Human Trafficking
There are several types of human trafficking, and they all have a common denominator: an abuse of the intrinsic vulnerability of the victims.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the treat or use of force or other forms of coercion.”

Trafficking of individuals is a serious crime and a heinous violation of human rights.

“Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims,” said the UN.

The following are various categories linked to human trafficking:

Sex Trafficking

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime suggested that 53 percent of the victims are forced into sexual exploitation. “Sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, or harboring of persons through threat, use of force, or other coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This includes movement across borders, as well as within the victim’s own country,” affirmed Human Trafficking Search.

The International Labour Organization estimated that there is a worldwide profit of $100 billion for forced commercial sexual exploitation.

Additionally, “the perceived inferior status of women in many parts of the world has contributed to the expansion of the trafficking industry,” confirmed Human Trafficking Search.

Involuntary Domestic Servitude

Involuntary servitude happens when a domestic worker becomes enslaved in an exploitative position they are incapable of escaping.

“Domestic servitude is the seemingly normal practice of live-in help that is used as a cover for the exploitation and control of someone, usually from another country. It is a form of forced labor, but it also warrants its own category of slavery because of the unique contexts and challenges it presents,” said End Slavery Now.

Forced Labor

According to Human Trafficking Search, “Forced labor is work or service that is extorted from someone under the menace of any penalty and work or service that the person has not offered voluntarily.”

The International Labour Organization estimated that approximately 20.9 million people are enslaved to forced labor, and 4.5 are subjected to sexual forced exploitation.

Debt Bondage

“Debt bondage is a type of forced labor, involving a debt that cannot be paid off in a reasonable time,” said Human Trafficking Search. It is a period of debt during which there is no freedom, consequently, it is also known as debt slavery.

Child Soldiers

Child soldiers are described as persons under the age of 18, who have been recruited by armed forces in any capacity. Currently, there are thousands of soldiers worldwide.

“The definition includes both boys and girls who are used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies, or for sexual purposes,” added Human Trafficking Search.

Child Sex Trafficking

There are approximately 1.8 million children subjected to prostitution or pornography globally.

The Human Trafficking Search defined it as “a sexual exploitation by an adult with respect to a child, usually accompanied by a payment to the child or one or more third parties.”

Child Labor

A child is considered to be involved in child labor activities if this minor is between the ages of 0 and 18, is involved in a type of work inappropriate for their age and in a dangerous work environment.

However, there are several forms of child labor. The most common ones are related to the informal sector of the economy and are linked to agricultural labor, mining, construction and begging in the streets.

Said by the Polaris Project, “human trafficking is a form of modern slavery – a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world. And no matter where you live, chances are it’s happening nearby. From the girl forced into prostitution at a truck stop, to the man discovered in a restaurant kitchen, stripped of his passport and held against his will. All trafficking victims share one essential experience: the loss of freedom.”

Isabella Rolz

Sources: Human Trafficking Search, UNODC, End Slavery Now, Polaris Project, United Nations, International Labour Organization

There are 2.2 billion children in the world. One billion of those children live in poverty. Each day 22,000 children die from poverty and it is the rural areas that account for 75% of the world’s population living on less than $1 per day. The bulk of impoverished communities are found in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In brothels and small villages, generational prostitution occurs out of need. It is considered to be a strategic method of survival for those experiencing severe poverty.

One percent of the population of women in India are sex workers, accounting for 6,230, 000 people. Among that population, over 90% of the sex workers experience generational prostitution. In the Indian culture, in some castes it is traditional to engage in familial prostitution. The caste system in India is quite strong, and, therefore, most children will never have the opportunity for education, or non-sexually based work. Most sex workers are born into it. In many areas in India, women have very little chance to escape the ramifications of being poor, regardless of a caste system or not.

Prostitution in India is an accepted way of life and it is confirmed through societal norms. Generational prostitution occurs at almost every brothel. Most brothels are owned by women who were former sex workers, who now employ their children because sexually enslaving one’s children is seen as a means to avoid living in complete poverty. The sex industry provides a large amount income for urban areas. In New Delhi alone, $2 million is the annual profit of the sex and brothel workers. The average client pays $2.

In the village of Nat Purwa, India, the population suffers from abject poverty. In this community, prostitution is considered to be a hereditary occupation, passed on from one generation of women to the next. As a result of the “family dimension” to the sex trade, men are often involved, which makes sex work an important aspect of the family economy. Women and female children who sell themselves are often the family’s only source of income. Women are purchased for 500 rupees, or $8, and girls aged between 12 and 16 are purchased for 2,000 rupees or $32 dollars. Other villages that are similar to Nat Purwa are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Bedias, Faasi and Banjar.

Generational prostitution is occurring around the globe in various countries even outside the areas of Asia and Africa, where it occurs most often. In Russia, married women work as prostitutes in full view and with encouragement from their husbands. Often, a husband will suggest this type of work for his wife and any female children they have.

The issue of global poverty needs to be addressed in order to address issues of human rights injustices, including generational prostitution. Generations to come are predetermined to their fate of becoming sex workers. Efforts to end this epidemic have made many countries strengthen their laws against human sex trafficking, prostitution and the purchasing of sex. In both Sweden and Norway, the purchase of sexual services has been made illegal. Studies from those countries indicate that having these new laws has had a profound impact on demand, causing human sex trafficking to decrease significantly. Proven results in other countries indicate that methods to curtail sex working as a generational means of survival is feasible.

Erika Wright

Sources: Al Jazeera, Ashraya, BBC, Global Issues, PBS, Swasthya Mundial
Photo: Business Insider

Fear dominates the lives of young girls who live in brothels. They are silenced and commanded by an oppressor who beats, rapes and threatens them. They are sold and minimized to property. With this lifestyle, how can they hope for freedom, or even hope?

On July 2, 2015, Mike Rutter and George Cook completed a 3,000-mile bike ride across the United States. Their reason for the 40-day ride? To raise awareness of human trafficking victims and extreme poverty.

The pair began their endeavor in Santa Monica, California on May 24. The cycling tour, Break the Chains, was a mission to raise money and attention for victims of poverty and violence.

According to the U.S. Department of State, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year.

George Cook says he first realized this was such a problem when he was 13 and noticed shackles hanging in a money manager’s office. The manager told him, “Oh, those are for a slave.” Cook says he was dumbfounded, thinking “Lincoln freed the slaves,” so where were they now? The manager responded, “Well it’s going on all over the world with people being bought and sold and held in captivity.”

Like Cook, Rutter also learned about human trafficking and poverty firsthand. Remembering his first trip to India, he says, “[A child] begged me for his survival. He was surrounded by other children just like him—a generation plagued by the cycle of poverty, something most of us can’t understand.”

Rutter said, “We are simply riding a bike, but through that simple act, we have the opportunity to change a life.”

Working with Bright Hope, an organization that strives to offer opportunity and hope to those who live on less than one dollar a day, the pair provides voices for the victims who are unable to speak for themselves.

On their 40-day bike ride, the pair was followed by a 24-foot RV that was painted with the Break the Chains logo. At every stop, the men received questions and interest.

When asked how they powered through 90 miles each day in varying weather elements, Rutter said, “The girls we are trying to do this for, they don’t have a choice what’s happening to them that day so we’re going to plow ahead.”

To help motivate them further, they ride with pictures of the girls with their stories written on the back. Rutter said it was a reminder that although they may be going through a bit of pain, “it’s nothing compared to the pain that these victims go through on a daily basis.”

Throughout their tour, Cook and Rutter hoped to raise $1 million. With these donations, they plan to train more police officers to bring brothel owners to justice, as well as establish rehabilitation centers for the children that they rescue.

Cook recognizes the correlation between poverty and human trafficking. He says, “Where there is poverty, people do not have the money to pay for a detective or prosecutor. They don’t have money and can barely survive so they get taken advantage of.”

In addition to working with Bright Hope, the pair works closely with the International Justice Mission (IJM), which rescues and assists victims of violence.

On July 2, Cook and Rutter completed the 3,000 miles in Sandy Point State Park in Maryland. They raised $256,592 dollars.

To learn more or donate to the cause, visit

– Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Facebook, International Justice Mission, Youtube, The Emporia Gazette, Wish TV
Photo: Cops

Thousands of Bangladeshi refugees are escaping impoverished conditions and ethnic Rohingya are fleeing religious persecution. Human traffickers masquerading as smugglers promised them safe passage to Malaysia, but then held them for ransom on the border between Thailand and Malaysia until their families paid up huge sums of money.

Thailand has recently cracked down on human trafficking rings, especially after finding mass graves in the jungles on the border with Malaysia. Because of this, the Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian governments refused to allow smuggling ships to land on their shores, causing thousands of refugees to find themselves adrift at sea on boats with little resources or food.

However, the people of Aceh, a city in Indonesia, could not ignore the suffering of these refugees. They allowed the boats to land on their shores, defying their government and welcoming the burden of 2,000 starving, impoverished people. Many Acehnese have suffered decades of political turmoil as well as the 2004 tsunami that caused immeasurable damage. Many refugees settled at a port called Kuala Langsa, which is currently housing 425 Bangladeshi and 231 Rohingya migrants. “I feel that they are part of our family, part of Acehnese society, because they have suffered as much as us. It’s better if they stay permanently here,” says a Aceh native and restaurant owner who has provided meals to the refugees. Many agree, saying Aceh is the safest place for them to settle.

The citizens of Aceh even held a concert to help raise funds for the recent migrants. The event was organized by Rafly, a local singer and political figure. It was also a Pemulia Jamee, or traditional Indonesian ceremony to honor guests. Rafly has remarked that he hopes the migrants stay in Aceh.

Before successful landing in Aceh, migrants say they were turned away by the Thai government three times and the Malaysian government twice. The second refusal by the Malaysian government came with a threat that it would bomb their ship if they did not turn away.

Back in Bangladesh, prospects for change are bleak. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina calls the Rohingya “mentally sick” and “tainting the image of the country” by escaping their government-controlled impoverishment, which limits their access to medical care and education. Rohyinga people are Muslim and reside in Rakhine state in western Myanmar. 140,000 remain in tent camps since their hometowns were destroyed by state-sanctioned fundamentalist Buddhists who view the Rohingya as Bangladeshi settlers.

Shortly after Aceh welcomed its refugees, Malaysia and Indonesia issued a statement saying the two countries would provide food and shelter to the 7,000 people who remained floating on the Straits of Malacca, provided these people seek permanent homes after a year.

– Jenny Wheeler

Sources: IRIN, Aljazeera
Photo: NY Daily News

The Indian education system is steadily improving, thanks in part to the Right to Education Act passed in 2009. This granted free education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14. Now, 98 percent of children in India are enrolled in primary school. But this number does not tell the full story.

Many students in India still slip between the cracks — namely, female students. 62 percent of out-of-school children are female, as are two-thirds of illiterate citizens between the ages of 15 and 24. Furthermore, female students are much more likely to face harassment at school, which contributes to their increased dropout rates.

In 2010, Robin Chauraysia founded the Kranti organization, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) specifically working to educate and empower girls who were born in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red light district. Established by the British in the 1700s, Kamathipura is one of the world’s oldest and largest red light districts. Here, over 10,000 women from all over India and nearby countries, such as Nepal and Bangladesh, work as prostitutes. Most have been trafficked, sold by relatives or trapped by men who promised them a better life in Mumbai. New arrivals to Kamathipura are often kept captive and blackmailed into staying. These women become stuck in the industry, as other employers discriminate against working and former prostitutes, and will not even hire them for simple jobs such as cleaning.

Chauraysia’s goal in starting the Kranti organization was to give these girls the same opportunities and education as more fortunate children and help them grow up to become leaders. Due to the extra support most students require, as well as the need to serve differing education levels, Kranti exists outside of the formal school system. However, the girls are encouraged to attend formal schooling when they feel ready. All girls receive therapy upon entering Kranti, which incorporates both cognitive-based methods and more creative practices, such as art or dance-movement therapy. They also work on improving their relationships with their mothers, who they are often taught to be ashamed of because of their profession.

Eventually, girls begin attending classes in a wide range of subjects. All students practice meditation and journal writing every day. They also learn math, reading, music, current events and creative thinking. At the center of the Kranti curriculum are multiple social justice units, covering topics such as caste, class, religion, the environment, gender, sexuality and women’s rights. The girls learn about the roots of India’s most pervasive social justice issues and where progress needs to be made. They work on projects around these units and offer creative solutions to the problems presented. They are also required to choose one physical extracurricular, such as karate or kickboxing, and one artistic extracurricular like photography or painting.

“Kranti” is the Hindi word for “revolution,” and the girls are traveling the world to spread the stories of their own personal revolutions. Kranti takes three to five trips each year, some around India and some abroad, in order to connect with other NGOs and lead workshops. The girls also wrote a play titled “Lal Batti Express,” or “Red Light Express,” about their stories of struggling and surviving. The play focuses on their experiences with discrimination and dealing with the stigma of their background. They are currently touring across the United States, performing at theaters and schools in New York and Los Angeles, a jail in Washington, D.C. and a domestic violence support group in Chicago. Kranti is also working with the Utah-based nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad, which helps rescue children from sex slavery.

When it comes to getting an education, women in India often face obstacles. But as the girls who were given a second chance with Kranti spread their message of revolution, they prove that it is possible for children of any background to succeed with the right support.

– Jane Harkness

Sources: GOOD Magazine, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, Kranti, KSL, NBC
Photo: The Guardian

Poverty and trafficking
According to the United Nations Department of Defense and Crime, the definition of trafficking in persons’ means “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.” 

Poverty is a compelling factor in the human trafficking industry.

Human Trafficking occurs in every single country on the globe. It is a global epidemic driven by poverty. The most common countries to which victims are exported are in Western Europe, Western Africa, Asia, Arab Nations and North America. The highest destination countries are Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey and the U.S. The main countries of origin of victims are Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern European countries, former Eastern bloc and Soviet Union countries, Latin America and the Caribbean. The most prevalent among the main countries are Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Lithuania, Nigeria, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Thailand and Ukraine, each with large populations affected by extreme poverty.

Wealth versus poverty is an indicator of migration and trafficked catalysts. Potential victims attempt to move from areas with extreme poverty to areas with less extreme poverty. In these instances, it is the desire of potential victims to migrate to escape poverty that is exploited by traffickers. Control and threatening measures tend to increase once migration occurs for the victims.

Those populations experiencing extreme poverty are especially vulnerable due to their circumstances and familial desperation. These high risk populations become trapped in the desire obtain a better life for themselves and their families. The poor are subsequently preyed upon by manipulative traffickers offering false promises of employment and education opportunities, remuneration in addition to a better life condition. In reality, the trafficker does not follow through on any of the promises. The victims are then forced to do other work—like prostitution or hard labor—receiving little or no pay, resulting in them still living essentially in extreme poverty.

Those suffering from poverty are purposely targeted by traffickers as a means of exploitation. Due to poverty, some parents sell their children. In some instances, victims are told to work to pay off debts and told repercussions include violence, police involvement or immigration. Some victims are sold to many different traffickers. There are two types of labor the victims who are trafficked are subjected to, forced labor or prostitution. Over 32 billion dollars is made annually from human trafficking.

Less than 40 billion dollars can end global poverty. Supporting the Food and Peace Reform Act in order to allow USAID funds to provide support for non-emergency assistance for foreign countries will impact the extreme poverty that leads victims into human trafficking. Combating hunger and food crises can provide a means to assist those facing extreme hunger while not disrupting their agricultural products or local economy. The Act does not interfere with the domestic production in the countries and is proactive means to help to end extreme poverty and hunger to prevent vulnerability to trafficking.

Erika Wright

Sources: Southern Poverty Law Center, The Freedom Project, OSCE
Photo: Flickr

MTV Exit Fights Human Trafficking - The Borgen Project
MTV, in cooperation with USAID, Australian Aid and ASEAN, has launched an awareness campaign targeted at young people called MTV Exit, which seeks to raise awareness about human trafficking, especially in the Asia Pacific region.

The program seeks to educate young people in the region and around the world about human trafficking through media campaigns such as music videos, informational videos and through other interactive tools. A significant number of these tools are also specifically targeted toward young people in the Asia-Pacific region who are disproportionately affected by human trafficking globally.

Part of the campaign includes what MTV calls an Exit Map, available on the campaign’s home page. The Exit Map is a 6-hour workshop through which anyone can educate a target group about human trafficking, the ways to prevent trafficking and methods for helping survivors.

The first part of the workshop focuses on making participants feel comfortable around each other and with the instructor so that the many difficult topics associated with human trafficking can be more easily and freely discussed. According to the workshop, it is important to make sure people feel they are in a safe environment so that misconceptions and myths about trafficking can be most easily debunked.

Another focus of the workshop is on the danger of taking risks. Trafficking takes place when traffickers take advantage of people in vulnerable situations trying to pursue their dreams. They often lure young people with promises of fantastic jobs and good wages, knowing that they are more likely to take chances in order to achieve their dreams.

The Exit Map workshop tries to educate people about how to spot traffickers. It teaches people to ask the right questions of potential employers and to use a hotline in order to identify whether an advertised job is run by a legitimate company or if it is merely a hoax used by traffickers to capture people.

MTV’s definition of human trafficking is “when someone is recruited, moved, held, or received in order to be exploited.” According to the campaign, human trafficking is a process that includes more than just exploiting the person; it involves recruiting, holding and moving the person in order to exploit them. Therefore the issue must be addressed at all levels of the process in order to most effectively combat it. Educating people about how to spot illegitimate job offers, for example, attempts to combat the recruiting phase of trafficking.

The campaign also emphasizes that traffickers can be anyone and that trafficking is a business facilitated by the demand for cheap products in other countries like the United States. As long as people keep demanding cheap products, people in other countries will continue to be trafficked into forced labor in order to make these cheap products. Therefore MTV emphasizes that consumers should be educated on where and how goods are made and whether slavery took place in any part of the supply chain, which means holding companies accountable for inspecting their supply chains and addressing slavery where it exists.

MTV also seeks to educate young people about the many different types of trafficking. When most people think of trafficking, their first thought sex trafficking, but it also includes forced labor, debt bondage, trafficking into domestic work, child adoption and trafficking of women for surrogacy, trafficking for the removal of organs and trafficking for marriage.

The last point that MTV hopes to emphasize through its Exit Map education plan is that vulnerability is not the cause of human trafficking. Circumstances such as poverty, hunger, lack of education and gender inequalities do not cause trafficking. These things make it easier for traffickers to exploit and take advantage of people, but traffickers are the cause of trafficking.

As long as there are people willing to exploit other people in vulnerable situations, trafficking will exist. Therefore, tackling the problem is two-fold. Improve people’s situations so that traffickers are no longer able to take advantage of vulnerability and educate vulnerable people about how to spot traffickers effectively cutting off trafficker’s supply of easily exploitable vulnerable human beings; this is how to combat human trafficking.

— Erin Sullivan

Sources: Mumbrella, MTV Exit 1, MTV Exit 2, MTV Exit 3, MTV Exit 4, MTV Exit 5, MTV Exit 6
Photo: Tumblr

anti-human trafficking
The issue of human trafficking has become a keynote subject over the past few decades. Terrorist organizations, like Boko Haram, frequent the news for the trafficking of children. In response, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of anti-human trafficking bills to combat the prominence of this tragedy.

A prior package of bills was also passed in May 2014 as a reaction to the Boko Haram incident. In April, the Islamic Jihadist group kidnapped 276 female students from a government-sponsored school in northeast Nigeria. As of July, the group still has over 200 of the girls, and has made a video which reveals the group’s intention is to sell them.

While human trafficking occurs on a smaller-scale as a domestic phenomenon, it most notably occurs in Africa, Asia and Central America. According to estimates, there are 27 million people living in modern-day slavery – whether it be through forced labor or sex trafficking. Children and women are most often targeted, with roughly two million children exploited by the global sex trade.

The bills passed in the House, however, will cover an array of different implementations that battle human trafficking both domestically and internationally. One part of the package, H.R. 4449, will require new standards of training for diplomatic officials – including ambassadors, embassy officers and mission chiefs. The aim of this program will be to have an increased awareness of the issue among leaders abroad.

More extensive training will also be provided to officials who are part of the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the Transportation Security Authority (TSA). This training will include the best methods to identify and prevent human trafficking in situations where it may be unbeknownst to border officials.

Another bill, H.R. 5135, will require an official report to be published by an inter-agency task force designed to combat human trafficking. The report will detail and update the best strategies to prevent children from falling victim to trafficking.

By raising awareness of the issue, Congress aims to gradually have an impact and hopes to see human trafficking statistics dwindle over coming years.

As the issue of human trafficking is not a partisan one, politicians on both sides of the spectrum hope and expect to see these anti-human trafficking bills passed through Senate quickly.

Conner Goldstein

Sources: CNN World, Human Trafficking Statistics, HS Today
Photo: Mizzouwire

Pakistani Kiln Worker
For Pakistani kiln worker, Amna Bhatti, the only escape from debt is death. Bhatti explains to the Washington Post, “We are poor, and we will always stay poor. When you enter this road, the only way out of it is death.” Many other Pakistani kiln workers face a similar reality.

According to the U.N., 21 percent of the population of Pakistan lives below the poverty line and some are left with no choice but to take out loans in exchange for labor. These loans can have very high interest rates, creating a cycle of bonded labor.

Workers labor in the hot sun to pay off their debt and, many times, their family’s debt, which can be passed down through the generations. Although this practice of paying off loans through labor has been outlawed by the Pakistani government since 1992, actual enforcement of the law is not practiced.

Most of the time, work is done for far less than minimum wage since employers regularly do not keep records and authorities have limited resources to oversee the industry. According to Kahlid Mahmoud, the director of the Labour Education Foundation located in Lahore, no more than a dozen kiln factories in Punjab, Pakistan pay the country’s minimum wage of $7.50 per 1000 bricks.

Actual pay can amount to as little as $1.25 cents a day. Workers are not excluded because of age either.

Child labor in Pakistan encompasses over 12 million children according to the International Labour Organization. Two million of these children work up to 14-hour days in the brickmaking industry. According to the Maplecroft risk analysis firm Pakistan places sixth in their list of 10 countries with the worst rankings for child labour. Many times these children work side by side with their parents.

Pakistan has also been ranked by the 2013 Global Slavery index as having “the third highest prevalence of modern-day slavery.” Female kiln workers are among the worst treated. Zakaria Nutkani of Action Aid explains, “Female workers have virtually no rights, as most of them do not even possess a national identity card, which is a basic document to prove a person’s existence in government records.” Nutkani explains further that female workers are often the lowest paid and face never-ending work because of additional responsibilities maintaining their households.

Cases of sexual abuse of women and children are common. Ghulam Fatima of the human rights advocacy group Bonded Labour Liberation Front explains that workers face extreme repercussions for refusing to work.

These repercussions can include murder or being sold to human traffickers. The punishments can even extend beyond the individual and to their families. Kiln worker Naser explains to CNN about his work conditions simply stating, “He beats me up if the work doesn’t get done.”

Options of escaping bonded labor are rare or non-existent. Bonded laborer Muhammad Mansha sold his kidney to buy his children out of their family’s debt.

Poverty allows conditions such as these to continue to thrive. It greatly limits the options and opportunities people could otherwise have access to. For these Pakistani kiln workers, this is their reality and they know it all too well.

– Christopher Kolezynski

Sources: Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, United Nations Development Programme in Pakistan, CNN World

Human trafficking is an inhumane act against fundamental human rights. It is sad but true that people are smuggled and traded like commodities and slaves. According to the report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC,) the most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation, which makes up 79 percent of human trafficking instances. The second form of trafficking is labor exploitation. The largest population involved in human trafficking is children. In some parts of Africa and Mekong region, children account for more than 50 percent of trafficking victims.

Due to the urgent situation of human trafficking problem, the U.S. House of Representatives is trying to pass the bipartisan bill called the Fraudulent Overseas Recruitment and Trafficking Elimination Act, also known as the FORTE Act.

The FORTE Act would ensure that provision of foreign assistance does not contribute to human trafficking. Instead, it would fight human trafficking by proving better transparency in the recruitment of foreign workers.

This act will make the government provide more transparency when hiring workers abroad, thus cutting down labor trafficking — the second largest exploitation. The act requires employers using foreign labor to notify the Department of Labor of recruiters’ identities annually. It requires the Secretary of Labor to maintain a list of contractors and U.S. consulates to receive complaints from the workers. It also makes requirements of foreign labor contractors who bring laborers into the U.S. to prevent trafficking, such as registration.

In short, the success of this bill means more clarity in labor contracts and more regulations over labor recruiters.

The crime of human trafficking is mostly underreported due to its underground nature. This act will bring the issue to the light, put more transparency in the labor market and effectively decrease labor trafficking. In addition to decreasing human trafficking in foreign countries, this act will also help to regulate the American domestic labor market.

Jing Xu

Sources: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, House of Representatives Foreign Affairs, Catholic Relief Services
Photo: Jamaica Observer