Course:Hist105/Human Trafficking

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Human Trafficking

    Human Trafficking is said to be the modern day slavery as essentially it does the same thing slavery did  up until the 19th century when it was abolished by most countries; well major countries like Britain and America who had a major influence on all parts of the world. Like slavery, human trafficking exploits humans for sex or labor; also, traffickers usually manipulate or kidnap people from different countries and transport them to the desired location which is much like what the slave trade did. The slave trade shipped Africans to America or Britain or wherever in the world, people had bought slaves. The first place in the world to abolish the slave trade was in the Italian city-state, Republic of Venice in 960 while the first place in world to abolish slavery was in Iceland in 1117; however in both places, the laws were reversed in due time. The last place in the world to abolish slavery was the North African country Islamic Republic of Mauritania in 1981.

Places Where Human Trafficking Occur

    Although human trafficking takes place all over the world, the highest rates of it are found in the Asia-Pacific region. Asia has had a long history of sex trafficking; for instance in the 1800’s, China started a system of prostitution when opium addictions become prevalent. Girls would be sold by her family to brothels for money to support addictions; some even sold their daughters because they were poverty stricken which is quite common in the modern day. However the mistreatment of women had started way before that in the Asian culture; the fact that females were always seen as weaker sex and a burden for the family to have made it very easy for families to sell off their daughters. As a result of being sold to a brothel owner, women who entered the sex industry were in debt and would only receive a small wage per service; not only that but they would also have to pay rent to the brothel owner and for their makeup or clothing. Thus not many women were able to escape such system; the ones that did received generous tips from clients or ran away with a client that had bought them from brothel owners. Not to mention, during the World War 2, Japan made "comfort stations" in various Asian countries like Korea for their soldiers to go and rape the "comfort women", who were usually kidnapped, manipulated women from the conquered countries.


    Cambodia is known for having the highest rates of sex trafficking in the world; this is partially because it has an underground virginity trade. That means that Cambodian government officials, military, police force, other wealthy elite of Cambodia and even tourists from around the world pay 500 to 5000 dollars to have sex with a virgin. Hundreds of thousands of young girl's virginities are sold per year. Sometimes they are sold in advance to actually having sex with the buyer; for example, a well-known government official gave mothers rice every week to feed their daughters until he felt they were ready to rape. Families sell their daughter or are coerced to sell their daughter because the virginity trade is a profitable business and that kind of money can put food on the table or help the family get out of debt; some families even sew back the hymens of their daughters so they can sell their "virginity" again and again. Clients buy virginity because of a cultural myth; Cambodians believe if they sleep with a virgin, they will get rid of AID's or become stronger and live longer. They are very misinformed which is why many of these girls die at an early age and there is no one to help them because government officials, who are supposed to condemn sex trafficking because it is illegal, are taking part in the virginity trade.


    Like Cambodia, India is not only a destination for human trafficking but a transit country too. This means that people are kidnapped from India or taken to India for the human trafficking to occur. However it seems that while 90% of the trafficking associated with India is domestic, 10% of it actually happens in international borders. This is because, like Cambodia, India's laws against human trafficking are flawed because of corruption in government, the courts being to busy with other issues, and a lack of protection services. Like other countries, victims of human trafficking are forced into sexual slavery, labour work (agricultural or domestic), organ trade, and becoming child soldiers; however, forcing victims into marriage is most prevalent in India than anywhere else in the world. The reasons of why human trafficking rates are so high is because of poverty, ease of getting through borders, caste system, and gender inequality. Poverty because the majority of India is desperate to obtain any source of income and human trafficking is the easiest way to do it. Also, India borders many other countries that also have high rates of human trafficking which is why many victims are transported from Bangledesh, Nepal and Cambodia to India. Not to mention the caste system allows the harsh treatment that human trafficking brings to be inflicted on the lower class as this is considered to be the norm of society; this is why the Dhalats are the main group of people that are targeted for human trafficking in India. Gender inequality allows a large number of women and young girls to be attacked by human trafficking as they don't have many rights; they are seen as objects. Human trafficking in India causes women to be even more subjected to oppression by the male sex, the caste system's injustice to continue, border security to be inefficient, and brings money into the country which allows it to be a continued practice despite it also bringing death, diseases, and an unstable country.

South Africa

    South Africa is considered to be the destination of human trafficking in all of Africa. This means that people are kidnapped or manipulated to come from other countries in Africa to go to South Africa with the promises of education, jobs or even marriage but end up becoming victims of human trafficking. Although South Africa is working on anti-human trafficking laws right now that does not stop 75 percent of nearly 900,000 victims being smuggled through borders every year and 1000 children gone missing daily in the country capital, Pretoria. Some questions have risen because of these large numbers and some claim them to be "overexaggerated" but we cannot ignore the fact that these people become sexual slaves, forced organ donors or child laborers which are injustices that needs to be corrected. Besides, this misinformation could be an estimate because of the fact that police in South Africa do not know that human trafficking itself is crime. Thus, they place actions of the crime under the titles of rape or kidnapping without realizing there is a bigger issue going on. Even victims don't realize that they are being trafficked and see as a customary practice.

United States of America

    Even though some assume that human trafficking is a problem that only developing countries deal with, it does exist in America where there is a law against human trafficking. In fact, America holds 26 percent of children trafficked worldwide. These children are usually trafficked for sexual or labor purposes and often subside to drug addictions, obtain disease (like HIV), become pregnant, are malnourished or commit suicide because of being victimized. However in the United States, human trafficking is much more secretive than in South Africa and Cambodia. Traffickers usually manipulate victims to do the work for them for minimal pay and children are often forced into child labor jobs like peddling. They are forced to go door to door selling candy or newspapers no matter what the weather conditions are and have no access to water or facilities. This sort of human trafficking is well-concealed to the public as it seems like a normal thing for a child to do and this is why children do not receive the help they need to get out of human trafficking or don't even know that they are being exploited. High risk children, although all are at risk of being victimized, are mostly runaways, homeless, LGBTQ, or previously sexually abused youth. Often young girls, who want to rebel against their parents or are desperate for a romantic relationship, are easy targets for pimps. Child victims of human trafficking often have an inability to go to school regularly, have bruises, are hungry, wear inappropriate clothing for the weather or surroundings, have rehearsed answers to questions, have tattoos displaying the name of a pimp, have an older, controlling boyfriend or girlfriend, have bad mood swings, have inattention, and have money troubles.


   As a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russians faced increasing unemployment and poverty; especially the women. This has led to Russia becoming a major human trafficking area. Since Russia always had a second economy that was brought by criminals who stole, scammed, and committed many other crimes, the ease of traveling that came because of globalization allowed the criminals to go to other countries to work in the international sex industry. The huge demand for prostitutes and sex slaves was so high, even government officials and police look the other way or even help these criminals manipulate and kidnap Russian or foreign women to be trafficked. In the 1990's, there were Russian newspaper advertisements that called for many women to work as waitresses, dancers, nannies and so on, however when they arrived at the location of the job (sometimes it would be in another country), these women would learn that they had applied to work in a brothel and could not leave because they would be beaten, raped, or threatened and their passports were taken by the brothel owner upon entering the building. These women would have to service 30 men a night and turned to alcohol or neurotics to cope with the pain or stress which only added to the cost of their debt. From 1992-2002, it has been said that 500,000 Russian women had to endure this kind of torture and only in 2003 did President Vladmir Putin agree to making human trafficking illegal after many protests from Russian scientists, women's groups, the US and Germany. However, traffickers are still not being caught as immigrant victims are being thrown in jail, many women are afraid and ashamed to tell their story. This is why the US put Russia as Tier -3 in their Trafficking in Persons Report in 2013 because they were not meeting anti-trafficking standards.


    The Mexican city Tenancingo is considered to be the "sex trafficking capital of the world" that employs 10,000 of its residents. It is also the largest supplier of sex slaves to the United States. Mexican women and girls (as young as 14) are usually kidnapped by sex traffickers in Tenancingo and taken to New York City to become prostitutes and then are taken to farms to have sex with migrant workers. They are manipulated and kidnapped by men who play to their traditional values and tell them that they want to marry them and that they want her to meet their family but really take them and confine them at brothels. The sex trafficking industry probably started up when agricultural work started to produce very little money and factories started to close down. Thus, traffickers started selling women and many young boys aspire to become traffickers because of the money it makes. A pimp with three prostitutes can make half a million dollars per year. The sex industry business is held in luxurious mansions nicknamed "calcuilchil" which translates to "houses of ass." Prostitutes usually see 60 clients a day and have no chance of escaping because they feel so helpless. Only 17 pimps of 5000 are convicted in Tenancingo as police spend most of their time fighting drugs.

Sri Lanka

    Although some Sri Lankan women are subjected to prostitution in Jordan, Singapore, Maldives, and other countries after being trafficked out of the country, more males than females are forced into prostitution in the country as a result of being poor and having physical deformities. Child labour is also a huge problem as several children are forced to work in the Tamil tea estate sector of the country. There they are subjected to physical, sexual and mental abuse as well as no pay and no mobility. However it is not only Sri Lankans that are enslaved in the country; a small percentage of victims come from Thailand, China, Egypt, and former Soviet Union. The Sri Lankan Government does not sufficiently address the danger of human trafficking and rarely are perpetrators convicted which is why Sri Lanka is placed on Tier 2 Watch list. It is important to note that although Sri Lanka is a destination for human trafficking, it is to a lesser extent than a source for victims as thousands of Sri Lankans are taken to the Middle East, US, and South Asia for forced labour work.

Human Trafficking and Relations to the Olympics

    Studies have shown that when the Olympics is held in a city, rates of human trafficking spike in that specific city. This is because there is "a huge rise in demand for cheap sex around large sporting events." However it is strange that the rate of forced prostitution does not arise around sporting events. This is because governments of countries do not believe that human trafficking is occurring. Instead they use, like Germany did in 2006 during the World Cup, rescue raids to criminalize sex workers, lobby against legalization of prostitution, and restrict the entry of migrants. German policemen harassed and violated migrants and sex workers and then deported or detained them without proper investigation; they basically re-victimized the trafficked person by not treating them as victims but as criminals. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, migrants  were largely exploited when working on sports venues prior to the games; six workers had been killed in the workplace as a result of labour conditions and rights. They had to work longer hours in a limited time period which led to an increased risk for workers. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women suggest to decrease rates of human trafficking around sport events like the Olympics or the World Cup, governments must closely monitor construction projects near the Game time and ensure that anti-trafficking campaigns are developed to increase the safety of sex workers during games.