When we've put in a long day at work, it feels good to shut down the computer, park the machinery, shut off the lights, grab the lunch kit and coat and go home. It is difficult for us to understand that many people do not share in this luxury. Trafficking victims are often warehoused or emprisoned in their places of forced labour. They cannot leave, cannot escape and most certainly cannot expect help from fellow victims or traffickers. Deliberatre isolation and transience on the part of traffickers keeps victims in a perpetual state of confusion, fear and paranoia.
The term "slavery" instantly connotes evil images – chains, dirt, lashed backs and limbs. In many cases, these ideas are not far from the truth. In other cases, the truth is far worse. However, rather than leaving these concepts to the imagination, here are some grounded definitions that might help you understand the complex web that is modern-day slavery.
Human Trafficking: The recruitment/transportation/harbouring/transferring/receiving of individuals through threats/coercion/abduction/fraud/deceit/deception/abuse of power for the purposes of prostitution/pornography/sexual exploitation/forced labour/involuntary servitude/debt bondage/similar slavery practices.
In order to qualify as a case of "trafficking", all 3 components (the PROCESS, the METHOD, and the GOAL) must be present. The differences between sex trafficking and prostitution will be addressed in another post.
Debt Bondage: "Debt" incurred through victims' travel costs, immgration/passport/visa costs, new clothes, food, shelter, drugs or any products/services-in-kind that payment is required for by traffickers. Even if victims are offered a wage of sorts, that wage is either garnished or deliberately kept low or witheld all for the sake of paying down the debt. For many, it would take years to pay off such exorbitant fees but most are unable to so do.
Generational Slavery: Children born into involuntary servitude or debt bondage who are owned by the families' employers or traffickers. Reasons for this could be the inability of parents to pay off their debts, cultural norms/social strata labelling segments of society as "the slave class", or a means for traffickers to control their slaves through psychological warfare.
Forced Labour: Workloads and duties placed upon people against their wills through use of coercion, fraud, deception or deceit. Refusal to cooperate often results in violence.
Sexual slavery: The selling of sexual services using people (mostly women and children) against their wills. Such services can be found in bars, massage parlours, pornography studios, modelling/escort agencies, homes, religious institutions, brothels… anywhere where there is demand, there can be found sexual slavery.
Child Labour: Kidnapping, selling/buying or otherwise using children for any labour or service (legal or illegal) that poses a threat their safety, well being, family and community. An example of this would be the child exploitation taking place on cocao plantations in Cote D'Ivoire.
International Trafficking: Trafficking that occurs over national borders
Domestic Trafficking: Trafficking that occurs within a country
- Human trafficking has an annual global market worth $42.5 billion
- 70% of trafficking victims are exploited sexually
- 30% are victims of labour exploitation
- 80% of victims are female
- 50% of victims are children
(Stats from the UN Office of Drugs and Crime and the Council of Europe)