Human Trafficking: High profit – low risk business or homicide of Humanity

December 28, 2012
A group of Bangladeshi women who were illegally taken into India was forced into prostitution in the Indian cities of Mumbai and Pune, BBC revealed. All of these people were transported away from the communities in which they lived and forcing them to work against their will using violence, deception or coercion. People are trafficked both between countries and within the borders of a state for the purpose of labour or sexual exploitation. This begins when they arrive at the destination and always involves violence, deception or coercion.The vast majority or people who are trafficked are migrant workers. They are seeking to escape poverty and discrimination, improve their lives and send money back to their families. They hear about well-paying jobs abroad through family, friends or “recruitment agencies”. But when they
arrive in the country of destination they find that the work they were promised does not exist and they are forced instead to work in jobs or conditions to which they did not agree.

Poverty, gender-based discrimination and a history of sexual and physical violence are all factors that can make women and children vulnerable to traffickers. Some are abducted and sold, some are deceived into consenting by the promise of a better life or a better job, and some feel
that entrusting themselves to traffickers is the only economically viable option. Once trapped, they are held and exploited in slavery-like conditions.

Pakhi (22) trafficked to a bustling brothel of Bangladesh by his family member. “I was married for four years but my husband was crazy so I ran away. When I moved back in with my parents my uncle took me to Dhaka. He told me he was going to enrol me in a dance school but instead he sold
me to a madame.”

The list of traffickers and exploiters is endless and it crosses the borders. It is indeed a “high profit – low risk business”. Very often, victims remain un-noticed, un-cared for and their concerns not addressed. People are often not concerned because they are unaware of the extent, dimensions and implications of Human Trafficking.

Louisiana (26) was a victim of human trafficking. She saw an advert for cleaning and waitressing jobs in the UK, and travelled to England with
a man from the job agency. ”I had my own passport. But when we arrived he took my passport away and told me I had to work as a prostitute. He said I owed him money for
the travel and I would pay him back this way.”

Jiera (19) was a victim of human trafficking. “My life has been ruined… They are trafficked me into prostitution when I was 17.” What Jiera thought was going to be a holiday in London became a nightmare before she escaped with the help of a Lithuanian punter. He took her to the police but they said they couldn’t help, so he took her to the Lithuanian Embassy. From there she was referred to POPPY, who runs the UK’s only shelter for trafficked women. Finally she has taken refuge in drink and drugs.

While it is commonly believed that trafficking only takes places for commercial sexual exploitation or for forced labour, trafficking in fact takes many forms such as trafficking for forced marriage and trafficking for organ trade among others. Trafficking in organ trade is an organized crime, involving a host of offenders. “The owner of the Istanbul clinic – and its principal surgeon – was one Dr Yusuf Sonmez. So infamous in Turkey that he came to be known as Dr Frankenstein, Sonmez often boasts that he has carried out over 4,000 kidney transplants from live donors. During this particular raid, the police found an Israeli and a South African recipient. They had each paid more than $200,000 for their new kidney. Investigators also found the two donors, Arab-Israelis, who had been paid about $10,000 each to undergo the operation. With such sums in play, the potential profit margins for those who arrange and carry out such operations are obvious.” He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. While on bail awaiting an appeal, he disappeared again and has not been seen since.

The response to trafficking in organ trade has more or less been lacklustre. Considering the serious health implications and the severe human rights violations of the vulnerable victims, it is essential that this issue gets the desired attention.

Most international organizations and national laws indicate that children may legally engage in light work but not prohibited. By contrast, the worst forms of child labour are being targeted for eradication by nations across the globe. The sale and trafficking of children and their entrapment in bonded and forced labour are particularly hazardous types of child labour. The children were described as being victims of sexual exploitation, street crime, domestic servitude, cannabis production, forced labour and converted to religions. Children trafficking are epidemic in the developing countries but there is shocking info in developed countries as well.

A study, conducted by children’s protection organisation ECPAT UK, was asked to find an evidence base for child trafficking in Wales found that ”Children who may have been trafficked are extremely vulnerable. ”Many will have experienced at least one form of abuse, whether physical, sexual, emotional or neglect, often of an extreme nature.
“Children are raped, beaten, tortured, deprived of their basic needs and enslaved. ”They are moved from their country of origin to one or more new countries, by individuals or gangs who have tricked or deceived them.”

Whereas Article 3 of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (2000), defines trafficking as: ”the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purposes of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery or servitude or the removal of organs.”

It is very important to stop trafficking in any form. In order to stop trafficking states need to pass legislation which prohibits and punishes all forms of trafficking as defined and set out in the UN Trafficking Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

Finally, States must also recognise that these initiatives alone will not be sufficient to counter the problem of trafficking and that their policies must also address the root causes of this problem, which are closely linked to migration issues. Human Trafficking is an organized crime and one of the gravest violations of Human Rights transgressing boundaries of official jurisdictions and other man made restrictions of time and space. Governments also need to recognise that all trafficked people are victims of a human rights violation and provide them with minimum standards of protection and support. This should include appropriate shelter, financial and legal assistance, counselling, health services and temporary and permanent residence status.

By Hasan Akon