Criminal Justice

Human Trafficking

What exactly is human trafficking? Many drug smugglers use people to traffic their drugs across country borders, but that is not the type of human trafficking discussed here. Human trafficking is the actual trade of human beings to foreign countries. Researchers Julie Cwikel and Elizabeth Hoban note the definition, "[A]cknowledges that when deception, threats, violence, and fraud are used, even in cases where women have consented to entering a work contract, the abrogation of their human rights constitutes trafficking" (Cwikel and Hoban). Thus, trafficking includes women who at first agree to work in another country, but are taken advantage of or forced into other work once they arrive. Many experts feel this form of sexual exploitation is one of the worst violations of human rights in the world today.

Human trafficking is the smuggling of people against their will for use mainly in forced labor or prostitution. Many people might be surprised to know this practice still exists in the world today. In fact, it is a very profitable business and prevalent in many foreign countries, and continues despite the efforts of many governments to end the trade. The United States alone has spent over $54 billion to end the trade around the world (Cwikel and Hoban). Cwikel and Hoban continue, trafficking of women and children for work outside their countries of origin in an increasingly globalized sex industry is a significant issue for public health professionals, international law enforcement and human rights agencies, international labor monitors, and groups concerned with women's and children's welfare" (Cwikel and Hoban). The United Nations (UN) has drafted a Trafficking Protocol, and many countries around the world are attempting to create polices addressing the global human trafficking problem. Recruiters often use the Internet to lure women to foreign countries; it is a highly effective marketing tool in the modern trafficking industry.

There is still a burgeoning trade in human beings in many countries, including the United States. In fact, the practice has increased in recent years at least in part because of the ease of communication via computers, cell phones, and such. Cwikel and Hoban state, "The scope of human trafficking is hard to measure, but it is estimated that from 700,000 to 2 million women, with some estimates as high as 4 million women and children, are trafficked across borders to work in the sex industry each year" (Cwikel and Hoban). Nearly all the victims of human trafficking are women and children, and most of the women are forced into sex trades such as prostitution.

Many women answer what they believe are legitimate ads for employment, and are then kidnapped, tortured, raped, and beaten until they comply with their captors wishes. Often, they are taken far from their homes and hidden away with no form of escape. One researcher writes of a young girl betrayed by her sister. He states, "At 17 her sister arranged for her to be married to a man who, for U.S. $300, sold her to a brothel owner. For five years, Neary was used by up to seven men a day until she contracted HIV and was discarded because she became too sick to make money for the brothel. Neary died of AIDS at 23" (Miller). There are many other stories such as this, of women, after they become unable to work, are discarded like trash to fend for themselves or die.

Human trafficking is smuggling of a sort, but smugglers usually traffic in people who choose to enter another country, usually illegally, while human traffickers kidnap at least some of their victims and smuggle them against their will. Other victims willingly travel to foreign countries for jobs, only to be duped into illegal activities such as prostitution. Others enter these activities after attempting to live on low-paying jobs with little opportunity for advancement (Cwikel and Hoban). The individuals are difficult to track because all of their activities are kept secret because of fears of deportation on the victims' part, and fines and shutdowns on the employers' part.

Often, the traffickers are friends, family, or acquaintances of the victim and many victims enter into agreements willingly,…