Human trafficking dates back to the days of the slave trade when Africans used to be held captive by slave traders and transported to America and European countries (Aronowitz 33). Other claims hold that it began during the 1700s when children were widely subjected to forced labor in many American and European countries (Farrell 24). Human trafficking refers to the use of people for free or cheap labor and sexual exploitation against their will.
It is considered to be a contemporary form of traditional slavery. In many trafficking cases, victims do domestic work for little or no pay or are subjected to sexual exploitation for purposes of financial gains by their captors (Aronowitz 34). Victims usually have few options and resources to emancipate themselves from captivity. Their working conditions make them go unnoticed by representatives of law enforcement agencies and social services.
It is important to study and understand human trafficking because it fosters a violation of human rights. Also, its concealed nature allows perpetrators to violate victims under the watch of the law (Aronowitz 35). It involves either sex trafficking or labor trafficking. Human trafficking is a vice that should be abolished completely because it violates human rights and denies victims a chance to achieve their full potential.
Definition by Contrast
The United Nations defines human trafficking as any form of recruitment, shipping and harboring of individuals through coercion for purposes of exploitation (Aronowitz 39). Reasons for its existence include forced labor, coerced donation of organs, slavery, and sexual exploitation. It is perpetuated under the pretext of assisted immigration of people.
However, it is not similar to assisted immigration (Farrell 27). Trafficking takes both domestic and international forms. Individuals can be trafficked within a country or transported to foreign countries. Therefore, it is not only a foreign practice but a phenomenon that takes place within countries.
On the other hand, human trafficking is not human smuggling, as many people believe (Farrell 28). The two are separated entities. Smuggling is usually voluntary because an individual does it in search of opportunities. In contrast, human trafficking is involuntary and is done against the will of a victim. Many people believe that it occurs under illegal circumstances.
However, not all cases of human trafficking occur illegally (Hart 43). Many victims are shipped to foreign countries legally by migration laws. However, upon arrival, their captors coerce them into domestic labor or sexual exploitation activities. In most societies, human trafficking is synonymous with only sexual exploitation. However, it does not involve sexual exploitation only.
This perspective has led to the proliferation of human trafficking because victims of forced labor are disregarded since they are assumed to enjoy financial gains (Hart 44). A common myth holds that only women are involved in the illegal practice. However, it does not involve women only. It includes men and children.
Furthermore, most victims are women because they are better suited for sexual exploitation and domestic labor than men and children. Men are mainly trafficked to provide forced labor in farms and industries that run illegal businesses. This makes it more dangerous and demeaning.
Causes of Human Trafficking
Causes of human trafficking include local factors and universal factors. Local factors include poverty, political and economical instability, domestic violence, and poor family ties (Farrell 35). Also, it is caused by illiteracy and gender discrimination. Women and children are the main victims in many countries. Subjection to gender discrimination, domestic violence, and abject poverty makes them more compared to men (Farrell 36).
They are snared into the trap with promises of better lives and decent financial gains. Political and social instability is another cause. Politically unstable countries allow the proliferation of human trafficking because they lack stringent laws to stop the heinous act (Aronowitz 50).
Universal factors include weak migration laws, weak anti-trafficking laws, extensive corruption among government agencies, lack of knowledge on the dangers of human trafficking, and the lure of high financial gains. Most countries lack strong anti-trafficking legislation (Aronowitz 51).
Therefore, enforcement of anti-trafficking laws is minimal thereby giving perpetrators an opportunity to proliferate their trade. For example, Burma’s widespread human rights abuses and economic mismanagement encourage the proliferation of human trafficking.
Effects of Trafficking
Effects of human trafficking include psychological effects, health effects, societal effects, and economic effects. Victims succumb to depression, low self-esteem, and emotional disorientation (Farrell 43). They develop destructive psychological disorders that negatively affect them by destabilizing their mental states. Most victims turn to solitude and develop suicidal tendencies (Farrell 44).
For example, children develop emotional instability and psychological disorders that deny them a healthy state of mind for their entire lives. The severity of traumatic experiences depends on the length of subjection to sexual exploitation or forced labor. Health effects include high vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases and drug addiction (Aronowitz 57).
Victims of human trafficking live harsh lives. Therefore, they are forced to use drugs to help them cope with the harsh realities of life. They are also vulnerable to other diseases due to the poor conditions they live in. Also, they receive poor health treatment when they succumb to illnesses. Victims are subjected to poor living standards and physical abuse (Hart 57).
Also, victims find difficulties fitting into society when they are rescued. Societal discrimination and isolation prevent them from living normal lives (Farrell 46). These factors contribute to the creation of an unstable society. Human trafficking poses serious threats to the economy of the host countries. Availability of cheap labor from victims causes high rates of unemployment.
This reduces the per capita income of a country because employment contributes significantly to the well-being of the economy. Moreover, it leads to other vices such as terrorism, corruption, illegal migration, unemployment, poverty, and poor standards of living, which affect the economy negatively (Hart 61).
Historically, there are varied claims as to when human trafficking started. Some historians claim that it started during the slave trade era when African slaves were transported to America and European countries. Others claim that it started in the 1700s when children were inducted into forced labor. It takes two forms that include sexual exploitation and forced labor.
It is caused by several factors. These include abject poverty, gender discrimination, domestic violence, political and economic instability, and illiteracy. Other causes include inadequate knowledge on the dangers of human trafficking, poor anti-trafficking legislation, and extensive corruption.
Human trafficking is associated with certain health, psychological, societal, and economic effects that result. Victims are physically abused and denied their human rights. Human trafficking is illegal, immoral, and unethical, and it should be abolished because it leads to severe violation of human rights.
Aronowitz, Alexis. Human trafficking, Human Misery: The Global Trade in Human Beings. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2009. Print.
Farrell, Courtney. Human Trafficking. New York: ABDO, 2011. Print.
Hart, Joyce. Human Trafficking. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2009. Print.