Human Trafficking Research Paper

Two hundred years after the abolition of the transatlantic slavery trade, millions people live in slavery. The massive international problem of human trafficking encompasses different forms of exploitation. Criminals may have various reasons for trafficking people, including those of sexual slavery, labor exploitation, marriage, human organs, child soldiers, begging and many others. Importantly, at the moment, every continent is involved in the global human trafficking network. The signs of human trafficking aren’t obvious, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t taking place. Due to the fact that the activities connected with trafficking are illegal, the populations involved in them hide and refuse to cooperate with the police, thus complicating the research of the problem, its mechanisms and outcomes. Meanwhile, there’s evidence that the prevalence has even increased within the recent decades due to the globalization trend, improved transportation system and decreased transportation costs.

The current scale of trafficking is now significant, but its outcomes and real costs will become clear only in coming decades. Due to the nature of the problem and the special characteristics of the people involved in it, making even inexact estimates is difficult. However, most experts agree that both demand and supply are increasing in all places. According to the latest data, at least 400,000 people from Africa, Middle East and Asia are illegally entering Europe every year. As to the United States, the amount of illegal immigrants is even bigger, reaching 850,000 every year since 2000 (Shelley, 2010, p. 48). About two thirds of victims are women and children under 18, who are kidnapped for commercial sexual exploitation. Importantly, many of those illegal immigrants have paid the traffickers, and thus they can’t be even considered as victims of trafficking. However, even after paying for the opportunity of illegal immigration, people often become victims of the situation. Human trafficking demand and supply are growing, and the business is attractive for the transnational criminals due to its low start-up costs, minimal risks and high profits. Moreover, humans can be resold again and again, which makes them even more attractive than drugs to the transnational dealers. Human trafficking is currently perpetuated on such a large scale that it is recognized as the prime activity of numerous transnational crime groups.

Modern slavery, referred to as human trafficking is similar to the traditional concept of slavery and differs from it in a number of important aspects at the same time. Slaveholders have a complete or nearly complete control over their slaves, and the enslaved individuals have to live and work exactly how it’s requested from them by their owners (Cullen-DuPont, 2009, p. 8). At the same time, there are some significant differences between the human trafficking outcomes and the outdated mechanisms of slavery. First, slavery is not a legal institution anymore, and for this reason the slaveholders have to hide their slaves and strictly monitor them to avoid publicity and prevent disclosure of their situation. Second, slaveholders can’t rely on legislation according to which their slaves have to obey, and traffickers have to use threats and other coercion mechanisms. The most popular of those mechanisms is the threat of violence towards the slaves’ families back home. Third, modern slaves are often required to pay off their transportation costs. In this way, the victims often get into debt bondage, when the salary they get is enough only to cover their debts and the ongoing living expenses. The slaveholders never worry about their slaves’ health, and whenever a slave gets seriously ill, s/he is thrown out to die on their own. Thus, the official abolition of slavery made the traffickers improve their criminal mechanisms to hide their activities and ensure biggest revenues.

Currently, the existing studies on the extent, major reasons and mechanisms of trafficking lack consistency. One of the major problems with researching the problem of human trafficking is the difficulty of getting information from the hidden population and the unwillingness of former victims to participate in studies and give viable information. The populations which are usually chosen for sampling are marked with strong bias and cannot be regarded as representative. Therefore, poverty, migration patterns and particular psychological characteristics which are usually recognized as the reasons behind the victimization and being trafficked are received from biased data (Tyldum & Brunovskis, 2005, p. 32). Whereas the human trafficking research is currently in its early stages, the valuable findings of diverse forms and patterns of trafficking, including even extreme forms, might be helpful for better understanding of the problem in its complexity. More information on the existing state of affairs might help to increase the public awareness of the potential risks of trafficking and help potential victims identify the suspicious schemes and avoid them by all means.

As a present-day form of slavery, human trafficking has become one of the major forms of transnational crime patterns, with its extremely high revenues and low start-up costs. Importantly, people often voluntarily become victims of trafficking and even pay for their transportation, in the hope of better tomorrow and high salaries, as promised by the traffickers. Better understanding and improved awareness of the potential risks might prevent numerous crimes and tragedies.

Reference List

Cullen-DuPont, K. (2009). Human trafficking. Infobase Publishing: New York, NY.

Shelley, L. (2010). Human trafficking: A global perspective. Cambridge University Press: New York, NY.

Tyldum, G. & Brunovskis, A. (2005). Describing the unobserved: Methodological challenges in empirical studies on human trafficking. International Migration, 43 (1/2): 17 – 35.

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