Human Trafficking

The modern slavery of  21st century is trafficking human beings and has become a global threat. It is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights, attacking the liberty, integrity and dignity of men, women and children.

What is human trafficking?

According to article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons known as Palermo Protocols adopted in 2000 by the UN General Assembly and accepted by over 150 countries:

Trafficking in Persons 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.

Human exploitation shall include, at a minimum: all forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs, immigration.

How many human beings are trafficked in the world today?

According to a September 2017 Report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Walk Free Foundation:

  • An estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery.
  • Of these, 16 million (64%) were exploited for labour, 4.8 million (19%) were sexually exploited, and 4.1 million (17%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labour.
  • 71% of trafficking victims around the world are women and girls and 29% are men and boys.
  • 15.4 million victims (75%) are aged 18 or older, with the number of children under the age of 18 estimated at 5.5 million (25%).
  • The Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest number of forced laborers— 15.4 million (62% of the global total). Africa has 5.7 million (23%) followed by Europe and Central Asia with 2.2 million (9%). The Americas account for 1.2 million (5%) and the Arab States account for 1% of all victims.
  • Human trafficking does not always involve travel to the destination of exploitation: 2.2 million (14%) of victims of forced labour moved either internally or internationally, while 3.5 million (74%) of victims of sexual exploitation were living outside their country of residence.

How many from this victims are rescued?

Sadly all reports from many governmental and nongovernmental organizations say that

just 1% of victims of human trafficking are saved


What do we know about the profit of traffickers?

  • Human trafficking takes the second place after drugs trafficking. It means that this “business” is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world.
  • Human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers, according to the ILO report from 2014. The following is a breakdown of profits, by sector.
    • $99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation
    • $34 billion in construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities
    • $9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing
    • $8 billion dollars is saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers under conditions of forced labour
  • While only 19% of victims are trafficked for sex, sexual exploitation earns 66% of the global profits of human trafficking. The average annual profits generated by each woman in forced sexual servitude ($100,000) is estimated to be six times more than the average profits generated by each trafficking victim worldwide ($21,800), according to the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE).
  • OSCE studies show that sexual exploitation can yield a return on investment ranging from 100% to 1,000%, while an enslaved labourer can produce more than 50% profit even in less profitable markets (e.g., agricultural labour in India).
  • In the Netherlands, investigators were able to calculate the profit generated by two sex traffickers from a number of victims. One trafficker earned $18,148 per month from four victims (for a total of $127,036) while the second trafficker earned $295,786 in the 14 months that three women were sexually exploited according to the OSCE.

What are the characteristics of trafficking in human beings?

  • Trafficking in human beings is the modern slavery of 21th century and it includes slavery, forced labour, abuse of trust, physical and psychological aggression, violence.
  • Economical aspects of trafficking in human beings imply: huge profits, regional and international networking, illicit circulation of money such as money laundering.
  • As phenomenon the traffic is generated and sustained by the next factors: spiritual poverty, accentuating poverty of victims, migration, poor educational level, lack of self-confidence, failures in life, adventurous spirit, the desire for quick enrichment, etc.
  • From the perspective of social values trafficked persons are reduced to merchandise level; they are gradually dehumanized, suffering traumas sometimes for the entire life.
  • The purpose of traffickers is to carry out criminal activities continually because it generates huge profits for them.

Classification of trafficking in human beings

Sexual exploitation – happens when someone uses force, violence, fraud or coercion to obligate a child, woman or man to practice commercial sex acts. Commercial sex acts include: prostitution, pornography, any sexual performance in exchange of money, drugs, shelter, food, clothes.

Forced labour – represents any work or service which people are forced to do against their will, under threat of punishment without pay or a little.

In 1930 the International Labour Organization said “Forced or compulsory labour is all work or service which is expected from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or offered himself voluntarily.”

Bonded labour – is a person’s pledge of labour or services as security for the repayment of a debt or other obligation. The services required to repay the debt may be undefined, and the services’ duration may be undefined. Debt bondage can be passed on from generation to generation.

Domestic involuntary servitude is the way a person is forced to live and work in the same place for very little or no pay.

Children’s exploitation – involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, housing or reception of children for the purpose of exploitation. In many cases, they are sexually exploited, including by forcing them into prostitution or other forms of sexual activity such as infantile pornography. Child exploitation may also involve slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or use of children for organ trafficking, illegal adoption, early marriage, military recruitment (child soldiers), or begging.

Organs trafficking – The 2008 Declaration of Istanbul was the first document to define organ trafficking. According to this declaration, organ trafficking is: “the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring or receipt of living or deceased persons or their organs 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 to, or the receiving by, a third party of payments or benefits to achieve the transfer of control over the potential donor, for the purpose of exploitation by the removal of organs for transplantation.”


Who are involved in trafficking?

Trafficking in human beings involves individuals and legal entities.

  • The individual entities are: recruiting agents, smugglers, accomplices from various spheres of activity, etc.
  • The legal entities are: hotels, models’ agencies, travel agencies, transport companies, video production and distribution companies of DVDs, publishers, sex-shops, companies that offer striptease shows, massage parlour, karaoke bars, etc.

Who are the traffickers?

  • Traffickers come from all of life and socio-economic backgrounds.
  • They can be men or women, or even teens or college students. Traffickers include family members, friends, boyfriends, strangers, and acquaintances. In general the trafficking is being run by gangs and organized crime, small groups and occasional traffickers.

How they recruit victims

Traffickers use different ways to recruit their victims:

  • lure victims with false promises of jobs, such as modelling, dancing, etc.
  • sale by family
  • Loverboy or Romeo pimp – pretend to romance victims, then force or manipulate them into prostitution
  • kidnap and beat victims into submission until they agree to have sex with strangers. These pimps are the most violent and brutal pimps
  • introducing them to drugs and/or alcohol, then forcing them into prostitution
  • abduction
  • false immigration – false documents, fake marriage
  • trafficked by friend or family
  • recruitment through former slaves or former victims of any kind of trafficking
  • other

Where find traffickers the victims?

  • Social network
  • Home neighbourhood
  • Clubs, bars or disco
  • Internet
  • School

Traffickers use violence, fear, threats, intimidation to ensure compliance and meet demand.

Who are the victims?

The victims of human trafficking can be divided in three categories:

  1. Children under the age of 18 – lured into commercial sex.
  2. Children and adults induced to perform labour or service through force, fraud or coercion.
  3. Adults – age 18 or over – induced into commercial sex trough force, violence, fraud and coercion.

So the victims are women, men, children, youth, those foreign to a nation and a country’s own citizens.

The background of victims

While there isn’t one face of a human trafficking victim, certain populations are more vulnerable, including runaway and homeless youth, children and youth in foster care/orphanages, individuals fleeing violence/war or natural disasters, individuals with a disability, and those who have suffered other types of abuse or exploitation in their lifetimes.

 The background of victims can be classified according to the abusive nature of the acts performed on them.

There are three aspects underlying the profile of a trafficked person:

  1. Social Aspect – psychological and/or physical abuse, sexual abuse (mostly by a family member) and/or rape, lack of decision-making power, supervision to prevent the movement or free movement of victims, lack of access to the medical services, the obligation to consume alcohol and/or drugs, forced abortion, malnutrition, forcing the victim to recruit in turn relatives or friends.
  2. Legal aspects – dispossession of identity papers, possession and use of false documents, threats of surrender to the police (in the case of illegal migration).
  3. Economic aspect – is aimed at the debt burden on retention of undue payments.