of 946 victims in 2011, up from 710 in 2010.
Types of Trafficking
There are different types of human trafficking that can take place. The most severe kind is sex trafficking.
Women are lured into false promises of a better life and job opportunities that they don’t think are achievable in their own countries.
Often these victims are teenagers that have run away from home, refugees, homeless, kidnapped individuals and even tourists.
The trafficking of children in particular has become an immense tragedy. Children are mobilised for exploitation purposes that take up many different arrangements.
One of the most common and disturbing occurrences is forced prostitution. Parents that are in outstanding debts often sell their children to these traffickers under deceit.
Forced and bonded labour are other classifications of human trafficking.
A BBC report found that the British authorities were made aware of 946 victims in 2011, up from 710 in 2010.
Men are mostly at risk in these situations as they are forced under violence to work against their will for little money. Their movement is highly controlled, making it harder for them to escape their position.
Bonded labour is an extensive target of human trafficking. Citizens who owe a debt fall under the traffickers prey as they have to repay their loans by sacrificing their personal services.
In response to the issue, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently launched The Blue Heart Campaign against human trafficking.
The Blue Heart is a symbol to remind people of the victim’s plight and the cold hearted traffickers who buy and sell innocent people.
The initiative aims to raise awareness in order to fight human trafficking by encouraging worldwide involvement and to inspire action. It aims to ask its supporters to wear the Blue Heart to show solidarity with the victims.
Human trafficking has become a global problem and there is no country that is not in danger of this crime – including in the UK.
Children and trafficking
The UNODC estimates that 2.4 million people are induced into forced labour.
Of all of the victims, 80% of them are women and girls. Thousands of men, women and children fall helplessly into the hands of traffickers in their own country and even abroad.
Trafficking of children takes up 15-20% of the 2.4 million estimated victims, while 80% of the children are used for sexual exploitation. The UNODC estimates a total market value of $32 billion made by the traffickers.
The UNODC have published a story of a young girl that explains the catastrophe of human trafficking.
Trafficking of children takes up 15-20% of the 2.4 million estimated victims, while 80% of the children are used for sexual exploitation.
It read: “15 year old Maria aided her family by selling bread in her village after school. During this time she would usually speak to a woman named Sofia who was 35 and lived in the same Latin American village.
“Over time the two developed a friendship and in 2004 Sofia made the 15 year old an offer of a high-paying job in the capital where she would be able to send money to her family and pull them out of poverty,” it said.
“With Sofia’s urging Maria did not tell her parents she was leaving and agreed to go.”
The story continued that upon leaving, Sofia intoxicated the young girl, leaving her unconscious. She later awoke in a taxi, arriving at an unfamiliar restaurant in the city.
It added: “The 35 year old woman prompted Maria to go clean up in the restaurant. Later she was joined by three other girls where the taxi driver brought them to a guesthouse. Here, all three girls were called in one by one.”
Maria happened to be the last chosen and she was later raped by the taxi driver.
Devastated and in anguish she was forced to work in a restaurant as a waitress for one month. After this period of time Sofia returned, claiming to be her mother and collected all of her wages as well as those of the other three girls.
Sofia relocated her to a different restaurant where once again she was forced to wait tables. However this time around she was required to expand her enslavement by having sex with customers in the back room.
The cycle repeated, where Sofia constantly kept Maria’s wages for herself and relocated her to a dancing parlour.
The owner of the company became suspicious of Maria’s and Sofia’s relationship and reported it to the authorities.
Young girls from around the world are misled by hope of a better life. Some travel thousands of miles from home where they have no escape route.
Unfortunately no action was taken. Maria was once again obliged to work at the dancing parlour, but this time she was not sexually exploited.
In an unexpected turn of events, Maria’s uncle visited the dancing parlour one night and immediately informed her parents.
They later found assistance from a human rights association. The staff freed Maria and filed a criminal suit against the responsible felons.
In 2005 Sofia was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment and fined $250, which Maria received as compensation.
Regrettably the taxi driver was not convicted. The judge who was investigating the case dropped charges because Maria’s and Sofia’s statements were contradictory and Maria was unable to locate the guesthouse where she was raped.
The judge made no further attempt to call for witnesses at the guesthouse or restaurant.
Awareness through charities
There are many similar stories to the one that Maria had to endure. Young girls from around the world are misled by hope of a better life. Some travel thousands of miles from home where they have no escape route.
Even if they do manage to escape, it is hard for them to find their families and even worse to explain the pain they had to undergo.
A small charity, the Poppy Project from the Eaves service (End Violence Against Women Campaign) was set up in 2003 with an aim to provide high-quality support, advocacy and accommodation for trafficked woman.
The support workers are there to create individual support plans, which include financial help as well as support in accessing health services and treatment. The Poppy service is able to accommodate 15 women at any time.
David Bastone, the president of the Not For Sale campaign, found out in 2001 that his favourite restaurant in the Bay area of California had been the core hub of local human trafficking.
He realised that human trafficking was severely becoming an international issue affecting every industry in our world. Following Bastone’s book Not For Sale, written in 2007, the charity was later created.
Not For Sale campaign aims to fight this modern day slavery by international projects, social enterprises and supply chain evaluation.
The first international project opened its first rehabilitation centre in Thailand which then grew into five additional centers in Peru, Netherlands, India, South Africa and Romania.
Here, they worked to provide safety and stability services to survivors. The campaign also targeted root causes of exploitation and provided skills in training education and job opportunities.
Victims of human trafficking are most likely to live at the premise of their “work” site or are constantly guarded by someone.
By creating enterprise for vulnerable communities Not For Sale campaign creates “mass-market product opportunities to bring about jobs and to be able to provide skills training for ‘at-risk’ individuals as well as survivors in need of sustainable income,” according to its website.
Not For Sale aims to publish easy accessible information behind the purchases of consumers. They offer resources to to companies looking to improve supply chains and “access the role of specific brands in the global rise of forced labour.”
The Not For Sale campaign runs a six month fellowship program for individuals looking to devote six months of their lives in order to help end slavery. The program consists of individuals working in offices and retail stores in Half Moon Bay, California.
This program is a fast-paced, intense, entrepreneurial campaign, a world apart from the typical nine-to-five job.
There are a few considerable ways in which students like us can help to stop modern day slavery, more commonly known as human trafficking:
- Take action on campus
- Raise awareness through a club or local community
- Write a research paper on Human trafficking, this will help expand your knowledge
- Set up google alerts to receive current news on human trafficking
- Sign a human trafficking petition
- Organise a fund-raiser
- Donate to anti-trafficking campaigns
It is vital to remember that no one volunteers to be exploited in such a cruel way. Victims that come from all types of settings are lied to by false advertisement. There are potential common evidence that may suggest trafficking is taking place in a commercial establishment.
It is vital to remember that no one volunteers to be exploited in such a cruel way.
These establishments can include: massage parlours, escort services, adult bookstores, modelling studios, bars and strip clubs. Signs to look out for would be barred windows and isolated locations.
Heavy security is seen present and women are rarely seen leaving the premises alone. Victims of human trafficking are most likely to live at the premise of their “work” site or are constantly guarded by someone.
These victims can also be kept under substantial surveillance at all times including visits to the doctor, hospital and clinic.
In these situations the chaperone will act as a ‘translator’. The poor sufferers are battling a life of torment, pain and despair where they are constantly beaten, starved and forced to work in severe and savage conditions receiving little or frequently in these situations no pay.
To find out more about Human trafficking check the following websites: