Human trafficking is the illegal act of harboring, recruiting, transferring, transporting, selling and purchasing of people through abduction, coercion, deception, fraud, and abuse of power for financial exploitation and profit. Exploitation includes prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or similar practices, servitude, and the removal of human organs for profit.
The Global Slavery Index estimates that in 2016 there are 45.8 million slaves in 167 countries– the majority of whom is women and girls. That’s 85 percent of the nations in the world– who are enslaved. Women and girls are primarily exploited for sex-trafficking, whereas men are primarily exploited for forced labor.
Data Source: World Economic Forum, International Labour Organization, Human Trafficking Centre
Sex-trafficking exists because men, individuals and groups, so-called sex tourists, either travel abroad to purchase commercial sex. Buyers easily exploit weak legal systems that enable and ignore the sexual abuse primarily of poor girls from marginalized communities.
Sex-trafficking also exists because in some countries, it is legal. Trafficking women and girls is culturally and legally permissible in several African, South American, Gulf State and Middle Eastern countries.
America is one of several primary destinations for trafficked victims in the world. Approximately 14,500-17,500 victims are trafficked into the U.S. every year. Girls as young as 5-years-old are trafficked and sold to brothels for a maximum of $100 per child. The standard price for illegal commercial sex with women at a U.S. brothel is $30.
Law enforcement data varies by state, but to date, Houston, Texas has the highest number of trafficked victims in America. And, the State Attorney General reported that Texas has the second highest number of calls made to the Human Trafficking Resource Center in the country.
Trafficking and The Internet
Supply and demand have increased through the years partially due to the internet and the ease with which traffickers and customers can discreetly complete a tr ansaction. Traffickers utilize social media, dating sites and online advertisements to market minors and trafficked victims. Ads seemingly posted by a person willingly engaged in the sex trade are often created or monitored by traffickers. Traffickers lie about the victim’s age and may even disguise themselves as the person in the ad when communicating with johns via the internet or phone. Some websites try to screen ads for trafficking; however, the sheer volume of ads makes this process a daunting task. For instance, when the U.S. Craigslist Adult Services Section was available, there were 10,000-16,000 adult services postings per day in the U.S. alone. Additionally, it’s difficult to determine if the person advertising is independently working in the sex industry or is under a trafficker. (1)
This chart is from SharedHope.org
The Number of Prosecutions of Human Traffickers is Alarmingly Low:
•According to the 2015 State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, there were only 10,051 prosecutions and 4,443 convictions for trafficking globally in 2014.
◦811 prosecutions, 317 convictions and the identification of 9,523 victims occurred in Africa
◦1,938 prosecutions, 969 convictions and the identification of 6,349 victims occurred in East Asia & the Pacific
◦4,199 prosecutions, 1,585 convictions, and the identification of 11,910 victims occurred in Europe
◦320 prosecutions, 144 convictions, and the identification of 3,388 victims occurred in the Near East
◦1,839 prosecutions, 958 convictions, and the identification of 4,878 victims occurred in South & Central Asia
◦944 prosecutions, 470 convictions, and the identification of 8,414 victims occurred in the Western Hemisphere
•Of the estimated 14.5 million forced labor victims worldwide, only 418 cases of forced labor were prosecuted globally in 2014, according to the US Department of State, a 65% decrease from 1,199 cases prosecuted in 2013.
•In 2014, the Department of Justice convicted a total of 184 human traffickers, up from 174 in 2013.
UNICEF estimates that there are over 2 million sex-trafficked children worldwide.
The average age of a girl first trafficked into prostitution is 13.
Sex slavery and trafficking of children is connected to other forms of child slavery. The poorest children are most vulnerable. Children may be forced into domestic servitude and are sexually abused by a new family member. In several impoverished countries children are married off by family members to gain financial stability or to pay off a debt. Parents often ask their children to work to help provide for their family.
Domestic servitude is one form of bonded slavery and it is also linked to forced marriage.
Servitude involves … in the custody of traffickers, a victim’s passport and official papers are confiscated and held. Victims are told they are in the destination country illegally, which increases victims’ dependence on their traffickers. Victims are often kept in captivity and also trapped into debt bondage, whereby they are obliged to pay back large recruitment and transportation fees before being released from their traffickers. Many victims report being charged additional fines or fees while under bondage, requiring them to work longer to pay off their debts.
Isolation – By definition, domestic work occurs within the confines of a residential home. Victims within domestic work may have extremely limited or monitored interaction with others in the community, such as neighbors, school staff, or postal workers. The NHTRC has received calls from domestic workers were required to live in their employer’s home and never left the premise of the residence. This level of isolation can be exploited by employers who proactively seek to limit victim’s interactions with the outside work and limit access to technology.
“people may be trafficking victims regardless of whether they were born into a state of servitude or were transported to the exploitative situation, whether they once consented to work for a trafficker, or whether they participated in a crime as a direct result of being trafficked. At the heart of this phenomenon are the myriad forms of enslavement – not the activities involved in international transportation.”
Domestic servitude is the seemingly normal practice of live-in help that is used as cover for the exploitation and control of someone, usually from another country. It is a form of forced labor, but it also warrants its own category of slavery because of the unique contexts and challenges it presents.
Victims of domestic servitude may appear to be nannies or other domestic help, but the moment their employment arrangement transitions into a situation whereby they cannot leave on their own free will, it becomes a case of enslavement.
Though working, if their employer or recruiter adds on additional costs that can never be repaid, like housing or food, then the arrangement has transitioned into a form of slavery. This problem is compounded when employers or recruiters neglect legal documentation or confiscate it because migrant domestic workers are often fearful of reporting the abuse for fear of legal consequences.
Human trafficking victims experience various stages of degradation and physical and psychological torture. Victims are often deprived of food and sleep, are unable to move about freely, and are physically tortured. In order to keep women captive, victims are told their families and their children will be harmed or murdered if they (the women) try to escape or tell anyone about their situation. Because victims rarely understand the culture and language of the country into which they have been trafficked, they experience another layer of psychological stress and frustration.
Often, before servicing clients, women are forcibly raped by the traffickers themselves, in order to initiate the cycle of abuse and degradation. Some women are drugged in order to prevent them from escaping. Once “broken in,” sex trafficked victims can service up to 30 men a day, and are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection and unwanted pregnancy.
Domestic servitude is also linked to forced marriage. In the case of minors, it’s also a case of child enslavement. Forced marriage is a mix of several forms of slavery, including forced labor, sexual enslavement and domestic servitude. Oftentimes, these individuals do not speak the language of the country they are in, are fearful of immigration officials or are unable to make contact outside of the home they serve.
Forced domestic servitude is quite common in Haiti, whereby forced child servants are called restaveks. Restavek comes from the French “rester avec,” which means “one who stays with.” Haitian parents send their children to work and live with other families in exchange for better care and educational opportunities. These children are forced to work as enslaved domestic servants, and there are hundreds of stories of these children facing extreme beatings and inhumane living conditions, while never receiving the promised care or education. [http://www.endslaverynow.org/learn/slavery-today/domestic-servitude]
Millions of migrant domestic workers around the world are particularly vulnerable to forced labor. Overwhelmingly, women and girls (typically from developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America), assume great risks when migrating.
Domestic workers perform work within their employers’ households, and provide services such as cooking, cleaning, child-care, elder care, gardening and other household work. Domestic workers may or may not live in their employer’s homes. Victims of domestic servitude commonly work 10 to 16 hours a day for little to no pay.
Domestic workers may be U.S. citizens, undocumented immigrants, or foreign nationals with specific visas types. The following visa types are common: A-3, G-5, NATO-7 or B-1. Victims of domestic servitude in the U.S. are most often foreign national women with or without documentation living in the home of their employer. Men and boys may also be victims, but these cases are less common.
Exclusion from certain labor laws – Domestic work is particularly vulnerable to exploitation due to their exclusion from federal laws governing overtime pay, a safe and healthy work environment, workplace discrimination, and the right to organize and bargain collectively. Recently, some states have stepped in to cover gaps, passing domestic workers’ rights laws.
ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is inflicting terror and pain across the Middle East and the rest of the world. It also advocates that all non-Muslim women and girls are considered war booty and can be taken as sex slaves. Using social media and mobile phone apps, ISIS promotes “slave bazaars” to buy, trade, and sell women and girls.
ISIS Price List for Sex Slaves:
The Research and Fatwa Department of ISIS released a pamphlet on sex slaves, dated Muharram 1436 (October/November 2014), and published by the Al-Himma Library, Su’al wa-Jawab fi al-Sabi wa-Riqab (“Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves”) to clarify what Islamic law teaches about sex slaves. Thanks to MEMRI, a human rights organization, an English translation was made available. In it, the pamphlet instructs ISIS fighters to beat and trade all non-Muslim women and girls. The following are excerpts that were posted on Twitter:
According to the ILO’s Forced Labor Convention, forced or compulsory labor is all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily. Forced labor can include forced sexual services.
Globally, the U.N. estimates that roughly 18 percent of the world’s slaves work in manual labor or service industries. Roughly 3 out of every 1,000 people worldwide are forced into labor at any given time.
Of the estimated 22 million people in forced labor, 18.7 million (90%) are exploited in private economies, by individuals or private enterprises.
Labor-trafficked victims are lured into working under horrific conditions by first believing they are being transported for a high-paying job or educational or travel opportunity. Instead, they arrived to work long hours for little-to-no pay under duress, primarily in the agricultural, catering and restaurant, construction, domestic work, entertainment, garment and textile sweatshop, and sex industries. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that there are 14.2 million people trapped in forced labor in agricultural, construction, domestic work and manufacturing jobs alone– worldwide.
Facts and figures
•Almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour – 11.4 million of them are women and girls
•Almost 19 million victims are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over 2 million by the state or rebel groups.
•Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.
•Forced labour in the private economy generates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits per year.
• Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most concerned.
• Migrant workers and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to forced labour.
The Trafficking Resources Center explains that labor trafficking may be distinguished from other forms of labor exploitation by applying the Action + Means + Purpose Model. Human trafficking occurs when a trafficker takes any one of the enumerated actions, and then employs the means of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of compelling the victim to provide commercial sex acts or labor or services.At a minimum, one element from each column must be present to establish a potential situation of human trafficking. The presence of force, fraud or coercion indicates that the victim has not consented of his or her own free will.(2)
Trafficking victims are traded and sold among multiple traffickers, eventually ending up much further from their country of origin. Trafficked victims are often transported through multiple countries before arriving at their final destination.
Bride Abductions, slave bazaars, and arranged marriage swaps in which girls have no other option to be traded other than death. This includes selling a girl to pay a debt. In many developing countries, parents are forced to give one or more of their children for the rest of their family to survive. Child brides in Yemen can fetch several thousand dollars, providing enough income for the family to live for a few years.
Women and girls primarily from Asia, former Soviet states, and the Caucuses are offered well-paying employment opportunities in western countries; lured by offers of legitimate and legal work as shop assistants, waitresses, models, nannies, or dancers. In some cases, traffickers operate under the guise of agencies offering full-service cross-country dating services. Others are promised marriage or educational opportunities. Still others, are tricked into being trafficked by their boyfriends, friends, neighbors or parents– for financial profit.
In most instances, a woman or girl’s transportation is paid for, as are papers for her “living arrangements” and employment. Once the woman or girl arrives to her destination, she is abused, threatened, and sold in the sex industry. She is often informed that she is in debt to her trafficker for recruiting, transporting, and keeping her safe from authorities in a country she has illegally entered. The trafficked victim is told she will be “free” once the debt is paid off.
The terrorist group, ISIS, best exemplifies how free women and girls become sex slaves. In war-torn countries many families are forced to sell their daughters as “protection money” from insurgents. Non-Muslims girls are sold at slave bazaars to the highest bidder. Women and girls are sold via the Internet or through catalogues. Buyers chose which woman or girl they want from an inventory list of photos and basic information.
WORLDWIDE EFFECTS OF TRAFFICKING
Sex-trafficking creates innumerable negative consequences for societies worldwide. Individuals and societies are damaged socially, culturally, and economically, as every aspect of slavery touches every aspect of the daily lives of non-slaves.
The tragedy of human trafficking is that 99 percent of victims are never rescued. The one percent who do survive must learn how to create a new identity, build their self-worth and self-esteem, live safely without fear, and gain skills to become self-sufficient. This is exceptionally difficult for women and girls who were trapped in cycles of sexual violence and assault.
Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for the trafficked individual. Victims may suffer from long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, malnutrition and social ostracism.
Child sex-slaves face challenges when they ask for help, try to escape, and/or are rescued. Some child survivors are first arrested and treated as delinquents. Some societal norms make it impossible for children to live a “normal life.” Many believe they have no options other than to continue in prostitution. In many cultures, children – especially violated girls – are seen as outcasts by their family and community, because they are marked as “tainted.”
Child survivors are often isolated, intimidated, sold into debt bondage and subject to physical and sexual assault by their traffickers. Most live under constant mental and physical threat. Many suffer severe emotional trauma, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and disassociation. Many become pregnant and are forced to undergo often unsafe abortions.
Besides the obvious human and legal rights violations of the victims, human trafficking creates a negative impact on the world economy from the sheer loss of human and social capital. Loss of knowledge, educational processes and capacity for human development is lost for millions of victims who otherwise could have contributed to societal advancement, including educational, scientific or medical research.
The number of convictions of human traffickers is incomparable to the problem. In some cases, low conviction rates result from the absence of anti-trafficking legislation in some countries. Or, legislation exists, but law enforcement officials are not adequately equipped or trained to investigate and pursue offenders. Other times, victims may be unwilling or too afraid to cooperate because of threats they’ve received from traffickers. In many cases, widespread corruption enables human trafficking to perpetuate; law enforcement or customs officials play an integral role in the criminal enterprise of trafficking and are paid handsomely to turn a blind eye.
Traffickers often buy children from family members and close friends. Depending on the child, their price tag can exceed several hundred to a few thousand dollars. Children are then sold to individuals, businesses, and groups in various industries, primarily the sex tourism industry. Once they are bought, children are forced to perform a range of sex acts against their will, repeatedly, on a daily basis.
Online predators and traffickers find the most insecure, vulnerable and desperate children to manipulate and dominate, from whom they can continuously sell and profit. Most traffickers are the same nationality as their victims.
Culprits who target, deceive, steal, or force people into forced labor include recruiters, contractors, and sometimes employers. They generally use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, or other forms of coercion to trap victims into a cycle of working against their will in many different industries. Labor traffickers lure victims through offers of false employment or educational opportunities, or through sheer force and/or threats to harm a victim’s family member if they don’t comply.
Article III of the U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons identifies three key aspects of trafficking: the act, means, and purpose:
Slavery is not by any means a new problem for the world. Some of the earliest references to slavery is during the 18th Century BC Babylon Era. Slaves during the time were allowed to own property but their slave status had more to do with their legal status than anything else.
Most of the slaves were Babylonians of the same race and nationality as their masters, spoke the same language, and worshipped the same gods. The slave was regarded as a member of the family and was educated at the same level, so many slaves were skilled artisans and even had literary or scientific knowledge. Many times slaves were adopted by their owners and thus became free citizens. The lines separating slavery and freedom were fuzzy anyway, since a man or a woman could sell themselves to settle a debt, and later acquire their freedom by various means. Parents could sell their children, and in certain circumstances brothers could sell their sisters if they were minors and the parents were dead. (1)
Slaves in Greece from the 7th century BC
Both the leading states of Greece – Sparta and Athens – depend entirely upon forced labour, though the system in Sparta is more properly described as serfdom rather than slavery. The distinction is that the helots of Sparta are a conquered people, living on their own hereditary land but forced to work it for their Spartan masters. Their existence is a traditional rural one to which certain rights remain attached.
The slaves of Athens, by contrast, have no conventional rights. But their condition varies greatly according to the work they do.
The most unfortunate Athenian slaves are the miners, who are driven often to the point of death by their owners (the mines are state-owned but are leased to private managers). By contrast other categories of slaves – particularly those owned directly by the state, such as the 300 Scythian archers who provide the police force of Athens – can acquire a certain prestige.
The majority of Athenian slaves are domestic servants. Their fortune depends entirely on the relationship they develop with their owners. Often it is close, with female slaves looking after the children or acting as concubines, or a male slave running the household as a steward.
No free Athenian works in a domestic capacity, for it is considered shameful to be another man’s servant. This inhibition applies equally to a subsidiary position in any form of business.
As a result male slaves in Athens do all work of a secretarial or managerial nature, for in these contexts they are unmistakably somebody else’s personal assistant. Such jobs include positions of influence in fields such as banking and commerce. (2)
Records of slavery are also found from Rome and the Middle Ages all the way to the slave trade in Europe and the Americas. By this time slaves were from all over the world. Slaves were also people who were sold to cover debt, prisoners of war and those simply sold by their families to for monetary gain.
Slavery today remains a huge problem at conservative estimates of the number of slaves around the world being around 25 million people and more reasonable estimates at over 36 million people.
In the United States, you can call the following:
1 (888) 373-7888
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
The U.S. Department of State lists the following 15 steps you can take to help fight Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking Indicators
While not an exhaustive list, these are some key red flags that could alert you to a potential trafficking situation that should be reported according to the U.S. Department Of State:
•Living with employer
•Poor living conditions
•Multiple people in cramped space
•Inability to speak to individual alone
•Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
•Employer is holding identity documents
•Signs of physical abuse
•Submissive or fearful
•Unpaid or paid very little
•Under 18 and in prostitution
If you see or hear anything suspicious, always call 911. It is better to be wrong than it is to miss an opportunity to help someone
The Trafficking Resources Center lists states that if you feel like you may be in a trafficking situation, please consider how to plan for your safety. Below are some basic safety tips. If you would like to discuss creating a safety plan, contact the hotline for help at 1-888-373-7888.
Trust your judgment. If a situation/individual makes you uncomfortable, trust that feeling.
•Keep all important documents and identification in your possession at all times.
•Keep important numbers on your person at all times, including the number of someone you feel safe contacting if you are in trouble.
•Make sure that you have a means of communication (cell phone, phone card), access to your bank account, and any medication that you might need with you at all times. Have an extra phone charger on you.
•Document any unwanted contact by your trafficker (calls, texts, emails, showing up at your work/home) and save any voicemails/texts/emails that are threatening in nature.
•Have a special signal (lights flicking on and off, code word, code text message, etc.) to use with a trusted friend/relative/neighbor to notify them that you are in danger or a person/situation is suspicious.
•If you are ever in immediate danger, the quickest way to access help is to call 911.
A promising campaign launched on public transport in Manchester encouraging people to look out for signs of child abuse and report anything suspicious to the police or public transport staff. Manchester is part of a great northern conurbation which includes many of the sites of widespread grooming for sexual exploitation by gangs. The It’s Not Okay campaign is a […]
ISIS has taken thousands of girls and women to sell as sex slaves in just the last few years. And with continued revenue streams, ISIS has leveraged social media outlets to profit from sex-trafficking of women and girls. Accounts of using Facebook and Twitter, even mobile phone apps, continue to be reported of ISIS’s latest […]
The Glory House of Miami is a Christ-centered non-profit organization devoted to healing and restoring the lives of those who have suffered the abuse and exploitation of sex trafficking. In August of 2011 our eyes were opened to the sex trafficking industry and the shocking truth that the trade is thriving in our own backyard. Around the world, approximately 27 million men, women, and children are enslaved and trafficked. Florida is commonly cited along with New York and California as being one of the top destinations for trafficking victims in the United States, but in Miami alone, $235M is generated through the exploitation of captive adults and children. These facts hung heavy in our hearts, and our mission became to provide a safe home and healing environment where rescued victims will regain their freedom and health, and where they can become wholly restored through a faith-based approach. The Glory House of Miami provides long-term service to rescued female victims between the ages of 18-25 years. Sister Fa With all her heart, Sister Fa stands up for the fight against female genital cutting. The wish to sensitize the population of her home country was the origin of her Education sans Excision (Education without Cutting) project. Since 2008 she tours every year very successful with her band through Senegal. In cooperation with NGO’s like Tostan, Orchid Project and World Vision she achieved beside many other things, that the inhabitants of her home village Thionck Essyl now officially abandoned this practice of cutting the young girls. Freedom Prize For her tireless work to better the situation of the woman and girls in her homeland Senegal, Freedom To Create awarded Sister Fa in November 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa with the main prize.
Every person should be free Exodus Cry is built on a foundation of prayer and is committed to abolishing sex slavery through Christ-centered prevention, intervention, and holistic restoration of trafficking victims. Exodus Cry was birthed out of the 24/7 prayer room at the International House of Prayer Mission Base of Kansas City, when Senior Leader Benjamin Nolot was stirred to pioneer an organization that would combine prayer and practical ministry to see sex trafficking and slavery ended around the world. The International House of Prayer supports and partners with Exodus Cry’s pursuit to abolish sex slavery through Christ-centered prevention, intervention, and holistic restoration for trafficking victims.
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