Human trafficking is the world’s fastest growing unlawful industry. This year it is predicted to surpass the illegal drug trade, making it the world’s leading criminal activity.
So say articles by Evens Sanon, Jonathan Katz and Megan McAdams in The Progress Report http://www.progress.org/2009/slavers.htm.
The United Nations defines human 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 purpose of exploitation.”
That boils down to recruiting (or capturing), retaining and selling people by force.
The business of selling human beings generates about $32 billion in revenue each year. Between 600,000 and 800,000 people are sold annually, most of them women and children.
Two countries close to the United States are notorious for enslaving human beings: Haiti and Mexico.
In Haiti poverty has forced at least 225,000 children into slavery as unpaid household servants. Known as restavek—Haitian Creole for “stays with”—these children are usually sent by parents who can’t afford to care for them to families just a bit better off.
A Pan American Development Foundation report said some of those children—mostly young girls—suffer sexual, psychological, and physical abuse while toiling in extreme hardship. Just some?
Last December, Mexico City police freed 107 people forced to manufacture shopping bags and clothespins under “slave-like” circumstances while starving on a diet of chicken feet and rotten vegetables.
Victims in developing countries—particularly in the Asia Pacific region—are susceptible to traffickers’ offers of financial success in a developed country. They typically pass through a transit country before arriving at the destination country where they are exploited for sex or labor. Deception, force and terror are employed at each step along the way.
Alleviating poverty is the best way to eliminate human trafficking. Poverty forces individuals, frantically trying to provide for their families, to seek employment in developed countries. Healthy, employed, educated people do not become prey to traffickers’ false promises.