10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Brazil
Brazil is the largest country in South America and a key player in the international sphere. Despite its power and influence, there are still human rights issues prevalent in Brazil’s population. Human trafficking affects a significant portion of the 211 million people living in the country. Here are 10 facts about human trafficking in Brazil.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Brazil

  1. Due to recent urbanization in Brazil, many industries, such as textile companies, are exploiting undocumented workers, especially those from neighboring Spanish-speaking countries. Undocumented workers are not the only victims of human trafficking in Brazil, however, as women and children are in situations of forced labor or prostitution. Between the years of 2010 and 2017, Brazil had over 500 cases of forced sexual exploitation, stemming from the country’s severe income inequality. Since 2005, Brazil’s government has made efforts to reduce the income gap, but since over 70 percent of those in forced labor situations are illiterate, these efforts have yet to impact the high rates of human trafficking in Brazil.
  2. Traffickers are taking women from their homes in small villages. The NGO Rede Um Grito pela Vida, which translates to A Cry for Life Network, reports that criminal organizations are taking females from their homes in small villages along the Amazon. The traffickers tell these women that they will have a better life involving work or education. Furthermore, criminal organizations usually move them to other Brazilian cities. The traffickers commonly place these women into roles of forced sexual exploitation.
  3. The U.S. Department of State has commended the efforts of the Brazilian government in its work towards ending human trafficking in the country. Such work includes convicting more traffickers, investigating and prosecuting more trafficking cases and identifying more victims of “trabalho escravo,” or unpaid labor. Although each state’s reported data varies, Brazil remains a “tier 2” country, meaning that it is working in the right direction, but still has a long way to go to decrease human trafficking at an effective rate.
  4. In 2019, Brazilian authorities brought down a human trafficking ring that specifically targetted transgender women. At least 38 transgender women were working in brothels in the state of Sao Paulo, where traffickers were holding them due to the debts they owed for undergoing illegal transitional surgeries. The importance of this case involves the distinction between sex work and the exploitation of sex workers. Sex work is legal in Brazil. However, the exploitation of sex workers blurs the line between human trafficking and legal employment.
  5. The Ministry of Labor implemented the use of “Special Mobile Inspection Groups” with the aim of spotting forced labor in rural areas. It does this by performing unannounced inspections in farms and factories. Between the years of 1995 and 2017, there have been over 53,000 successful rescues of forced laborers in Brazil through the efforts of these inspection groups.
  6. According to the Digital Observatory of Slavery Labour in Brazil, government agencies rescued over 35,000 people from slave labor between 2003 and 2017. The Federal Police performed many of the rescue missions in the form of raids on groups that utilize human trafficking. These raids, in particular, focused individuals who had to provide labor for no cost to their captors.
  7. Although there are many kinds of human trafficking, a common type of modern slavery inside Brazil is forced labor. Forced labor is prevalent in rural areas. It focuses on industries that require field labor, such as cattle ranching, coffee production and forestry. About 7 million domestic workers in Brazil are victims of forced labor. This means they work long hours, suffer abuse and receive little to no pay.
  8. There are many NGOs working to provide legal and social assistance to victims of human trafficking in Brazil and its neighboring countries. The GLO.ACT, an initiative that the E.U. and the U.N. support, began its efforts in Nicaragua, and since then expanded to providing assistance to over 100 participants from NGOs and government agencies in Brazil. In addition, it provides missions in Brazil where participants can visit cities and help vulnerable migrants find shelter, all while creating awareness about the issue of human trafficking.
  9. The U.S. Department of State’s 2019 trafficking report outlines the role of the Brazilian Federal Police (DPF) in combatting human trafficking. The DPF has a unit in every state in Brazil that investigates most trafficking crimes. Although law enforcement at all levels lacks sufficient funding and staffing, the support of international organizations and foreign governments is supplementing this deficit.
  10. Traffickers often trick undocumented migrants into entering Brazil under the false pretense that they will live in the U.S. The traffickers then either force those migrants into human trafficking rings or dangerous journeys from Brazil up to the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. is taking legal action in response to these crimes and prosecuting human traffickers through its judicial system when their crimes cross the U.S. border.

 Although these 10 facts about human trafficking in Brazil present startling statistics, there remains a beacon of hope surrounding the topic. Brazil’s government is taking steps towards advancing the legal protection of human rights in the country, such as ratifying the United Nations Palermo Protocol. International human trafficking is an issue that requires support from various sectors, especially from governments and their agencies. Through international support and awareness, facts about human trafficking in Brazil may replace with more positive statistics. Overall, the work of NGOs, foreign aid and the Brazilian government continues to generate progress in the fight against human trafficking.

Ariana Davarpanah
Photo: Flickr

5 Human Trafficking Awareness AppsThere are more slaves now than ever before in human history. Because of this, human trafficking can often feel too big to tackle, but thanks to technology, there are practical ways to join the fight against trafficking in persons. Here are five human trafficking awareness apps that everyone should know.

5 Human Trafficking Awareness Apps

  1. Sweat & Toil – The Sweat & Toil app was created by the U.S. Department of Labor to inform consumers of items created through child labor or forced labor, allowing them to make more informed buying decisions. The app also provides global child labor data, research on countries’ efforts to eliminate child labor and a review of laws related to child and forced labor.
  2. The STOP APP – This app, created by STOP THE TRAFFIK, gives people the ability to anonymously report suspected human trafficking activity. The platform makes it easy to fill out a report and even add pictures if a witness is able to take them. The STOP APP is available in seven languages and can be used worldwide. The reports made on the app go directly to the STOP THE TRAFFIK database which can assist law enforcement in investigation efforts. STOP THE TRAFFIK is a campaign coalition founded in 2006 that seeks to educate, mobilize and equip communities with the resources they need to end human trafficking.
  3. Good On YouGood On You is another app that can increase human trafficking awareness. This app is an effective way to hold fashion brands accountable. Good On You researches clothing companies and compiles the information into an easy-to-understand score. The scores are based on companies’ commitments to doing better by people, animals and the earth. This includes sustainability efforts, animal testing and the treatment of employees. This app enables consumers to make informed decisions on where they are purchasing clothes and increases brand transparency. If a brand does not appear on the app, Good On You encourages users to reach out to them.
  4. TraffickCam – Specifically created for travelers, this app allows users to photograph their hotel rooms and add them to TraffickCam’s database. Law enforcement can then analyze submitted photos to find human trafficking locations. Traffickers regularly post pictures of sex trafficking victims in hotel rooms for online advertisements. The more pictures added to the database, the more likely law enforcement can track down the hotel. Prosecutors can also use these photos as evidence to convict traffickers. This app was created by Exchange Initiative (EI) in 2015. EI provides resources and educational programs to help fight sex trafficking. The mission of EI is to promote global awareness of sex trafficking and spark action at the local level.
  5. ACT! – ACT! is a game designed to help increase sex-trafficking awareness among junior high and high school students. This is an interactive, story-structured game. In the game, players pick a character and learn about manipulation into sex-trafficking through a friend who is dealing with it. The app asks players to identify red flags in different scenarios and quizzes players on the potential red flags. If stumped, players can use resources such as law enforcement and reference books to help them out. ACT! is a great way to make students aware of manipulation and coercion into sex-trafficking. It can also increase students’ awareness of their peers and potential red flags to look out for.

While they are not the only ones out there, these are apps can increase human trafficking awareness in small, practical ways. They are all free, easy to use and can make all the difference.

– Megan McKeough
Photo: Pxhere

Five Ted Talks About Human TraffickingTED talks about human trafficking help to shine a spotlight on the issues from how to spot examples of trafficking to how to end it. These talks can be a powerful educational tool not only for individuals but also in settings like the classroom and the workplace. Here are five TED Talks about human trafficking.

5 TED Talks about Human Trafficking

  1. “Human Trafficking is All Around You. This is How it Works.” In this talk, Noy Thrupkaew discusses the behind-the-scenes world of human trafficking and its prevalence in ordinary places of business such as nail salons. She shows the human faces behind the exploited labor that feeds global consumerism and breaks down how human trafficking works all around the world.
  2. “Escaping the Pain of Human Trafficking.” Markie Dell is a human trafficking survivor who shares her experience as well as her road to recovery. Dell also talks about the unusual advice from a friend that helped her to heal and reclaim her life.
  3. “Three Ways Businesses Can Fight Sex Trafficking.” Attorney Nikki Clifton points out three ways businesses can fight sex trafficking. She reveals to the audience how sex trafficking happens in the open more than people think. It can occur online, in the middle of the workday or while using company equipment and resources. As she says, this puts companies in a powerful position to mobilize employees and educate them to stop sex trafficking. Hiring sex trafficking survivors and setting clear policies are just some of the ways she says businesses can stop sex trafficking.
  4. “The Fight Against Sex Slavery.” Sunitha Krishnan spends her time leading powerful discussions surrounding the multi-million dollar global sex slavery industry. A longtime ally of sex traffickers, she tells the stories of children of slaves and advocates for a more humane reform to helping survivors rebuild their lives.
  5. “I Was Human Trafficked for 10 Years. We Can Do More to Stop It.” Barbara Amaya courageously tells her story of being human trafficked when she was 12 years old. After running away from home to escape her abusive family, Amaya was “rescued” by a family that locked her into human trafficking for 10 years. Since escaping in 2012, she has raised awareness about the sexual exploitation of children and domestic sex trafficking. Amaya is an anti-trafficking advocate, speaker, trainer, author and survivor leader in the movement to end sex and human trafficking.

By taking just a few minutes to watch these TED talks about human trafficking, people can do something today to prevent human trafficking. Sharing their talks on social media is also a great way to continue the movement of ending human trafficking through education.

Emily Joy Oomen
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 Facts about Human Trafficking in Brazil
Brazil is known as the most developed country in Latin America. The country’s rapid economic growth, coupled with urbanization, is attracting more businesses to invest in Brazil. On top of this, Brazil’s strong tourism industry further bolsters the country’s positive image. However, the presence of human trafficking in Brazil is also a well-known fact throughout the international community. Here are 10 facts about human trafficking in Brazil.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Brazil

  1. Human trafficking in Brazil is linked to forced labor. The recent economic growth and accelerating urbanization in Brazil resulted in labor abuse of migrant workers. Textile, construction and sex industries are especially well known for abusing smuggled migrant workers. In 2013, the Brazilian police identified a Brazilian gang that specialized in trafficking Bangladeshi nationals into Brazil. These smuggled Bangladeshi workers lived in slavery-like conditions in order to pay off nearly $10,000 to their smugglers.
  2. The U.S. Department of State (USDOS) ranked Brazil as a “Tier 2” country. This signifies that the Brazilian government does not fully meet the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking. USDOS does note, however, that the Brazilian government is making significant efforts to remedy the state of human trafficking in Brazil.
  3. Law 13.344 helps to protect and support victims of human trafficking in Brazil. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP) maintained 12 posts at airports and bus stations known as transit points to identify cases. In addition, 17 out of 27 state governments operate anti-trafficking offices that introduce victims to social assistance centers.
  4. The Brazilian government’s definition of human trafficking needs to be improved. While Brazil’s Law 13.344/16 criminalizes all forms of human trafficking with harsh penalties for perpetrators, human trafficking in Brazil is defined as a movement-based crime. This is a limited definition compared to the U.N.’s definition, which states other forms of coercion or monetary persuasion as different forms of human trafficking
  5. The recent crisis in Venezuela leaves many Venezuelan migrants in danger of human trafficking in Brazil.
    The 2010 crisis in Venezuela created a massive exodus of migrants from Venezuela. These Venezuelan migrants in border cities and other parts of Brazil are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor. Traffickers recruited these migrants in Brazil by offering them fraudulent job opportunities.
  6. Child sex tourism is still a major issue. When Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014, many authorities worried that this would worsen the country’s already present child sex industry. The influx of construction workers before the World Cup and an estimated 600,000 foreign visitors unintentionally creates a big market and demand for sex tourism in Brazil. Child sex workers are trafficked both domestically and internationally. In 2016, for example, the Brazilian police rescued eight children from the sex trafficking ring at the beaches near the main Olympic hub.
  7. In March 2019, the Brazilian police took down a trafficking ring that targeted transgender women. The Brazilian police rescued at least 38 transgender women from brothels in Ribeirao Preto, a city in the state of Sao Paulo. The traffickers lured these women in with a promise of paying for their transition surgeries. After the surgery, these women were forced into prostitution in order to pay back their traffickers.
  8. The US law enforcement collaborated with the Brazilian police to capture human traffickers in 2019. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), as part of its Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, cooperated with the Brazilian Federal Police (DOP) to capture three smugglers based in Brazil. The smugglers arranged travel for individuals through a network of smugglers operating in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and many other Latin American countries.
  9. The Brazilian Ministry of Labor (MTE) updated the “lista suja” in 2018 to combat human trafficking in Brazil. Lista suja, meaning “dirty list”, is a document that lists the names of companies that utilize labor that came from human trafficking. In 2018, the Brazilian government added 78 new employers to the list. The companies on the list cannot access credit by public and private financial institutions.
  10. The Brazilian Department of Labor is fighting forced labor through a special task force. Named
    Special Mobile Inspection Group (GEFM), the group was initiated in 1995. GEFM consists of labor inspectors and prosecutors. The group conducts unannounced inspections of factories, farms and firms. The Ministry of Labor reported that, through more than 600 inspections, the task force rescued more than 5000 workers from forced labor between 2013 and 2016.

Human trafficking in Brazil has many faces. Forced labor and prostitution are the main concerns of the Brazilian government when it is dealing with human trafficking in the country. It is clear that the Brazilian
government is striving to remedy the current situation. Laws such as the 13.344/16 help to protect and assist the victims of human trafficking while MTE’s Lista Suja aims to dissuade businesses from utilizing human trafficked labor. With these kinds of continued efforts, human trafficking in Brazil is sure to decrease.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

human trafficking in Africa
Today estimates determine that over 40 million people live in modern-day slavery, making it more rampant than it has ever been in human history. A significant amount of this trafficking takes place in Africa. These 10 facts illustrate what human trafficking in Africa looks like and highlights some organizations that are combatting it.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Africa

  1. Twenty-three percent of global human trafficking takes place in Africa. According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, over 9.2 million people living in Africa are living in modern slavery. This makes up nearly a quarter of all human trafficking around the globe. When it comes to countries within Africa that have the highest amount of victims per 1,000 people, Eritrea has the highest prevalence with 93 victims per 1,000, followed by Burundi with 40 victims and the Central African Republic with 22.3.
  2. Nearly 40 percent of those trafficked in Africa are in forced labor. In Africa, forced labor is the reality for an estimated 37 percent of trafficking victims, according to the Global Slavery Index. Labor trafficking can take on many forms including work in agriculture, mining and fishing industries. Traffickers often force victims to work extensive hours in extremely dangerous conditions and potentially abusive environments with little to no pay.
  3. Over half of human trafficking victims in Africa are in a forced marriage. In Africa, traffickers force an estimated 63 percent of victims into marriage without their consent, many of whom are children. According to the International Labour Office, forced marriage of young girls and women can be in exchange for money, paying off debt or to settle disputes among families. Forced marriage can result in sexual and physical abuse, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. According to the Human Rights Watch, Africa and other governments included ending child marriage as one of the targets in the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Since then, UNICEF says several African countries have started to create and utilize preventative action plans and strategies to address child marriage.
  4. A lot is still unknown about human trafficking in special case countries. Libya and Somalia are both special case countries according to the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report. In other words, it is impossible to accurately measure the extent of trafficking due to extensive conflict in the area. It is Libya’s fourth consecutive year to have this classification. Violence and unrest in the region have led to a lack of authority and law enforcement, making it difficult to track human trafficking and combat it. Somalia has been a special case country for 17 consecutive years now, facing ongoing insecurity and a humanitarian crisis. Conflict in the area has continuously hindered efforts to prevent human trafficking.
  5. No African country fully meets the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. These minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) that the U.S. Department of State set includes four main parameters. These include prohibiting severe forms of trafficking, punishing trafficking crimes accordingly and making serious efforts to eliminate modern-day slavery. While no African countries fully meet these minimum standards, 19 are on the Tier 2 Watch List. According to the U.S. State Department, this means they are “making significant efforts” to comply with the TVPA’s standards.
  6. Over half of those suffering exploitation for labor are in debt bondage. According to Anti-Slavery International, debt bondage is the most common form of modern slavery. Through debt bondage, traffickers force victims to work in order to pay off a debt. However, in most cases, traffickers make debts impossible to pay off by giving laborers insufficient compensation or none at all. According to the Global Slavery Index, debt bondage accounts for 54 percent of people exploited for their labor in Africa.
  7. Over 400,000 people in Africa are victims of sexual exploitation. This accounts for 8 percent of forced sexual exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation of children around the globe. According to the International Labour Office, women and girls account for over 99 percent of these victims. 21 percent of all victims are children under the age of 18. These victims are men and women who traffickers have exploited for commercial sex. In some cases, victims may have voluntarily entered the industry but are not able to leave.
  8. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has the highest absolute number of human trafficking victims. Over one-quarter (26.3 percent) of all victims of human trafficking in Africa are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the U.S. Department of State, although the DRC government is not making significant efforts to end trafficking, it has made some progress. The government of the DRC has taken steps to prevent the use of child soldiers and has repatriated several trafficking victims. Congolese law has also criminalized all forms of sex trafficking, but only some forms of labor trafficking.
  9. South Africa launched the Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons National Policy Framework. South Africa is not only a major destination for human trafficking but according to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), many also consider it a transit country for trafficking in North America and Europe. In 2019, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in South Africa created a framework of the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. This National Policy Framework (NPF) engages governmental organizations as well as civil stakeholders in anti-trafficking efforts and aims to strengthen the criminal justice system in regards to human trafficking in South Africa. This framework is a four-year initiative in collaboration with the European Union and the UNODC.
  10. People traffick thousands of children on Lake Volta. Lake Volta is the world’s largest man-made lake and is essential to Ghana’s expansive fishing industry. According to the International Justice Mission (IJM), thousands of children work on this lake, many of whom traffickers force to work against their will. Often, traffickers force these children to do dangerous tasks such as untangling fishing nets and deep diving. The majority of trafficking victims are 10 years old or younger. Violence and starvation are common among these young trafficking victims and many are hard for the government to track as they are working on unregistered boats.  Since 2015, IJM has been able to rescue 164 victims from Lake Volta’s fishing industry and continues to partner with Ghana’s criminal justice system to bring traffickers to justice.

Human trafficking in Africa is a serious problem. However, with the help of organizations like the UNODC and IJM, awareness of modern-day slavery in Africa is increasing. The new legislation is helping to protect vulnerable populations and many African countries are joining the fight to end modern-day slavery.

– Megan McKeough
Photo: Flickr

The State of Venezuelan Sex TraffickingThe recent collapse of Venezuela’s economy and political stability has made the headlines of many news outlets. The controversial reelection of President Nicholas Maduro in May 2018 plunged Venezuela back into violent protests and demonstrations. As of June 2019, more than four million people had fled from Venezuela’s deteriorating conditions. In this mass exodus, women and children are especially vulnerable to Venezuelan sex trafficking.

Venezuelan Sex Trafficking

Venezuela’s sex traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Venezuela. More than four million Venezuelans are fleeing from their country, according to the Refugee International’s 2019 field report. The recent influx of Venezuelans fleeing their country presents a new boom in Venezuela’s sex and human trafficking. Neighboring countries, mainly Colombia, Brazil, Tobago, Trinidad and Ecuador, have experience receiving refugees from Venezuela.

What makes the situation especially difficult is the sheer number of refugees who are fleeing from Venezuela. The Brazilian Ministry of Justice reported that there were 2,577 refugee status requests made between 2016 and 2017 for the state of Amazonas. This makes up 12.8 percent of the requests made nationwide.

This increase in the number of people attempting to leave the country makes it hard for many Venezuelan refugees to use the legal pathways. Many Venezuelan refugees utilize illegal means, such as the black market or illegal armed groups, to escape their country.

In June 2019, a story of Venezuelan refugees shipwrecked near Trinidad and Tobago brought the dark underbelly of Venezuelan sex trafficking to light. Traffickers in the first shipwreck included members of the Bolivarian National Guard and a member of Venezuela’s maritime authority. These individuals were arrested after a survivor of the shipwreck spoke out against them.

Survivors of the second shipwreck testified that the traffickers charged $250 and $500 to everyone aboard the boat headed for Trinidad and Tobago. In both cases, captains of the boats concealed the fact that the women and children were headed to Trinidad and Tobago to work as prostitutes. Venezuelan women and children are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking in Colombia and Ecuador, according to the U.S. Department of State’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons report.

Venezuelan Refugees Entering Colombia

Venezuelan sex trafficking is not limited to domestic trafficking. Many Venezuelan female refugees entering Colombia are in danger of sexual exploitation. Since Colombia’s legal requirements to enter the country are very strict, many Venezuelan refugees resort to informal routes and illegal armed groups to enter Colombia. In the Refugee International’s 2019 investigation, many refugees testified that women and girls are forced to pay for their safe passage through sexual services to traffickers.

After entering Colombia through illicit means, Venezuelan refugees must live without any proper identification. As refugees without any identification or means to support themselves, many Venezuelan women turn to street prostitution in order to make ends meet.

The Colombian government is taking steps to register these refugees. Colombia passed Act 985, which created the Interagency Committee for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons (ICFTP).  The ICFTP works with 88 anti-trafficking committees, which work with many NGOs to train police, government officials and law officials in identifying victims and providing legal assistance to human trafficking victims. Colombia also plans to grant citizenship to 24,000 undocumented Venezuelan children who were born in the country. Experts believe that this will reduce the reliance of refugees on illicit organizations in order to escape Venezuela.

The Quito Process

In September 2019, multiple Latin American countries came together in the Declaration of Quito on Human Mobility of Venezuelan Citizens. In the declaration, participating countries agreed to bolster cooperation, communication and coordination in collective humanitarian assistance for the Venezuelan refugees.

Part of the Quito Process’ goal is to prevent Venezuelan sex trafficking and assist the victims of sex trafficking in Latin America. By streamlining and coordinating documentation required in acquiring legal resident status, the Quito Process makes it easier for participating countries to more effectively assist Venezuelan refugees.

Experts recommend the participating countries further investigate and understand the demographics of Venezuelan refugees. Since many refugees escape to other countries for financial stability, experts recommend that participating countries work to make obtaining a stable job easier.

The Colombian government has been credited for its adherence and furthering of the Quito Process. In March 2019 Colombia fulfilled its commitment to the second Quito conference by allowing Venezuelan refugees to enter Colombia with expired passports. In addition, experts are demanding increased rights for displaced refugees in the hosting countries of the Quito Process.

The crisis in Venezuela is increasing Venezuelan sex trafficking. Venezuelan women and young girls are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking and exploitation. While the current situation is grim, it is clear that South American countries are coming together to remedy the current situation. Through the Quito Process, they are working to assist Venezuelan human trafficking victims and eliminate the sex trafficking of Venezuelan refugees. With these efforts, the international community hopes for a quick end to the Venezuelan crisis.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Russia
Human trafficking is one of the most critical humanitarian issues of the century and virtually operates everywhere in the world. It involves the transport of persons, who are either entirely unwilling or misinformed about their destination, to a new place, usually to engage in forced labor or prostitution. Currently, Russia is facing a human trafficking crisis and yet, it is doing little to prevent this issue and protect those human trafficking already affects. Here are 10 facts about human trafficking in Russia.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Russia

  1. Economic Crisis: The fall of the Soviet Union exacerbated human trafficking in Russia. With the economic crisis in Russia, employment in the country decreased and travel restrictions meant that employers could not fill several jobs legally. These conditions made a lucrative niche for human traffickers. 
  2. Tier 3 Country: The U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report ranks Russia as a Tier 3 country, or one where the government does not meet the standards to eliminate trafficking. In addition, it is not making significant efforts to eradicate trafficking.
  3. Human Trafficking Law: Russia only has one law that criminalizes human trafficking. Russia passed the law in 2003 under President Vladimir Putin but it does nothing other than label human trafficking illegal. Meanwhile, all the other countries previously part of the Soviet Union have passed over 100 laws against human trafficking. The lack of strong legislation makes it more difficult to arrest, incriminate and convict perpetrators of human trafficking in Russia.
  4. Cities: The dominant use of trafficking is for labor so traffickers concentrate most victims in larger cities, like Moscow and St. Petersburg. These areas have not only the large population to mask a victim’s presence, but also house companies and factories where they can work.
  5. Russia’s 2016 Statistics: In 2016, the Global Slavery Index reported that there were more than one million human trafficking victims in Russia. Out of all these cases, only 38 traffickers received convictions as of 2013. Following these statistics in 2016, Russia ceased providing information on prosecution and victim rehabilitation to the United States’ Trafficking in Persons report.
  6. Exploitable Workforces: Many victims of human trafficking become members of exploitable workforces. For example, during the FIFA World Cup in Russia, many construction workers could have suffered trafficking, but instead, their employers denied them wages and forced them to work in brutally cold conditions. Agencies that lie about the quality and nature of the work first recruit these victims and force them to stay in Russia. These circumstances fit the qualifications for modern-day slavery.
  7. Treatment of Victims: People in Russia treat trafficking victims as criminals and the victims receive little to no protection. The public and the government see them as willing illegal immigrants. In a survey, 41 percent of Russian citizens responded that those who had ensured trafficking and were working in the prostitution industry were to blame for their own conditions. This lack of public sympathy for victims makes passing more substantial legislation difficult for politicians and keeps it acceptable for authorities to prosecute, detain and deport victims without knowledge of their circumstances.
  8. Prosecution of Government Officials: In recent years, there have been criminal cases against government officials for facilitating human trafficking in Russia. Namely, officials allegedly accepted bribes from employers to halt investigations, protected traffickers and returned victims to their captors. Although nothing came of these cases, the fact that courts hear the cases at all is an important step.
  9. Organizations that Help: There is very little government funding or organizations for rehabilitation and protection of victims. Most of the work to help victims happens through NGOs or international groups, such as the Russian Red Cross or Help Services for Nigerians in Russia.
  10. Challenges of Catching Traffickers: In cases of sex trafficking, catching perpetrators can be difficult because of the consequences women face for speaking up. In addition to bringing up painful memories, talking to law enforcement bears the risk of them returning the women to traffickers, as well as communities ostracizing them.

Despite the current inaction of the Russian government in response to the human trafficking crisis, pressure from activists within the country and outside of it could help create substantial change. Not only would this assist current victims, but it would make eradicating human trafficking in Russia a real possibility.

– Anna Sarah Langlois
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Vietnam
Vietnam, one of the four remaining communist countries in the world, is making remarkable progress in reducing hunger and poverty. From one of the poorest nations in the world with most of the population living below the poverty line, the nation has developed into a middle-income country. The poverty rate decreased from over 70 percent of the population to below 6 percent in just over 30 years after economic reforms in 1986.

Despite this positive outlook of the economy and the remarkable progress, not everyone is able to enjoy this new-found wealth. It is still a challenge for the government to tackle poverty for the ethnic minorities living in remote mountainous areas or areas prone to natural disasters where poverty most concentrates. It is also this population that has the most vulnerable and desperate individuals that become the victims of human trafficking. These 10 facts about human trafficking in Vietnam illustrate the possible source of the problem, as well as the attempts and efforts to fight against it.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Vietnam

  1. A Source Country: Vietnam is a predominant source country of human trafficking and also a destination country, mainly for Cambodian migrants. The Vietnamese government identified about 7,500 victims of human trafficking between 2012 and 2017, with 80 percent of the victims coming from remote ethnic communities. The statistics available are likely an underestimate due to a lack of an accurate system of data collection, as well as the unwillingness to report the exploitation of many returning victims.
  2. Victims: Victims of human trafficking often come from a poor, vulnerable or broken family and lack education or awareness of human trafficking. Traffickers often exploit the fragility of these people and utilize the internet, using gaming sites and social media to approach potential victims. Men might also entice women and young girls into relationships to gain their trust. These men then persuade the victims to move abroad where they subject them to sex trafficking or forced labor.
  3. Industries: Men and women trafficked from Vietnam often work in logging, construction, mining, fishing, agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors. The employers of these workers situate mainly in Japan, Angola, Laos, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. There is also an increasing trend of human trafficking to countries further away in the Middle East and Europe. Recently, traffickers have sent an influx of people to the U.K. to work on cannabis farms.
  4. Children: Traffickers coerce children as young as 6 to work in garment factories under exploitative conditions. Within the country, they may force children to beg or hawk on the streets in urban areas. Reports also show an overall rise in the number of children trafficked and sexually exploited due to high demand in Vietnam.
  5. Child Sex Tourism: Vietnam is becoming a popular destination country for child sex tourism, attracting perpetrators from Japan, South Korea, the U.K., Europe and the U.S. This increasing demand has caused a rise in cases of child trafficking. A study has estimated that 5.6 percent of children in Vietnam have had experiences related to child trafficking. The Vietnamese government is putting in increased efforts to prevent sexual exploitation of children (SEC) by promoting and implementing children’s rights by devising new legislation, strengthening national children protection systems, as well as educating and raising awareness of the public on SEC-related issues.
  6. Prostitution and Domestic Servitude: A large percentage of Vietnamese women and children work in forced prostitution or domestic servitude through fraudulent job opportunities or brokered marriage. Traffickers often sell them at the border, and later on, transport them to China, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore for physical and sexual exploitations.
  7. Corruption: Corruption is pervasive in Vietnam. There is evidence showing officials and police taking bribes and colluding with organized criminals, traffickers included. A survey by Transparency International reported that 30 percent of people paid bribes to public services in Vietnam and that they believed the police to be the most corrupt institution in the country. This has tremendously complicated the efforts of tackling human trafficking.
  8. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Vietnamese government is maintaining efforts in combating trafficking but has come across some issues due to lack of funding and inter-ministerial coordination. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized training courses and workshops to improve the capacity of officials to prevent human trafficking and assist the victims. The authority also organizes campaigns and distributes flyers to raise public awareness, targeting high-risk groups in border areas and vulnerable communities. The number of trafficking victims that authorities identified in 2018 was 490, a significant decrease from 670 in 2017 and 1,128 in 2016.
  9. Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation: Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, or Blue Dragon, is an NGO that addresses the human trafficking problem in Vietnam. It focusses on cases of forced child labor as well as trafficking for sexual exploitation of Vietnamese women and girls. The organization has rescued and assisted around 130 women and children annually from labor exploitation and sex trafficking. It also provides training for police, border guards and officials in child rights and combating trafficking.
  10. The Peace House: The Vietnamese Center for Women and Development manages the Peace House to provide support for victims of domestic abuse or human trafficking. It provides shelters, consultation, education and vocational training for women and children, as well as organizes campaigns to raise public awareness about gender equality and human trafficking. Since its opening, the Peace House has provided shelters for more than 1,200 victims and helped more than 1,100 re-integrate into society.

Many Vietnamese people’s desire for a better quality of life has driven them to the hands of human traffickers, subjecting them to physical and sexual exploitation abroad. These people are often initially the victims of poverty, vulnerable and desperate.

These 10 facts about human trafficking in Vietnam provide an overview of the problem and how Vietnam is handling it. Providing assistance and protection to victims of human trafficking as well as raising public awareness are all essential measures. A sustainable solution to combatting human trafficking is to get to the root of the problem: poverty. When good opportunities are available in local communities, there would be less demand to migrate elsewhere, thus decreasing the chance of falling victim to human trafficking.

– Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

 Technology's Role in Human Trafficking
The United States Department of Justice defines human trafficking as a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services or commercial sex. Tactics for recruiting victims have existed since the dawn of time with vulnerable people, forced or coerced into trafficking. Those most at risk for recruiting include vulnerable demographics. This includes groups such as homeless people or runaways, domestic violence victims, undocumented and documented immigrants. The internet has made the facilitation of human trafficking easier, but it has also improved circumstances for victims and survivors. This article will highlight technology’s role in human trafficking.

Technology’s Role in Human Trafficking

Prior to the use of technology and in some areas where access to the internet is limited, recruiters depend on personal social networks, the lure of wealth and romantic relationships to recruit victims. In addition, women and girls, already involved with the trafficker and known as bottoms, will assist the trafficker in recruiting other victims.

One way in which technology changes this dynamic is by allowing recruiters to operate through the veil of anonymity. Traffickers often conduct conversations via the Dark Web. According to Europol’s Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment from the year 2015, 40 percent of criminal-to-criminal payments take place in Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency without a central bank.

Anyone can become a sex trafficking victim because access to the internet furthers the reach and influence of a trafficker. If they are unable to take advantage of socioeconomic vulnerability, then they will be able to use a potential victim’s naivete in online interactions to their advantage. Further exploitation of the victim often includes threats of using commercial sex acts that people have documented. Traffickers might threaten to expose the images, which is a fairly common exploitation tactic. Laws against nonconsensual pornography or revenge porn are increasing, although New York’s laws need improvements.

Tracking Victims

Technology’s role in human trafficking becomes increasingly disturbing, considering the abilities to track the victim’s every move. This could potentially involve the use of GPS technology; however, traffickers have gone as far as embedding GPS tracker chips into their victim’s bodies. An article in Principia Scientific International, which is legally registered in the United Kingdom as a company incorporated for charitable purposes, detailed the story of a doctor x-raying a patient who had handed him a note saying, “I have a tracker in me.” Both the doctor and the victim in the story chose to remain anonymous for safety reasons. This is especially alarming considering an RFID chip was, in fact, embedded in the victim. Often used for pets, RFID chips, short for radio frequency identification, utilize electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to object.

The Bill: AB226

On March 4, 2019, KOLO-TV featured a story regarding the bill, AB226. The bill would ban forced human microchipping. Democratic Assemblyman, Skip Daly, presented the bill at a legislative hearing in Carson City. The network stated that it wanted to show the story after a Wisconsin company offered optional implantable microchips to its employees. Many of the people interviewed for the story appeared to believe that this issue had science fiction overtones. They further stated that “no good could come of (the use of microchips).” This implies the ambiguity of the results of such a procedure and presents issues that could possibly occur in the future.

However, the story of the victim at the doctor’s office signals that this could be a present-day issue. Despite this fact, most do not hear of the issue. It is unknown how many other victims have had microchips implanted into their bodies. Technology’s role in human trafficking seems bleak so far; however, when people use technology correctly, it can be a powerful tool in anti-trafficking efforts. Further, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore created the company, Thorn. The company “house(s) the first engineering and data science team focused solely on developing new technologies to combat online child sexual abuse.” Despite these positive efforts, human trafficking continues to be an alarming issue globally.

Julia Stephens
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Human Trafficking in El Salvador
El Salvador is the most densely populated nation in Central America, with a population of 6.375 million people and the size of 21,041 kilometers squared. Citizens of El Salvador are impacted by daily petty crimes such as thieft and pickpocketing, as well as more intense gang violence. El Salvador has the fifth-highest murder rate in the world, mainly caused by gang violence. Many gangs also partake in human trafficking, exploiting victims both domestically and abroad. These 10 facts about human trafficking in El Salvador aim to shed light on the main perpetrators, as well as steps taken to combat these abuses.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in El Salvador

  1. Women, children, and LGBTQ people are at a higher risk of exploitation than men. Traffickers will often exploit El Salvadorans, as well as citizens from neighboring countries such as Nicaragua and Guatemala, who fall into those demographics. Transgender people are particularly at risk for sex trafficking as they are often dehumanized and fetishized in Latin America and other parts of the world.

  2. According to the United States Department of State, El Salvador does not currently meet the bare minimum standards for combating human trafficking. The government has made some small efforts, such as investigating an allegedly complicit government official and providing psychiatric services to female victims. These small efforts demonstrate a willingness to be on the right track, which makes El Salvador a strong candidate for potential growth in combating human trafficking.

  3. Gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha, more commonly known as MS-13, lure women into trafficking by offering them jobs. Women from poor backgrounds are baited and then forced into sex slavery. Experts are weary to pinpoint gangs as the main source for trafficking, as there is evidence of government officials and other people in power who also partake in trafficking whether for sexual or labor purposes.

  4. The Human trafficking network in El Salvador involves a lot of different members from the private sector, including transportation, tourism, media, entertainment and legal industries. Bus drivers, taxi drivers and truck drivers all take part in transporting victims. The media industry is also used to recruit victims by advertising fake jobs in newspapers and on the radio. These advertising methods are usually aimed at the aforementioned demographics, as they are often the most vulnerable in communities.

  5. The public sector is also very much involved in trafficking networks. Often, immigrants, police and other civil servants aid traffickers. Public officials provide false birth certificates and other legal documents. Border enforcement patrols are easily bribed into allowing victims to be trafficked to other countries. Suspects in human trafficking cases are often protected by public officials.

  6. The average age of trafficked victims ranges from between 9 to 15 years old. Teenagers and children are often recruited at school or within their own communities. Traffickers are able to brainwash children because of their young age, making them more malleable. Children are trained to murder, sell drugs or sell their bodies. Girls, in particular, are harassed and forced into relationships with gang members. Children are physically harassed, assaulted, threatened until they have no choice but to join a gang.

  7. Florida is the top destination for trafficked victims from El Salvador. Florida has high demands for human slaves, including both sex and labor slaves. Victims from El Salvador are forced into the commercial sex industry with the demand to make a profit for their traffickers. Victims are threatened to the point that they have no other choice but to comply.

  8. The root of human trafficking is the demand for victims. People are trafficked not because of the needs of human traffickers, but because of the demand of people who will pay for human services. In El Salvador, this manifests itself through a demand for prostitution and stripping. The growth of gang networks and the tourism industry has led to sec trafficking in El Salvador to become a multinational scheme.

  9. Many organizations are working to combat sex trafficking in El Salvador. The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) started a campaign in 2013 called Tu Voz, which acmes to educate, alert, and support young people who are vulnerable to trafficking. The PADF worked with many other organizations to create the campaign, including MTV Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank and its youth network (BID Juventud) and the Cinepolis Foundation (largest movie complex franchise in Latin America).

  10. The campaign has been incredibly successful so far, with over 150,000 people reached across 200 awareness events. Also, MTV produced and screened an anti-human trafficking documentary called “Invisible Slaves,” which had a successful impact across youth in danger of trafficking. The campaign also strengthened vulnerable youth to become activists against human trafficking. The success of the campaign demonstrates how empowering awareness and education campaigns can be, in combating some of the biggest villains in El Salvador.

Overall, minorities and women are the most vulnerable to be trafficked. There are many factors involved such as demand and poverty that contribute towards the human trafficking market. These 10 facts about human trafficking in El Salvador aimed to cover some of the reasons for the prominence of human trafficking in the region, as well as steps being taken to combat human trafficking. There has been an increase in effort from the international community, as well as the government of El Salvador to put an end to human trafficking. Education, advocacy and activism can all help to put an end to the atrocities of human trafficking in El Salvador.

– Laura Phillips-Alvarez
Photo: Flickr