Term Paper: Combatting Human Trafficking Woman and Children

Pages: 6 (2034 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Government  ·  Buy This Paper

Human Trafficking

The problem of human trafficking, in general, and regarding women and children is a global human rights issue that has received considerable worldwide support for a number of years. As inhumane as the concept may be, it affects every society throughout the world whether developed or developing. The present day movement toward open borders tends to perpetuate the problem and, as a result, it is essential that a multi-national approach toward combating human trafficking is essential in the effort to combat the problem.

As hard as may be to imagine, the problem of human trafficking is a serious international concern. The uninformed may believe that slavery no longer exists in the world but, in fact, it is flourishing. Within the past ten years, human trafficking has increased substantially and has actually reached unprecedented levels (Bales, 2004).

The United Nations, not unexpectedly, has been on the forefront in the attempts to combat the practice of human trafficking. In its efforts, the United Nations has estimated that the number of women and children that become victims of human trafficking every year is about 4 million (United Nations, 2007). The industry that has developed around the practice of human trafficking is highly profitable. Experts report that there are presently more slaves today in the world, estimated at 27 million individuals, than at any time in human history (Polaris Project, 2007).

In addressing the human trafficking problem the United Nations has defined the practice as being composed of three main elements (United Nations, 2000):

1) It involves the "transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons,"

2) Said actions must be accomplished through certain "means or mechanisms" such as force, coercion, kidnapping, and/or deception,

3) Actions must occur solely for sexual exploitation, prostitution, and/or debt bondage.

In its simplest form, human trafficking occurs as organized crime units tempt women and children, through a system of deception, with promises that they can offer the victims better lives. The victims are offered jobs and housing. The jobs offered are usually legitimate positions in hotels and restaurants. Unfortunately, once the women and children lured by these job possibilities arrive in their destination the positions are of a much different nature. The victims are quickly brought to brothels and massage parlors and forced into prostitution; forced to work long hours in dismal factories; or harvesting produce under the hot baking sun. All this is done in the name of greed without any consideration for the human rights of the victims. What is more, these individuals are provided nearly no legal protections once there working conditions are discovered and, too often, returned to the same conditions that caused them to be victimized in the first place. Therein, lies the essence of the problem.

Literature Review

There is no shortage of literature addressing the human trafficking situation. As globalization has increased, the problem has become a paramount concern for a great number of international organizations. Many of these organizations are only remotely connected to the victims of human trafficking but the problem is so serious as to require an effort by everyone to eradicate it. The European Union, the World Trade Organization, and UNESCO are just a few of the organizations that have formulated official policies relative to the issue. Despite the almost universal criticism of the practice, few advances have been made relative to eliminating it. In addition to the problem being addressed in policy statements by international organizations, the problem has also been addressed in the international press and worldwide in professional journals.

One example of how professionals in a variety of fields have involved themselves in the human trafficking problem is an insightful article by attorney Stephanie Hepburn and Professor Rita Simon (Hepburn, 2010). Both women have been actively engaged in the human rights field and lectured on the issue of human trafficking and are preparing a book detailing their experiences with the problem. In their article the authors examine the issue of human trafficking and how it is a worldwide problem but one that has individualized aspects that are characterized by the specific culture in which it is occurring. Although they examine the problem with an eye toward how it is affecting human rights on an international scale, their specific focus is on the problem as it presents itself in the United States. The article provides a variety of interesting insights but it is particularly valuable in that it pinpoints how and why trafficking is being practiced. It also argues how present policy considerations are hampering the strict enforcement of human trafficking in the United States and how these same policies are actually the victims of trafficking as the criminals and not the victims.

The article written by Ms. Hepburn and Ms. Simon examined human trafficking from the humanistic point-of-view. In doing so, pragmatism and economics was largely ignored. Their focus was on the human factors involved. Taking a different approach, two lawyers, Amanda Walker-Rodriquez and Rodney Hill, wrote an article on human trafficking that examines how it impacts on law enforcement (Walker-Rodriquez, 2011). Both authors are prosecuting attorneys in Baltimore County, Maryland and members of the Maryland State human trafficking task force. They address the issue of human trafficking from the aspect of how it affects law enforcement in their particular jurisdiction. They make it very clear that human trafficking situations present the justice system with unique and sensitive issues that are often beyond the capacity of the system to handle. The article also gives a brief glimpse into how structurally the United States is attempting to address the human trafficking problem in an integrated fashion.

No less prestigious publication than the New York Times has provided coverage to the problem of human trafficking. In a recent article, the Times disclosed how pervasive human trafficking is and how otherwise legitimate organizations and businesses contribute to the problem (The Associated Press, 2011). The article details how the federal government's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is pursuing action against a California labor contractor who was allegedly using human trafficking victims to work on farms owned by some of the largest U.S. food manufacturers. In providing this coverage the New York Times and the Associated Press demonstrate how wide spread human trafficking is and that it involves not only traditional areas such as drugs and prostitution but also more legitimate businesses such as farming.

Discussion

In reviewing the literature on the subject of human trafficking it becomes clear that human trafficking is far more prevalent than anyone imagined. Due to the nature of the problem it is understandable how this can happen. The areas in which human trafficking most commonly occurs are, by their very nature, not areas that most mainstream citizens have much contact. Trafficking victims are generally funneled through industries such as prostitution, food and home care services, garment making, and agriculture. In these industries the identity of the victims is easily disguised and the lack of effective law enforcement has essentially allowed the system to prosper and expand.

On the international stage human trafficking has been afforded considerable attention and there has been lip service paid toward an effort to curtail it, yet, instead of decreasing the problem continues to proliferate. One of the reasons for this is generalized indifference toward the victims. Women and children are the general victims and, in most societies, they continue to enjoy marginal power and influence. As a result, the problem tends to fly under the radar of society in general and law enforcement officials specifically. Another problem is that what law enforcement there is tends to be directed at the victims and not toward those organizing the human trafficking operations or the businesses profiting from the use of trafficking. Take, for example, the enforcement efforts by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). ICE is the largest agency entrusted with the control of human trafficking in the United States, yet, far too much of their time and available resources are directed toward other problems. Too often, because of political pressures, their emphasis is on the enforcement of the immigration issues related to human trafficking and not on the human factors. The children and women who have exploited by human trafficking are victims but they are treated by the system as illegal aliens even though their illegal alien status was not created by their own design. ICE finds itself addressing the illegal immigrant status of the victims and ignoring the inhumane way that they have treated. This is a problem that is not limited to human trafficking in the U.S. It is an international problem.

Human trafficking is indeed an international problem but the level of cooperation between affected nations is minimal. Conflicting laws and attitudes allow human trafficking operatives to exploit the situation. These operatives are aware that these conflicts and attitudes exist and use them to their full advantage. Until such time as efforts between nations can be coordinated those profiting from the human trafficking industry will continue to exploit the situation.

The other problem that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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