Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

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In the first quarter of the 21st Century                                                               

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The Economics of Human Trafficking

Baylee Molloy, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, 12 April 2016

[accessed 19 November 2017]

According to International Justice Mission (IJM), There are an estimated 35.9 million people held in slavery today. Children represent an estimated 26% of all forced labor victims.

The Asian Philanthropy Forum published results from a recent study by Dasra, a strategic philanthropy foundation, that gives one reason for human trafficking’s persistence:

The reason why sex trafficking persists is straightforward: immense profitability with minimal risk. A net profit margin of over 70 percent makes sex trafficking one of the most profitable businesses in the world. It is becoming increasingly easy and inexpensive to procure, move and exploit vulnerable girls.

This is true of all forced labor as well: high profits, low risk. The demand for cheap labor in order to accrue high profits keeps this economic machine running. Paired with little risk of criminal prosecution, this makes human trafficking a lucrative business to enter.

Poverty, unemployment in Africa, major causes of migration among youth — Catholic Nun

Damian Avevor, Modern Ghana, 9 June 2021

[accessed 10 June 2021]

On trafficking of women from West Africa to the European countries for sexual exploitation, Sr. Monica noted that it shows “the existence of organized crime groups from West Africa highly networked which embrace exploiters, facilitators, trafficked women handed over to the forced prostitution market, money launderers, and persons involved in the forging of travel documents and Visas.”

“After being recruited in their home countries, the victims are trafficked to Europe and sent to work in brothels or in the street with forged identity documents,” she stated.

According to the OLA Sister, “traffickers use voodoo rituals, which are commonly practiced in West Africa, as an effective means of exerting pressure on their victims, to intimidate them, and ensure obedience.”

This practice, she pointed out enables the perpetrators to make the exploited women paying off their debts (which can be up to 60,000 Euros) incurred as a result of their trafficking to Europe.

“Trafficked Africans transiting through Libya face insecurity, extortion and inhumane treatment meted out by their slave masters, she said, stating: “According to International Organization for Migration (IOM), the trade in human beings, mostly of West African descent, has become like every other regular business where people are being traded in public like goods, as was the case during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade (Modern Day Slavery).”

Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2022

Crime Research Section, Research and Trend Analysis Branch, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, January 2023

[accessed 14 February 2023]

The 2022 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons is the seventh of its kind mandated by the General Assembly through the 2010 United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. This edition of the Global Report provides a snapshot of the trafficking patterns and flows detected during the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers 141 countries and provides an overview of the response to the trafficking in persons at global, regional and national levels, by analysing trafficking cases detected between 2018 and 2021. A major focus of this edition of the Report is on trends of detections and convictions that show important changes compared to historical trends since UNODC started to collect data in 2003.

We Don’t Need Heroes — Narratives Around Human Trafficking Survivors

Roop Sen, India Development Review, 2 November 2020

[accessed 2 November 2020]

In 2010, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued directives to state governments to form AHTUs (anti-human trafficking units)—specialised investigation cells which could build an organised response to the crime and focus on cases of trafficking, rather than penalising sex workers or any other group of workers. But a 2020 report AHTU Watch by Sanjog reveals that less than 10 percent of these AHTUs are functional.

The anti-trafficking ecosystem would be better served if activists, funders, media, law enforcement, and survivor federations (like ILFAT) were to push for AHTU notifications across the country, and demand performance in terms of investigations, rescue, and prosecution.

It serves survivors best when organisations and activists play the role of facilitator to the survivor and stimulator of the system. Community-based rehabilitation models where we assist survivors to claim welfare, health, and financial rights from panchayats and district administrations, where survivors are not held in captivity and can make choices based on options, can be more empowering.

An anti-trafficking programme should be considered a success when survivors are able to assert their rights, claim their entitlements, and challenge the lack of accountability in law enforcement, social welfare, judiciary, and even nonprofits. The emerging alternative approach to the rescue-rehabilitation paradigm is one where the survivors are decision-makers, collaborators, and leaders of their own journeys.

3. Law enforcement is not your job -- Understand that the job of fighting traffickers is the police’s job. If law enforcement is not able to do this, there are systemic reasons for it, and the best way forward for an activist or organisation is to identify systemic blocks through an organised strategy.

Report to Congress: Human Trafficking in Seafood Supply Chain

Mirage.News 2020, 24 December 2020

[accessed 24 December 2020]

The fishing sector has inherently high risk for human trafficking. The work is considered hazardous and often relies heavily on a low-skilled, migrant, easily replaced workforce, vulnerable to trafficking. Fishing is also inherently isolating, with vessels sometimes spending months to years at sea, which impedes individuals’ escape from or reporting of abuse. Emotional and physical abuse, sometimes resulting in death; excessive overtime; poor living conditions; deceptive or coercive recruiting practices; and lack or underpayment of wages are examples of the abuses sustained by human trafficking victims in the fishing sector. Countries with weak legal protections for civil liberties and workers’ rights; high levels of corruption, crime, violence, political instability, poverty; and immigration policies that limit employment options or movement are at an increased risk for human trafficking. Illicit recruiters, unscrupulous vessel captains, and human traffickers exploit such conditions to perpetrate fraud, deception, and violence.

Human trafficking myths and misconceptions

Caitlin Walker, Herald Times, 7 September 2020

[accessed 8 September 2020]

MISCONCEPTION: HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS ALL ABOUT SEX -- Victims trafficked for commercial sex acts represent only 22% of the total number of trafficking victims. Labor trafficking makes up a much larger 68%, and includes forced labor in industries like agriculture, hotels, restaurants, traveling sales, domestic work, events, construction, beauty services and more. The remaining 10% is considered state-imposed trafficking, i.e. military conscription or forced labor.

Slave Trafficking Alive and Well in 21st Century

Dong-A, March 03, 2008

[accessed 20 August 2011]

In his contribution to the journal Foreign Policy, Skinner wrote how rampant human trafficking networks are around the globe, saying the world now is seeing the largest number of humans working as slaves in history.

Modern slaves are not the metaphorical expression that laborers in difficult industries use to refer to the toughness of their jobs. The term refers to more than 10 million people scattered worldwide forced to work without appropriate compensation or to repay inherited debt or at gunpoint.  According to the International Labor Organization, 12.3 million people labor under duress in the world, including an estimated 1.39 million women who work as sex slaves.

ASEAN’s human trafficking plague

The ASEAN Post Team, 16 December 2019

[accessed 16 December 2019]

The discovery of 28 abandoned human-trafficking camps and multiple unmarked mass graves in the dense jungle of Wang Kelian near the Thai-Malaysia border in May 2015 sent a shock wave through ASEAN and the rest of the world. Almost 800 victims were suspected to have been held in squalid conditions, in crudely built wooden cages and barbed wire that were too small for adults to even stand in. The discovery of a pink teddy bear and other children's items, as well as bullet casings and metal chains indicated that children were also trafficked through the area and victims may have been tortured. The remains of more than 150 victims were exhumed. Autopsies revealed stories of death by starvation and disease while waiting for ransoms from victims’ families before being smuggled into Malaysia.

In East Asia, Southeast Asia and Pacific regions, most of the approximately 2,700 victims detected during the 2012-2014 period with determined age and sex were females, including a significant number of girls especially in Southeast Asia. Aside from the high number of girls trafficked, children made up almost a third of human trafficking victims in the combined regions. More than 60 percent of human trafficking victims in these regions were trafficked for sexual exploitation, while a third were trafficked for forced labour, especially in the fishing industry in Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand. Another reason for the trafficking was domestic servitude, both within the countries of origin as well as across international borders.

For most of us, it is hard to imagine what it takes for a human trafficker to treat another person as nothing more than a commodity or property. However, the process of becoming such a cruel person for some offenders usually starts as being victims themselves. What makes it more difficult for trafficked persons to seek help is also the fact that their victimisation started with some level of consent although it was later trounced by fraud, coercion, deception, threats, and abuses including the abuse of power.

Case reveals trauma of male sex trafficking victims

Dave Collins, Associated Press AP, 15 November 2018

[accessed 23 December 2018]

A 2016 study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice that interviewed nearly 1,000 youths involved in the sex trade found 36 percent were male. About 53 percent of those victims were heterosexual, 36 percent were bisexual and 9 percent were gay, according to the study by the Center for Court Innovation and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Some reports indicate gay and transgender men and boys are more at risk for becoming sex trafficking victims. Advocates, however, say victims’ sexual orientation is irrelevant.

The case has illuminated what victims and advocates call the underreported scourge of male sex trafficking. While both male and female trafficking victims suffer trauma and other psychological scars, data suggests men and boys are less likely to come forward and when they do they are more likely to have difficulties finding counseling and other services, victims and advocates say.

Ten Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution

Prof. Janice G. Raymond, Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies and Medical Ethics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Sisyphe, 4 May 2003

[accessed 20 August 2011]

by Janice G. Raymond.  As countries are considering legalizing and decriminalizing the sex industry, this article urges you to consider the ways in which legitimating prostitution as "work" does not empower the women in prostitution but does everything to strengthen the sex industry

Prostitution: Reality Versus Myth

Hilary Sunghee Seo, The Korea Times, 2004-11-29

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 20 August 2011]

There are many myths about prostitution _ that women become rich from prostitution; that women prostitute themselves to support expensive habits; that it is a job like any other; that it could even be a harmless, part time job for college girls wanting to earn tuition; or that women do it because they like it.  These myths could not be further from the violent reality of prostitution.

Child Soldiers

Editor: John K. Roth, Ethics, Revised Edition, Claremont McKenna College, December 2004 -- ISBN: 978-1-58765-170-0,  e-ISBN: 978-1-58765-318-6

[accessed 20 August 2011]

[accessed 14 April 2019]

In 2003, an estimated 500,000 children under eighteen years of age served in the government armed forces, paramilitary forces, civil militia, and armed groups of more than eighty-five nations, and another 300,000 children were active in armed combat in more than thirty countries. Some of the children were as young as seven years of age





Background Archives


Day against human trafficking

Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland

[accessed 19 October 2020]

How to recognize the signs of human trafficking / human smuggling? - Victims of exploitation situations often show certain characteristics. Someone might be a victim of exploitation when:

he/she has to do dangerous and unhealthy work;

he/she has to work long hours;

he/she gets paid too little, doesn’t get paid at all or has to wait for their pay for a long time;

he/she can’t access their own passport;

he/she was brought to the Caribbean Netherlands under false pretenses;

he/she is being abused, blackmailed, forced or threatened;

he/she has to pay off a high debt to their employer;

he/she can’t access the money in their own bank account;

he/she is paid off the books or, for example, is not insured for casualties;

he/she lives on a business premises, or is otherwise badly housed;

he/she is not aware of their residence address;

he/she is being put under pressure in other ways;

he/she is forced to have sex against their will;

he/she is forced to have paid sex, at which they have to hand over the money to someone else.

Migrants And Their Vulnerability To Human Trafficking, Modern Slavery And Forced Labour

Luiz Philipe De Oliveira, Fiona David, Katharine Bryant, and Jacqueline Joudo Larsen, International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2019

[Long URL]

[accessed 16 February 2022]

WHERE ARE MIGRANTS MOST VULNERABLE? - Migrants are most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation in situations and places where the authority of the State and society is unable to protect them, either through lack of capacity, applicable laws or simple neglect. For example, migrants are highly vulnerable when fleeing situations of violence and conflict, where the State has effectively broken down and society itself is in crisis. Even once migrants have fled the immediate fighting, when people are on the move, this vulnerability persists while migrants are dislocated from community and family support structures, and are thereby typically without access to legitimate forms of employment, legal status and social protection. The risk is further increased when migrants move or work through irregular channels, where their irregular status puts them entirely at the mercy of opportunists who may seek to take advantage of their desperate circumstances.

Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2016

Crime Research Section, Research and Trend Analysis Branch, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 2016

[accessed 13 February 2022]

Since the last Global Report on Trafficking in Persons in 2014 there have been a number of significant developments that reinforce this report’s importance, and place it at the heart of international efforts undertaken to combat human trafficking. Perhaps the most worrying development is that the movement of refugees and migrants, the largest seen since World War II, has arguably intensified since 2014. As this crisis has unfolded, and climbed up the global agenda, there has been a corresponding recognition that, within these massive migratory movements, are vulnerable children, women and men who can be easily exploited by smugglers and traffickers.

People trafficking: upholding rights and understanding vulnerabilities

Refugee Studies Centre in association with the Norwegian Refugee Council, Forced Migration Review, May 2006

[accessed 13 February 2022]

Report reveals linkages between human trafficking and forced marriage

Newsroom, Modern Diplomacy, 9 October 2020

[accessed 9 October 2020]

The report states that marriage can be linked to all phases of human trafficking, starting with recruitment and transportation of the victim.  As with other forms of trafficking, only a small proportion of cases reach the attention of the police, and there are very few convictions.

Furthermore, women and girls usually find it difficult to seek help, for fear of stigmatization.

“Marriage is normally considered a private, family matter, which is not discussed even when domestic violence and abuse are involved,” said Ms. Albert. “The victims are also concerned about what would happen to their children, residence permits or to their homes if they report the crime.”

Basic Stages of Grooming for Sexual Exploitation

Mariah Long, 22 September 2014

[accessed 21 December 2019]

End Slavery Now lists the six stages of grooming for sexual exploitation:

1. Targeting a Victim. Traffickers target victims who have some noticeable vulnerability: emotional neediness, low self-confidence or economic stress.

2. Gaining Trust & Information. This can be done through casual conversations with the victim or parents. Traffickers often mix well with other adults.

3. Filling a Need. The information gained allows the traffickers to fill a need in the victim’s life, making the victim dependent on them in some way: buying gifts, being a friend, beginning a love relationship or buying soft drugs and alcohol.

4. Isolation. The trafficker creates time to be alone with the victim, have a major role in the victim’s life and attempts to distance the victim from friends and family.

5. Abuse Begins. The trafficker begins claiming that a service must be repaid whether money spent on cigarettes or drugs, car rides or mobile phones. In most cases, the trafficker demands sex as payment for such services.

6. Maintain Control. The trafficker maintains control of the victim through threats, violence, fear or blackmail.

Ending child labour, forced labour and human trafficking in global supply chains

ISBN: 978-92-2-133700-3 (Print); 978-92-2-133701-0 (Web PDF) - International Labour Organization (ILO

ISBN: 978-92-9068-805-1 (Print); 978-92-9068-806-8 (eISBN) – International Organization for Migration (IOM)

International Labour Organization (ILO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) - Geneva, 2019

[accessed 12 November 2019]

This report presents the joint research findings and conclusions on child labour, forced labour and human trafficking linked to global supply chains from the ILO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), under the aegis of Alliance 8.7.

The report seeks to inform public and business policies and practices in order to prevent child labour, forced labour and human trafficking in global supply chains, and to protect its victims. It also recognizes the multidimensional nature of these violations and the smart policy mix necessary to address them. It considers not only the risk factors and policy interventions related to addressing the vulnerability of people, but also the unique complexity of global supply chains that can hide abuse and the links with informality and migration.


UN.GIFT - Global Initiative toFight Human Trafficking

[accessed 11 August 2019]


The majority of trafficking victims are between18 and 24 years of age

An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year

95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking (based on data from selected European countries)

43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation, of whom 98 per cent are women and girls

32% of victims are used for forced economic exploitation, of whom 56 per cent are women and girls

Many trafficking victims have at least middle-level education

Human trafficking and slavery still happen in Australia. This comic explains how

The Conversation, 11 June 2019

[accessed 12 June 2019]

In practice, modern slavery is an umbrella term that is often used to describe human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices such as servitude, forced labour and forced marriage.

But slavery is timeless. It has always been about the commodification of the body of a man, woman or child, the theft of liberty and sometimes life.

A Blight on the Nation: Slavery in Today's America

Ron Soodalter, The Carnegie Council, April 27, 2009

[accessed 8 January 2011]

[accessed 24 February 2018]

Overwhelmingly, they come on the promise of a better life, with the opportunity to work and prosper in America. Many come in the hope of earning enough money to support or send for their families. In order to afford the journey, they fork over their life savings, and go into debt to people who make promises they have no intention of keeping, and instead of opportunity, when they arrive they find bondage. They can be found—or more accurately, not found—in all 50 states, working as farmhands, domestics, sweatshop and factory laborers, gardeners, restaurant and construction workers, and victims of sexual exploitation.

These people do not represent a class of poorly paid employees, working at jobs they might not like. They exist specifically to work, they are unable to leave, and are forced to live under the constant threat and reality of violence. By definition, they are slaves. Today, we call it human trafficking, but make no mistake: It is the slave trade.

Modern Day Slavery

Veronica Pugin. Claremont Port Side, April 13, 2009

[accessed 20 August 2011]

Beyond the abuse involved in the commercial trafficking of women and children, human trafficking also entails all forms of forced labor, debt bondage, coerced domestic labor, and military conscription of children. Victims of human trafficking do not freely choose their occupation nor do they prefer it to their former lives; instead, they have been forced into a situation far worse than they had ever consented to. A majority of those victimized have little access to education, have a low rate of economic opportunity, experience a great deal of civil and political strife, or are migrants. The people in these situations tend to be more vulnerable to the traps of the traffickers.  In many regions of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, certain traffickers befriend street children, trick them into believing that they would provide guidance, and then ultimately sell them as sex slaves or as domestic servants.

Human trafficking is all too real, filmmaker discovers

The Baptist Standard, Austin, February 05, 2009

[accessed 12 September 2014]

[accessed 13 March 2018]

Shortly after reading the article, Dillon and his band played a small town near the Black Sea. The crowds were raucous and energetic, treating Dillon and his bandmates like they were the Beatles. After the show, he met one of his new fans, a teenage girl who believed she had paid someone to make travel arrangements for her to go to the U.S.   But her story didn’t add up. She believed she was going to the U.S. for a more comfortable lifestyle—working in a fast-food restaurant. Remembering the Times article, Dillon dug deeper, asking the girl to show him the paperwork for her travel arrangements.   She had none. Dillon sat her down and explained to her that she was being swindled and most likely would become a victim of human trafficking. He told her that she likely would be sold, beaten and raped, never living the life she thought she was a plane ride from.

The toughest part wasn’t explaining what most likely was this girl’s fate, Dillon said. It was watching her decide to take the chance anyway.

IOM’s Busatti: We’re fighting the ugly face of globalization

Ayse Karabat, The Ethiopian Herald, 11 May 2015

[accessed 20 August 2015]

A CANDLE IN THE DARK - "Sometimes we feel we are trying to bring to shore a boat that is at the edge of a waterfall," Busatti says. But he adds that seeing the smiling faces of the victims after they have been rescued keeps him and his colleagues going. He says sometimes he feels he cannot take any more when he sees children and single mothers forced into prostitution, but he adds: "We are always caught in a paradox. We feel that our help is marginal in comparison with the size of the evils of this industry. But, of course, it does not mean we stop assisting.”

Body Shopping - Wealthy westerners are descending upon developing countries to purchase human organs from the poor

Mehru Jaffer Vienna, Hard News, March 2008

[accessed 20 August 2011]

"We don't really know how many people are trafficked for organs," Scheper-Hughes says, adding that a conservative estimate of the number of trafficked kidneys was 15,000 each year. There are 'strong cases' documenting coercion in sale of organs in Eastern Europe, Turkey, Israel, India, and the United States. Poverty seems to be a prevailing feature in trafficking in persons for the purposes of organ removal.

Human Trafficking: The Worst Form of Labour Exploitation

Signe Damkjaer, ScandAsia Thailand News, 06 February 2008

[accessed 12 September 2014]

LABOUR EXPLOITATION - Most migrant workers have chosen to move in order to improve their living conditions. But many are poor and vulnerable and some get trapped in the migration process or at destination and end up being exploited and abused, Anders Lisborg explains. ”It becomes trafficking when middlemen or employers take advantage of migrant’s vulnerability and sell them to a situation where

 their rights are violated. If they for example are not paid, not allowed to leave the factory or the compound or if they are physically or psychologically abused.” 

“When you boil down the words of UN’s definition of trafficking it is basically about addressing severe labour exploitation and lack of decent working conditions,in different sectors,” he says  “In others words, whenever you can talk about migrant workers being forced or tricked  into severe exploitation at the worksite or during tansportation  – then it is basically a case of trafficking.”

However, this does not mean that everybody have the same requisites and the same choices. “We know that the world in reality is not as fair as we would like it to be.” The important thing is that people can chose what to do and what not to do. And have the option to say stop,” he says.

Victims Of A Hidden Population - Human Trafficking

Annalise Kempen, Servamus Safety and Security Magazine, 04 March 2008

[accessed 12 September 2014]

"You refuse to do it, but in the end you have to accept reality. You can run away, but where do you run to? You want to talk, but who do you talk to? You are totally confused." This was the plight of a young Nigerian girl who had been trafficked to Italy. When she realised that she had been lied to and that she would have to sell sex instead of working in a restaurant, as she had been promised, she cried non-stop for 5 days.

Unbearable to the human heart: Child trafficking and action to eliminate it

International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour ILO-IPEC, Reference:92-2-113088-6[ISBN], INT/00/000/AAA[ILO_REF], 1 December 2002

[accessed 13 March 2018]

ROOT CAUSES OF CHILD TRAFFICKING - There are many reasons why child trafficking occurs, but it is overwhelmingly a demand-driven phenomenon.  It occurs first and foremost because there is a market for children in labour and in the sex trade, and this is matched by an abundant supply of children, most often from poor families, who are easy prey for those who seek to make a profit by exploiting their vulnerability.

Complementing the forces of supply and demand that underlie trafficking are the infrastructure and trends associated with a rapidly globalizing world: increasingly open borders, better transport, and increased overall migration flows.  Globalization has provided impetus to both those who wish to migrate and those who traffic the unwilling. In 2000, the United Nations estimated that almost 13 million people, or 2 per cent of the world population, are on the move at any given time.

Human Rights Watch’s Statement to the IOM Council

Human Rights Watch (observer status), International Organization for Migration IOM Governing Council, 27-30 November 2007 (94th Session)

[accessed 20 August 2011]

[accessed 14 April 2019]

A RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH TO MANAGING MIGRATION - Contrary to popular belief, human trafficking should not be understood necessarily or exclusively as an underground phenomenon run by criminal syndicates. Instead, trafficking often results from inadequate or faulty government policies that place certain groups of migrants and workers at greater risk of abuse and with little hope for redress. Anti-trafficking efforts must target and reform these policies. For example, poor regulation and monitoring of recruitment agents leads many migrants to become heavily indebted or deceived about working conditions. Sponsorship visas in the Middle East and Asia tie workers to their employers making it difficult for them to change employment in cases of abuse. And certain categories of work in which migrants are concentrated, such as domestic work and agriculture, are excluded from key labor protections.

Protecting the Innocent: Reducing Vulnerability to Human Trafficking in West and Central Africa

African Press Organization APO, Abidjan, 26 November 2007

[accessed 20 August 2011]

INNOCENCE LOST - Human trafficking is a global problem. But Western Africa is particularly hard hit.

q  Children - drugged, coerced, and forced to carry guns almost as big as themselves - become killers, child soldiers on the frontlines of savage conflicts (for example in Congo, Liberia, or Sierra Leone);

q  Boys, with stones tied around their ankles, are forced to dive into dangerous waters to untangle nets (like on Lake Volta);

q  Girls, caught up in conflict, are forced into sex slavery;

q  Children, who should be at school, are working long hours in coco fields or in mines (even here in Cote d’Ivoire) doing back-breaking work for almost nothing.

This has an impact far beyond the trauma suffered by these children. For how can West Africa build a peaceful and prosperous future if its youth is being exploited, recycled, and scarred for life?

Trafficking: return of the ‘white slavery’ scare?

Brendan O'Neill, Editor, Spiked, 31 January 2008

[accessed 20 August 2011]

[accessed 14 April 2019]

In recent years, a motley crew of government and police forces in America and Europe, feminist activists, fundamentalist Christian outfits and celebrity campaigners has turned human trafficking into one of the biggest issues of our time. They claim there is a new ‘slave trade’, that tens of thousands of people – especially women and children – are being sold across borders and into bondage every year. Salacious newspaper reports (in respectable broadsheets as well as the tabloids) tell us of ‘the teenagers traded for slave labour and sex’; of African children that are ‘nothing but a commodity… traded for tawdry sex and living under the fear of voodoo’; of Eastern European women moved across Europe ‘like cattle’ to service sex-hungry kerb-crawlers in Britain, Spain, France and Germany (7). The anti-traffickers paint a picture of uber-Dickensian global squalor, of Conradian darkness, where women and children are bought and sold by evil gangs, and then forced into labour and kept in their place by threats of murder or voodoo vengeance.

The evidence for these sinister claims is murky indeed. No one doubts that illegal immigration is a messy business. Migrants from some Eastern European countries and from Africa are denied free movement around Europe. Thus they frequently have little choice but to pay middlemen for fake passports, risky forms of transportation and other favours. Those who do make it into Britain, France or Germany have to live beneath officialdom’s radar or risk being deported back to their country of origin: this means they can easily be exploited, becoming beholden to dodgy employers who pay them shockingly low wages and provide them with shoddy housing. But enslaved? Victims of voodoo? Little more than ‘cattle’ or ‘commodities’ driven and shipped around Europe like animals? Such claims seem to spring from the anti-traffickers’ fevered and borderline-xenophobic mindset, rather than being based in reality.

Literary Happenings: Book details human trafficking in world

Jo Ellen Heil, Ventura County Star, November 18, 2007

[accessed 20 August 2011]

"Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade — and How We Can Fight It" by award-winning journalist David Batstone (HarperCollins; $15).

Filled with victims' stories, reformers' struggles, political trends and opportunities for individual involvement, "Not for Sale" is a literary spark capable of igniting real change in the fight against human trafficking. Fascinating, well-written and readable, the book also includes an extensive list of Web sites, resources and organizations that are making a difference.

MODERN-DAY SLAVERY - Important Information About Trafficking in Persons [PDF]

Vital Voices Global Partnership, Washington DC, 2003

[accessed 3 March 2015]

ABSTRACT: What is trafficking in persons? Trafficking in persons is the illegal trade in human beings, through abduction, the use or threat of force, deception, fraud or “sale” for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor. This horrific human rights violation is modern-day slavery. 800,000 to 900,000 people are trafficked every year. 20,000 end up in slavery right here in the United States. Most are women and children. Trafficking victims have been found in cities and rural areas all across America. People are lured from countries with high rates of poverty and violence in Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America and tricked into believing better opportunities await them in the U.S. and other destination countries. Once there, instead of finding opportunity they are held in slavery-like conditions, imprisoned, raped, beaten, starved, and forced into prostitution, domestic service and forced labor. Much like drug trafficking, trafficking in persons is a multinational, organized criminal industry that generates billions of dollars a year. A person who has been trafficked is considered a victim of a serious crime under U.S. law and has the right to protection and assistance under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. This law provides for the protection of victims in the U.S., including medical care and shelter services. (excerpt)

Who's afraid of ... human trafficking?

Nathalie Rothschild, commissioning editor, Spiked, 10 July 2007

[accessed 20 August 2011]

[accessed 14 April 2019]

Nathalie Rothschild says the promiscuous use of the term ‘trafficking’ to describe migration across borders is leading to new and stringent restrictions on free movement around the world.

Task Force Battles Human Trafficking

The Point Newspaper, 24th August 2005 -- Compiled by Ebrima Sawaneh With the Courtesy of the American Embassy in Banjul

[accessed 20 August 2011]

[accessed 14 April 2019]

It's important to establish the difference between human smuggling and human trafficking. Smuggling is when people pay to be taken across the border illegally. Trafficking, on the other hand, goes a lot further. In many cases, victims of human trafficking are detained against their will and forced into slave labor.

"Once the victims arrive in the United States, the traffickers then tell them, 'You know what? You're not free to leave. You owe me five, ten... In some cases we've heard 20-thousand dollars for taking care of your travel to the United States. Now you're going to work it off.' " Paul Pinon heads the El Paso Police Department's Human Trafficking Task Force.

The New Global Slave Trade

Ethan B. Kapstein, Foreign Affairs, The Council on Foreign Relations, November/December 2006

[accessed 20 August 2011]

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Most people think of slavery as a purely historical phenomenon. In fact, the practice thrives around the world today. The same factors that contribute to economic globalization have given rise to a booming international traffic in human beings, often with the connivance of national governments. Fighting this scourge successfully will take more than another UN treaty: Western nations must use their military might.

Global solution needed to eradicate human trafficking, says expert

Micheline R. Millar, Pinoy Press, Manila, 9 July 2007

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Heyzer traced the dramatic growth in migration and trafficking flows to so-called “push and pull” factors. Push factors would include uneven economic growth, war and armed conflict, natural disasters, high levels of gender inequality, and family violence. Prosperity and stability in medium and high growth countries and regions act as pull factors creating increased demand for imported labor in what Heyzer termed as the “global workplace.”

Migrant workers are cast under two categories: highly skilled professionals demanded by the new global economy and technologies; and the much larger group composed of semi-skilled and unskilled workers willing to take low wages, insecurity and dangerous work, said Heyzer.

ILO estimates 218m child labourers in world

Daily Times, Peshawar, June 12, 2007

[accessed 12 September 2014]

“Unfortunately, most of the national actors where the problem of bonded labour prevails have neither the technical capacity nor the political will to effectively address a problem of such a magnitude. Governments must focus on children in bondage,” stated SPARC National Manager-Promotion Fazila Gulrez.

She said there were three types of bonded labourers, adding, The first is when a child inherits a debt carried by his/her parents. Another form of bonded labour occurs when a child is used as collateral for a loan. Finally, a child worker may enter into bondage when the parents request an advance on future wages they expect to earn.”

A Report on Debt Bondage, Carpet-Making, and Child Slavery

Swathi Mehta, Tufts University, - The American Anti-Slavery Group

[accessed 20 August 2011]

OVERVIEW - In Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Dr. Kevin Bales estimates that there are at least 27 million slaves in the world today – more than at any other time in human history. Slavery is on the rise around the world for the simple reason that unpaid, forced labor constitutes an excellent (though brutal) means to economic profit. For callous businessmen, slaves are disposable people who toil to meet the global market’s demand for goods. The lower a good’s production costs, the more competitive it will be on the global market.

Sex Trafficking Victims: Disposable or Human

Janice Shaw Crouse,, 7/11/2007

[accessed 20 August 2011]

There are those who would argue that human trafficking is the inevitable outcome of poverty and that some poverty-stricken people choose willingly to be involved. But, as Ambassador Lagon pointed out, “There is a growing refusal to accept enslavement as an inevitable product of poverty or human viciousness. Corruption is typically poverty’s handmaiden in cases of human trafficking.”

Russian Mob and Human Trafficking

Jim Kouri, RenewAmerica, July 18, 2005

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From Himalayan villages to Eastern European cities, people -- especially women and girls -- are attracted by the prospect of a well-paid job as a domestic servant, waitress or factory worker. Human traffickers recruit victims through fake advertisements, mail-order bride catalogues and casual acquaintances. Upon arrival at their destination, victims are placed in conditions controlled by traffickers while they are exploited to earn illicit revenues. Many are physically confined, their travel or identity documents are taken away and they or their families are threatened if they do not cooperate.

Women and girls forced to work as prostitutes are blackmailed by the threat that traffickers will tell their families. Trafficked children are dependent on their traffickers for food, shelter and other basic necessities. Traffickers also play on victims’ fears that authorities in a strange country will prosecute or deport them if they ask for help. A major purveyor of these de facto slaves is the Russian organized crime syndicate. Brutal, cunning and ruthless, these 21st Century mobsters present a new threat to US national security.

Slavery: A Worldwide Evil - From India to Indiana, more people are enslaved today than ever before

Charles Jacobs, President, American Anti-Slavery Group

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In 1993, Abdul Momen traveled to the town of Tungipara, 25 miles from Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, where 1,000 children, mostly girls, were reported missing. A dozen mothers told him the same tale: Their children had left with labor contractors who promised good jobs in the Persian Gulf.

Guarding America's First Right: Freedom From Bondage - The civil rights community must respond to the disturbing rise in cases of involuntary servitude in the United States

Jesse Sage, Former Associate Director, American Anti-Slavery Group, Published by the US Commission on Civil Rights

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Dawn explained that a couple from Saudi Arabia with a young son moved in across the hall from her mother. A Thai woman who speaks no English lived with them. "When the couple leave for work, she runs across the hall to my mother's, crying. We can't understand her, but she appears to be the boy's nanny - and she shows signs of physical abuse.

Fighting Slavery in 2006 - The long war ahead against human trafficking

Bryan Collinsworth, Field Report, Campus Progress, July 27, 2006

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MODERN-DAY SLAVERY - The most common stories are of young women and girls who are lured from poverty-stricken places with promises of work as servants or nannies, only to find themselves turned into shut-in sex slaves in alien countries where, even if they do escape, the authorities are often inaccessible to them. There are also men and boys, offered well-paying labor in faraway locations, only to be told when they arrive that they must work off the (previously unmentioned) costs of their transportation, and that their passports, wages, and freedom will be withheld until they do.

Different forms of human slavery

Barbara Kralis, RenewAmerica, July 20, 2006

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Despite centuries of struggle, slavery has not been eradicated from our world. Slavery is readily found on the farms of India, the heritable debt-bondage brick making kilns of Pakistan, and the cocoa plantations of Cote d'Ivoire.

Slavery thrives in the rug loom sheds of Nepal; the sex-slavery brothels of Manila, Thailand, Japan and the U.S.; the water-carrier chattel in Mauritania; the charcoal-making camps of Brazil; child prostitution in Ecuador; and child camel-jockey riding for the wealthy Sheikhs in United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

Migrant trafficking exists for sexual labor throughout visa-free Canadian borders and into the U.S.A. Slavery exists in the garment manufacturing sweatshops of Los Angeles and New York, in the numerous sex clubs of St. Paul and Minneapolis, or domestic servitude in the wealthiest homes in Paris, London, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., just to name a few.

21st Century slavery

Barbara Kralis, RenewAmerica, July 18, 2006

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MORE SLAVES NOW THAN EVER - Today, 21st century slavery has changed a little from Solzhenitsyn's 1974 portrayal. The numbers and profits have increased, as well as the clandestine methods of human trafficking--moving victims from one location to another and still to another. According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], human trafficking alone generates a staggering $9.5 billion in yearly revenues worldwide. The International Labour Office [ILO] estimates that figure to be $32 billion each year. Moreover, there are more slaves today than any other time in human history. Worldwide estimates are that 27 million men, women, and children, even babies, are in slavery today, at any given time, a number much greater than any other period in recorded history and exponentially growing.

Our Children Used - Part 2: Enslaved and Forgotten

Mark P. Denee, The Real Truth, March 10, 2004

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Many believe that the future is bright for our children. And yet, many children of this world are enslaved, trafficked, and forgotten. Here is the tragic reality of the loss of innocence.

Vigilance Needed in Fight Against Human Trafficking

Hediana Utarti and Kavitha Sreeharsha, New America Media, Commentary, SAN FRANCISCO, May 29, 2006

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All of the media stories depict sex trafficking. Sex trafficking, however, is only one of the many types of human trafficking that violates a person's rights, safety, and dignity. Human trafficking also refers to the ways people are recruited and then forced into labor such as factory work, agricultural work, domestic servitude, restaurant work, and servile marriage.

More than 12 million are trapped in forced labor worldwide. ILO releases major new study on forced labor

International Labor Organization ILO, Geneva, May 11, 2005

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The report is the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken by an intergovernmental organization of the facts and underlying causes of contemporary forced labor. It was prepared under the Follow Up to the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted by the ILO in 1998 and will be discussed at the Organization's annual International Labor Conference in June.

The new study confirms that forced labor is a major global problem that is present in all regions and in all types of economy. Of the overall total, some 9.5 million forced laborers are in Asia, which is the region with the highest number; 1.3 million in Latin America and the Caribbean; 660,000 in sub-Saharan Africa; 260,000 in the Middle East and North Africa; 360,000 in industrialized countries; and 210,000 in transition countries.

Trafficking in the Americas [PDF]

Alison Phinney, prepared for the Inter-American Commission of Women (Organization of American States) and the Women, Health and Development Program (Pan American Health Organization)

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The trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation is a high-profit, low-risk trade for those who organize it, but it is detrimental to the millions of women and children exploited in slavery-like conditions in the global sex industry. This trade, which UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called an outrage and a worldwide plague, is conducted throughout the world with near impunity, in many cases carrying penalties far less severe than drug trafficking. Though people often associate it with Eastern Europe or Asia, there is mounting evidence that the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation, with its concomitant human rights abuses and health consequences, is a significant problem in the Americas—one that promises to worsen unless collective action is taken. This paper is an introduction to trafficking in the Americas, offering a brief discussion of relevant issues.

Trafficking in Persons: the New Protocol

UN Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC, 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

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Every year hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are trafficked illegally all over the world. Most of us assume that these people are willing participants in a criminal transaction. We believe that they are simply looking for an escape from poverty. Rarely do we pause to think about the specific problems they encounter when they are being smuggled or what happens to them afterwards. The reality reflects a very different picture

Draft United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

UN Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC, Press Kit Fact Sheets No1, DPI/2088/D, March 2000

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Click [here] to access the article.  Its URL is not displayed because of its length

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DRAFT PROTOCOL AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN AND CHILDREN - As trafficking in persons, especially women and children for forced labour or "sex slavery", becomes increasingly linked to transnational organized crime, Governments have decided that a separate legal instrument -a Protocol against Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children- is needed to fight it.

U.N. anti-trafficking drive hits culture barriers, May 17, 2007 -- Adapted from: Mark Heinrich, "U.N. Anti-Trafficking Drive Hits Culture Barriers", Reuters, 23 April 2007

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Global efforts to crack down on human trafficking are handicapped by lack of information from countries whose cultures have not deemed some forms of slavery to be a crime, U.N. officials said on Monday.  The United Nations is trying to raise awareness that two centuries after the transatlantic slave trade was abolished, millions of adults and children are sold into prostitution or made to work in degrading conditions for little or no pay.

Costa told a news briefing during a break in the meeting: "When families (in Asian villages) sell their daughter, it's not out of poverty necessarily, it may be cultural."

A diplomat close to the UNODC said its campaign was running up against cultural traditions in some significant developing nations that tolerated human trafficking and related slave labour outlawed by U.N. conventions.

Trafficking In Women and Children

Judge Nimfa Cuesta Vilches, Branch 48 Regional Trial Court of Manila

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ACTS OF TRAFFICKING - The following are deemed acts of trafficking committed either by a person or an entity when done for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage: (a) to recruit, transport, transfer, harbor, provide or receive a person on the pretext of domestic or overseas employment, training or apprenticeship; (b) introduce or match for a consideration any Filipino woman to a foreign national for marriage for the purpose of trading her for prostitution; (c) offer or contract marriage; (d) undertake or organize tours and travel plans; (e) maintain or hire a person; and, (f) adopt or facilitate adoption.  Any undue recruitment, hiring, adoption, and movement of persons and children for removal or sale of organs or for the children to engage in armed activities in the Philippines or abroad are also considered acts of trafficking.

The Link Between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking [PDF]

U.S. Department of State, November 2004

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Prostitution and related activities—including pimping and patronizing or maintaining brothels—fuel the growth of modern-day slavery by providing a façade behind which traffickers for sexual exploitation operate.

Trafficking: A Threat to Women Worldwide

Refugees International, 2004

[Last access date unavailable]

“Trafficking.” It’s a bland euphemism for a despicable crime committed primarily against women and children. It involves the theft and sale of human beings into lives of bondage, sexual abuse or both.

Trafficking and the Commodification of Women and Children

Prof. Richard Poulin, Ottawa University, Sisyphe, 12 February 2004

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by Richard Poulin, professor, Ottawa University.  This article examines industrialization of the sex trade and the mass production of sexual goods and services structured around a regional and international division of labor which has resulted in the commodification of women and children

Stolen Lives: Trafficking of women - The first thing they lose is their freedom. Then they're subjected to violence to make them submit

Lory Hough, Kennedy School Communications, 2005

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Gathering for what moderator Swanee Hunt, director of the Women and Public Policy Program, called a "grim subject," a group of experts met in the Kennedy School Forum to talk about the trafficking of women and girls worldwide and what, if anything, can be done to stop it

Millions 'forced into slavery'

BBC News, 27 May, 2002

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Between 5,000 and 14,000 people are said by the group to have been abducted into forced labour in Sudan since 1983.  There are also problems of forced labour in Mauritania where, the London-based rights group says, little has been done to secure the release of slaves or punish those who use them despite the abolition of slavery in 1981.  In Brazil, the report says, more than 1,000 people were rescued from forced labour last year, but many more remain enslaved on Amazonian estates.  The report says that in Pakistan, particularly in Sindh province, many women, children and men are forced to accept landlords' cash advances and work all day long for no wages.  Many of those who are forcibly employed across the world are children.

Human trafficking from Iran to Gulf Shiekhdoms [PDF]

Shargh daily, May 26, 2004

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A group of Iranian boys and girls will be sold in an auction today in Fojeyreh, United Arab Emirates. At a round table discussion on human trafficking held yesterday (at the office of) the Young Iranian Society news agency, it was announced that the preparations for this auction were made two weeks before by hunters of Iranian women and girls in the course of an international exhibition…

The human hunters were able to choose 54 Iranian girls out of the 286 that were put on show in an Arab country's booth. They were then sent to a Persian Gulf country on May 17 to get ready for the Fojeyreh auction on May 26…

Dispatches from the World of Human Trafficking

Jennifer Goodson, Jul 28th, 2005

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The social workers and I climbed carefully up a narrow stairwell to a residence hall about as wide as a balcony on a cheap hotel. Dogs that seemed drugged lay in our path. The smell of urine choked the air. I was introduced to Cybi, who pays 35 rupees (71 cents) a day for a bed in a small room with several other men, women, and children. She is required to have sex with at least ten clients a day. On festivals and holidays, the number is more likely to be twenty.

The day we arrived, she found out that she had AIDS.

Child Labor Rules Don't Ease Burden in Bangladesh

Evelyn Iritani, The Los Angeles Times, Dhaka Bangladesh, May 04, 2003

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Under the association's program, designed in 1995 at the urging of the United States, the apparel industry has all but wiped out child labor. What's more, garment makers have sent nearly 10,000 children who once toiled in their factories to school, a considerable accomplishment in a country in which 35 percent don't make it past primary grades. But to many people here, the program doesn't feel like much of a success

How can something so sweet taste so wrong?

Athena Sydney

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Forty-three percent of the cocoa used in chocolate comes from Ivory Coast, which makes this African country the biggest producer of cocoa worldwide. Most of the laborers on cocoa plantations are between twelve and sixteen years old, some of them are even younger, nine years old. These young children are treated like slaves – they don’t receive any payment for their labor, and are beaten with sticks when they don’t work, or try to escape. They are locked up at night, don’t get sufficient nutrition and work eighty to one hundred hours per week. The children are separated from their families, since they are ‘purchased’ from their families in adjacent countries like Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo, and they live in constant fear on the cocoa plantations. Although it is not known how many children are enslaved in Ivory Coast, it is estimated that approximately fifteen thousand child slaves work on cocoa, cotton and coffee farms in this African country.

Leonora, “P” and the human traffickers

Voice of America VOA, 18 June, 2007

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On the other hand, “P”s older brother is perceived as the personification of success despite the fact that a whole dark world is hidden behind his external dignity. He was forced into human trafficking during his tender years and later decided to become a trafficker himself. He returned to the village to perform a most valuable service for his ringleaders. He is now the local recruiter for the new victims of the human trade, those that are needed to meet the growing demand.

"Modern day slavery". Prostitution in Thailand


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To every one of us being a child means playing, laughing, eating ice cream, being surrounded with loving and caring parents. For children in Thailand however, this is just a mere image of the impossible. Thousands of them are tricked, drugged and then sold or abducted into prostitution

What is Human Trafficking?

The Salvation Army!OpenDocument&Click=

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Human trafficking (also referred to as trafficking in persons or TIP) is an umbrella term used to describe the process by which millions of people become enslaved each year.

Each year millions of human beings are subjected to the trafficking process and find themselves exploited in settings such as brick kilns, sweatshops, chicken farms, cocoa plantations, mines, fisheries, rock quarries, or for compulsory participation in public works or military service, as well as a variety of other settings. Countless others, predominately women and female children, but also boys, are trafficked into the commercial sex industry where they are used in forms of commercial sexual exploitation like prostitution, pornography, and nude dancing. Some are sold as "brides."

Trafficking in persons is frequently referred to as modern-day slavery. Slavery is an apt analogy that shocks and challenges us. Americans in particular are moved by this comparison. To us, slavery is a sordid, indelible stain on our national heritage, but nevertheless it is an evil most believe we conquered and relegated to the history books. However, news media accounts, on-the-ground intelligence from nongovernmental organizations, and reports from agencies the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, create a different picture. They reveal the inescapable truth that trafficking is one of the principle means by which slavery survives.

The size and pervasiveness of the crime presents a formidable problem, but we fight on despite the odds. Accordingly, the Salvation Army has established this website to educate and equip people desiring to engage in this battle against the exploitation and dehumanization of human beings.

Human Trafficking for Forced Labor Might Exceed Perception

Jane Morse, USINFO Staff Writer, Vienna Austria

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Human trafficking for forced labor might be a greater problem than the more widely known problem of trafficking for sexual exploitation, says Kristiina Kangaspunta, the chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

“We don’t know that much about forced labor issues,” she acknowledged in an April 26 interview with USINFO.   “We don’t know, but it seems that it might be that forced labor is a bigger part of the human trafficking than human trafficking for sexual exploitation.”  She cited an enormous number of places that could absorb the forced labor of men, women and children:  restaurants, hotels, bars, agriculture, domestic and construction work.

Interpol Official Discusses Human Trafficking, Internet Pornography

Eugen Tomiuc, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, 14 May 2003

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Interview with Hamish McCulloch, the assistant director of Interpol and the head of the agency's human-trafficking sub-directorate. He also discusses the problems of both trafficking and child pornography on the Internet

Best Practices to Address the Demand Side of Sex Trafficking [PDF]

Prof. Donna M. Hughes, University of Rhode Island, August 2004

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This report describes efforts to address the demand side of sex trafficking. It defines the demand and describes its different components. It describes laws, policies, and programs aimed at reducing the demand for prostitution in communities and entire countries.  It includes a review of research on men’s behavior and attitudes towards prostitution and researchers’ analyses of men’s behavior and motives to purchase sex acts

US decries 'modern-day slavery'

BBC News, 12 July, 2001

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Victims worldwide "are subjected to threats against their person and family, violence, horrific living conditions and dangerous workplaces," the report says.  They end up working as cheap labour, some on construction sites, others in clothing factories and many in brothels.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell called the practice an "abomination against humanity" and said Washington would work to put an end to it.  The report lists the root causes for trafficking as "greed, moral turpitude, economics, political instability and transition and social factors".

The Myth of the Migrant

Kerry Howley, Reason Magazine, December 26, 2007

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reason: What do you make of the State Department's claim that 800,000 people are trafficked each year?

Agustín: Numbers like this are fabricated by defining trafficking in an extremely broad way to take in enormous numbers of people. The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons is using the widest possible definition, which assumes that any woman who sells sex could not really want to, and, if she crossed a national border, she was forced.

The numbers are egregious partly because the research is cross-cultural. The US, calling itself the world's moral arbiter on these issues, uses its embassies in other countries to talk to the police and other local authorities, supposedly to find out how many people were trafficked. There is a language issue —all the words involved don’t translate perfectly, and there is a confusion about what trafficking means. People don't all use it the same way. Even leaving aside language issues, we know the data aren't being collected using a standard methodology across countries. 800,000 is a fantasy number.

reason: Is there a legitimate core of abuses that need to be addressed?

Agustín: Some conscientious people talk about trafficking as applicable to men, transsexuals, or anyone you like, no matter what kind of work they do, when things go very wrong during a migration. When migrants are charged egregious amounts of money they can't possibly pay back, for example. However, we've reached the point in this cultural madness where most people mean specifically women who sell sex when they use the word "trafficking." They usually mean women working inside brothels.

reason: So there is an attempt to conflate the terms prostitution and trafficking?

Agustín: There is a definite effort to conflate the terms in a stream of feminism I call "fundamentalist feminism." These feminists believe there is a single definition of Woman, and that sexual experience is key to a woman's life, soul, self-definition. This particular group has tried to say that prostitution is not only by definition exploitation but is trafficking. It's bizarre but they are maintaining that.