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Global Pattern: Human Trafficking

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Melissa Liao

on 4 June 2015

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Transcript of Global Pattern: Human Trafficking

Global Pattern: Human Trafficking
Melissa Liao
“Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others.” Polaris Project 2015

Human Trafficking exists as a global problem and is still occurring in different parts of the world. The 2011-2012 graph below shows on average sexual exploitation is the most common form, for example in the Europe and Central Asia 66% of trafficking victims are involved in sexual exploitation having a significantly higher percentage than forced labour and organ trafficking.
Around 161 countries are reported either being a source, transit or destination of human trafficking. The overall pattern of human trafficking is random as it is dispersed throughout the four hemispheres although there are some other patterns identified within these regions.

The reporting of human trafficking cases are higher in the northern hemisphere compared to the southern hemisphere. There is a linear pattern present above the equator in the northern hemisphere, for example we can see Europe and Central Asia are shaded mostly red, indicating countries such as Russia and China to have a high number of human trafficking cases. Statistics show 50% of modern slaves are in Asia while China and Russia are in the top 10 countries which account for 76% of the 29.8 million victims of human trafficking.
There is also a clustered pattern in Africa showing a medium amount of cases of human trafficking reported. The distribution of human trafficking in African countries is spread across the continent ranging from very low to high cases. This is due to the number of countries that have adopted certain legislations prohibiting any forms of human trafficking, but also the type of trafficking outlined in the legislation. For example Mozambique in South Africa being the first country in its region to sign an anti-trafficking legislation. This can be compared to countries such as Chad and Niger in West and Central Africa where the reporting of the cases are high as there is no specific offence addressing any forms of trafficking.
Human trafficking is a growing industry, bringing in US$32 billion annually worldwide. Human traffickers, usually criminal organisations, benefit from the exploitation of its victims as the demand for cheap labour continues to increase, therefore profits continue to increase. Victims are usually looking for jobs and unemployed therefore are easily exploited and tricked into forced labour. One of the incentives that keeps the industry running is the amount of profit gained by buyers and sellers. According to statistics in 2006 from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) every year traffickers can make between US$4,000 and US$50,000 per person trafficked depending on the place of origin and location of victim.
The geographic concept of processes can be applied with an example of the process of demand by slave exploiters of maximising profits and consumers demanding a lower price of a good. Labour costs are always the highest cost component in the operating expenses of a business and exploiters are able to reduce that cost as slaves are of virtually a nil cost. In this way exploiters are able to maximise profits and at the same time lower their costs of their goods. Consumers are attracted to lower prices, therefore the amount of goods purchased from the producer will increase. This is one of the factors that causes human trafficking to continue to happen as in the global market producers will always be competing for lower prices and wanting to retain profitability, therefore exploiting labour.
Victims of human trafficking can originate from any city or region but some areas are particularly vulnerable such as third world countries which include China and regions such as Southeast Asia. As seen from the map of reported trafficking cases around the world we can see a pattern of human trafficking occurring in the Asia countries ranging from medium to high level of reported cases. According to the 2014 Global Slavery Index (GSI) there are nearly 26 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, and of that almost two-thirds are from Asia. The 2014 GSI also states India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand to be the Asian countries that are in the top 10 countries with the highest number of victims in the world. To this year India is first on the list with 14 million victims of trafficking, China at second with 3.2 million and Pakistan is third with 2.1 million trafficking victims.
Some key target groups in third world countries include people from impoverished and low income households, indigenous people, hill tribes and illegal migrants. Potential victims are taken advantage of their vulnerabilities, for example if they’re uneducated, neglected, unemployed, immigrants or refugees etc. In these regions there would be certain groups of people at risk, for example in Southeast Asia, daughters of poor rural families are at risk, in the U.S foster kids and illegal immigrants are targeted. In parts of Africa young boys, particularly orphans are taken by traffickers to train as soldiers to fight in violent conflicts.
Women and girls who are economically disadvantaged are more likely to be targeted by sex traffickers to be transported to other countries that can support the commercial sex industry. The graph above in 2011 shows the number of victims trafficked by age and gender. 49% of trafficked victims are women, while following are girls at 21%. By gender, females are targeted more than males by traffickers. Human trafficking can be the result of women’s unequal economic status. Women make up almost 70% of the world’s poor and 65% of the world’s illiterate. Women face discrimination that limits their educational and employment opportunities, and also experience sexual harassment in workplaces. This causes many women to be forced to work abroad and makes them more vulnerable to exploitation. In the commercial sex industry there is always the male demand to purchase commercial sex which drives the industry and traffickers respond by continuing to exploit more females.
The supply of human trafficking is seen to be increasing which corresponds to the increase in the number of people living in poverty. In the 2009 global employment report by the International labour standards (ILO) the economic crisis in 2008 led to revenue losses in countries such as Mongolia because of falling copper prices and high inflation which reduced real incomes, reducing investment and resulted in the loss of employment. This caused more people to live in poverty therefore wanting to seek work away from home, which makes them vulnerable to human trafficking and increasing the risk of trafficking.
Contributing factors and processes
Socially from a victim’s point of view, human trafficking causes life to be potentially worse than death. Human trafficking negatively affects victims physical and psychological health which may cause them to be excluded from society due to their experiences. Any form of human trafficking would’ve restricted victims to absolutely no freedom, for example in a victim of sex trafficking would be forced to live in the conditions of residential brothels that are constantly supervised 24/7.
Social and Economic Significance
Following the geography concept of perception, we understand Gabriella’s story who was saved by the Polaris Project, an organisation that assists victims of human trafficking from a brothel in Columbia. She was tricked by her childhood friend and held in debt bondage, causing her to be forced into prostitution. She said she lived as the property of her traffickers, in which she was transferred to unknown brothels every week and couldn’t seek help. Being watched all the time and not knowing where you were everyday would’ve terrifying for Gabriella as she would’ve been traumatised from experiencing the horrors of abuse, violence and torture and felt the urge to escape. Drug involvement would’ve occurred to induce victims to cooperate, which would cause addiction and ending their life sooner. Victims involved in sex trafficking are expected to experience pregnancies. They can be traumatised by the fact traffickers force abortions to happen, using non certified practitioners and unclean tools potentially leading to a spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
Victims are subjected to long-term impacts from their experiences. This includes trauma, as mentioned above, which includes post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression in which studies show that trauma worsens during trafficking and may continue beyond the end of any exploitation. Following from abuse and torture, victims can sustain injuries and disabilities which may stunt further development and cause social difficulties. Due to the horrific experiences, victims may appear to be uncooperative and aggressive about what has happened to them therefore may be rejected from family and/or community.
Human trafficking also negatively affects the world’s economy, as there is a loss of human capital. This especially affects young children and teenagers as human trafficking interrupts the educational process and development through years of abuse, therefore the work force in the economy is less knowledgeable and unable to perform at full capacity. The abused children turn into traumatised adults who may be unable to work and will eventually depend on the government’s welfare benefit system. This reduces the amount of funds the government can spend on supporting other social welfare programs.
Due to nature of human trafficking, criminal organisations generate a stable flow of income. Trafficking occurs within the black market, in which criminal organisations operate at an unseen level and do not record the amount of income earned. This results in loss of human capital and decreased tax revenue for the government. Majority of countries with human trafficking occurring experience increased and deeper poverty and a change in the labour market and the forms of labour. In 2003, the children’s institute of University of Cape Town stated 75% of children in South Africa are in poverty. Criminal organisations in South Africa use their profit to traffick more victims every year overseas, including arms dealing and drug trafficking. This results in the amount of human trafficking, unemployment, poverty and inequality to continue to increase.
Human trafficking is a global issue which is evident through patterns across the world. It is seen to be happening heavily in certain parts of the world compared to others, in which this is caused by different factors and processes. There are both social and economic impacts that result from human trafficking that also occurs worldwide.
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