Human Trafficking

Of the approximately 21 million people worldwide who are victims of human trafficking, more than half are female. Women and girls are forced into all types of slavery. Women and girls are especially targeted by traffickers who prey on their vulnerability and circumstances. Women and girls who fall victim to trafficking are subjected to physical violence, imprisonment, threats, sexual assault, and deprivation of their basic needs.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Human Trafficking is the most lucrative illicit business in Europe. Human Trafficking includes forced labour, domestic servitude, forced marriage, organ removal, exploitation of children in begging, the sex trade, and warfare. Sexual exploitation is the most commonly identified form of human trafficking, comprising 79% of all known cases. 

Trafficking victims are most often transported over international borders from supply countries into demand countries, making it more difficult to trace and convict traffickers. Sadly, most countries’ conviction rates of traffickers does not exceed 1.5 per 100 000 offences and in many countries there is little to no anti-trafficking legislation at all. This is partly because often, victims are not identified as victims, rather treated as persons who have violated migration, labour, and or prostitution laws. This leads to victims being persecuted by the law, sent home where they are vulnerable to re-trafficking, or being too afraid to seek help for fear of the consequences. Another reason trafficking persists so strongly is because often, even in first world countries, law enforcement officials are customers of traffickers who receive protection from them. 

The International Justice Mission estimates that Human Trafficking generates approximately $150 billion each year – ⅔ of this is generated through sex trafficking. Impoverished women and girls are most vulnerable to trafficking because the desperation of their economic situations causes them to be more willing to take risks such as accepting an offer for a probable fraudulent job or insincere marriage proposal. Once they have been trafficked, victims find themselves in a vicious cycle of violence as a constant threat and an inability to escape due to a constant fear for their lives. Human trafficking is most common in countries that have weak justice systems, where traffickers know that they are unlikely to ever face any serious consequences for their actions.

Organization : International Justice Mission (IJM)

IJM works to combat sex trafficking in latin America, South Asia, and East Asia by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors, and working to strengthen justice systems. They are committed to relentlessly fighting injustice because “For poor people in the developing world, violence is relentless.” You can see and support their work at www.ijm.org.

Organization: Dressember

Dressember is a movement using fashion and creativity to fight for the dignity of all women. Dressember aims to inspire and empower a global community to lock arms to fight human trafficking. It is one of the simplest ways the average justice seeker can make a difference. Learn more about what they are doing at www.dressember.org.

Organization: [Free-Them]

[Free-Them] is an organization in Toronto, Ontario that is working towards ending human trafficking in our lifetime. They are creating campaigns and providing people with the tools that they can use to end slavery. You can see and support their work at  www.freethem.ca

Book: Sex, Power and Slavery by Gwyn Campbell and Elizabeth Elbourne

“The trafficked women or children are physically secluded and forced into sexual exploitation, pornography, prostitution, or sex tourism. Their earnings, if any, are taken by their owners as payment for their recruitment, travel, accommodation, and upkeep costs, with only a small allowance returned to them… Many women are aware that they will be prostitutes but are unaware of the appalling conditions that they will work in, conditions that result in the loss of their independence and dignity. Other women are tricked into trade-by family members, friends, or recruiters-with false promises of better life elsewhere.” 

Campbell and Elbourne’s book looks at “the vexed, traumatic intersections of the histories of slavery and of sexuality”. Taking a scholarly stance so as to truly understand the historical, social and political complexities of why such an inhumane practice has persisted for so long, they argue that “slavery cannot be understood without adequate attention to sexuality”.