Published in Blog

What is human trafficking? Featured

Written by  Wednesday, 01 February 2017 17:18 Be the first to comment!
Credit: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department. Credit: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department.

 

What is human trafficking? With so many mentions in the media nowadays one would think the meaning of the human trafficking should be clear. This is not the case however. The term is often used even when it is apparent that what is being described is not human trafficking at all. Indeed the term has led to so much confusion that there is sometimes a tendency among those advocating for the rights of its victims not to use it. Knowing the confusion caused by the term many have reverted to calling it by its older name. Quite simply human trafficking is slavery.

To distinguish it from its historical form today’s slavery is more often referred to as modern-day slavery. This raises the obvious question about just how different the slavery of the past is to the slavery of the present. Surprisingly it is not all that different, with the most marked difference being how historical slavery was often a state-sanctioned activity, something modern-day slavery could never be in today’s world.

Violence is a critical part of human trafficking. This violence takes many forms, but for the purposes of a simple informal definition one could understand human trafficking or modern-day slavery as: the use of force, deception or coercion to exploit human beings as commodities. This exploitation is sometimes motivated by greed for money, and at other times it is motivated by greed of a different variety. A much more elaborate definition is given in international law, under what is known as the Palermo Protocol. What is conspicuous by its absence from the simple informal definition provided is any reference to movement. This is because trafficking does not mean movement. It means trade, and historically when the term was used, as in the traffic in human beings, it meant the trade in human beings and not their movement. That trade can be domestic or trans-national.

Amidst the many reports on the current tragedy of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean are references to human traffickers and human trafficking. Interspersed with these references are others referring to human smugglers and to human smuggling. These reports are often inaccurate for several reasons. Human trafficking is not human smuggling, and the smuggling of human beings does not make one a human trafficker. Smuggling is often exploitative, while human trafficking is always exploitative, but even so they are exploitative in different ways. On one hand, the smuggler may take advantage of the migrant’s predicament to extract whatever monies she or he has available. The smuggler may also exploit the migrant by not fulfilling his end of the bargain in arranging movement. For the trafficker, on the other hand, movement may never feature in his exploitation of his victim. If it does feature, it is only a step in a much larger process directed towards his victim’s future exploitation as a slave. Consequently the reports on the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean are often only partly right. Often what they describe is human smuggling, and not human trafficking.

Nonetheless caution is needed. While human smuggling is not human trafficking, that is not to say that those who are exploited by smugglers will not later be exploited by human traffickers. The vulnerability that meant one needed to be smuggled in the first place often creates an opportunity for human traffickers to exploit later on. Indeed it is a damning indictment of the current predicament surrounding migrants that many thousands of children, once smuggled into Europe to escape calamity at home, have disappeared into Europe's sex trade through the efforts of human traffickers.

With more than 40 million people now estimated to be victims of modern-day slavery worldwide understanding is important. Awareness has certainly improved over the course of the past decade. Comprehension however remains quite impoverished. Nowhere is this more evident than in media reports which mistake human smuggling for human trafficking.

Read 1352 times Last modified on Monday, 13 February 2017 17:17

Got something to say? Go for it!

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.


 
 

Open Secrets: An Irish Perspective on Trafficking and Witchcraft

Open Secrets: An Irish Perspective on Trafficking and Witchcraft explores modern slavery, human trafficking, and their slaves, all from the perspective of present-day events in Ireland.

Happening Now

Hospitality Industry Working To Fight Human Trafficking

We reported this month that Michigan State Police are working with the trucking industry to help sto...

Ivorian police raid cocoa farms and villages in child trafficking crackdown

According to the National Committee for Actions to Combat Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labor ...

Jeffrey Epstein abused, trafficked girls and young women in Virgin Islands, local AG says

"The complaint speaks for itself and lays out allegations of a pattern and practice of human tr...

Ivanka Trump plans White House summit on human trafficking

The White House will host a summit on human trafficking at the end of January marking 20 years since...

Children make up 30% of all identified trafficking victims

Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Every year, thousan...

Members of international human trafficking ring arrested in Egypt

Egypt's Administrative Control Authority (ACA) has arrested all the members of an international ...

Mexico launches plan to tackle labour abuse in fashion supply chain

Two initiatives aimed at cracking down on child labour, forced labour and human trafficking in the f...

Over 2500 kids disappeared from asylum centers in 10 years

The Netherlands first really became aware of human trafficking networks in the country in the 1990s,...

Modern slavery and/or human trafficking in borough reports treble

THE number of reports of modern slavery and/or human trafficking in the borough has trebled in the s...

Full decriminalisation of the sex industry is a step backwards

The government continued on its path of prostitution law reform failure ... With human trafficking f...

Church App Helps Protect Against Human Trafficking

A new mobile app has been launched by the Church of Uganda to help young people avoid falling into h...

Human trafficking network busted

BENGALURU: A 50-year-old Bangladeshi man, who is suspected of regularly trafficking poor young women...

Looking ahead - Child soldiers

Many countries with known records of child soldier abuse rely on weapons and military assistance fro...

Crackdown on child labour in Mexico

The 14-month programme aims to prevent, detect and assist victims of child labour, forced labour and...

Taipei prosecutors indict 14 for trafficking, sex offenses

Taipei, Jan. 10 (CNA) The Taipei District Prosecutors Office indicted a couple and 12 others Friday ...

In One Caribbean Nation – Sex Trafficking in Plain Sight

Sex trafficking involving women from neighboring Latin American nations has existed for decades in o...

Kuwaiti gets 7 yrs jail for human trafficking – Pakistani, Bangladeshi involved

They allegedly got involved in organized human trafficking with cheating and fraud, and deceived pla...

Wyoming could impose minimum 25-year prison sentences for repeat human trafficking offenses

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming could soon enforce stricter prison sentences for adults facing repeat human...

Archbishop Eamon Martin speaks against evils of war, human trafficking and 'throwaway culture' at ...

Archbishop Eamon Martin spoke of the evils of war, violence, human trafficking and exploitation in h...

Pope Francis: May Christ be the light!

Pope Francis has called for an end to the conflict in Syria. ... And he reiterated his concerns abou...

About David Lohan

David Lohan is an author and researcher on modern slavery, a phenomenon otherwise known as human trafficking. He first encountered the issue of modern slavery during his work with an organization providing outreach to refugees and asylum seekers. His first book on the subject, a co-authored work, explored the role played by African witchcraft in present-day slavery. He holds a bachelor's degree in engineering and several post-graduate qualifications. His Master of Art (Politics) research explored policy approaches aimed at combating slavery. He is presently working on his second book on modern slavery.

With a commitment to victims of modern slavery.

© Copyright 2016 by DavidLohan.com. All Rights Reserved.

Back to the top.