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Human Trafficking in Latin America
Transcript of Human Trafficking in Latin America
by Sabrina Shea and Jennifer Celebrados
Sex Work vs Forced Labor
Trafficking for sex work is the most commonly thought of instance of human trafficking.
BUT- it is not the most common kind of trafficking, both worldwide and within the specific scope of Latin America.
The most common kind is trafficking for forced labor.
Trafficking for Forced Labor
Colombia is a major source country for trafficking. Many of the victims are trafficked to the United States, Asian countries such as Japan and Hong Kong, and western European countries like Britain, Spain, and the Netherlands. Other source countries for sex trafficking are Bolivia, Guyana, and Ecuador.
Human trafficking is modern day slavery!
The common reasons for trafficking are forced labor and sex work
There are an estimated 20 million trafficked people at any time
Many of these trafficked people are women and children, especially young girls
Not Just a Latin American Problem
There are notable exploiters of trafficked labor and sex work in every sector of the world:
Brazil and the Dominican Republic in Latin America and the Caribbean
Thailand and the Philippines in South East Asia
The United States in North America
International trafficking brings trafficked people farther from their own communities, and futher from any legal protections.
Trafficking has connections to international cartels and the drug war– they make money off of smuggled drugs and smuggled people.
Individual nations should have their own methods for control of trafficking
Combat "machismo" culture
Educate boys on equal worth of females from a young age– as human beings, not objects
Examine causes of trafficking (such as demand for sex work) and try to limit them
Cultural change to value "women's work" such as cleaning and producing clothing
Work between nations to promote better welfare for all people, especially those disadvantaged as a result of being trafficked internationally
It is estimated that around 100,000 women are annually trafficked from Latin America to other countries, such as the United States and European nations like Britain, Belgium, and Spain.
Another 300,000 women are suspected to be trafficked for sex work within Brazil alone.
Legalized prostitution is thought to fuel sex trafficking.
Many countries do not have their own measures against sex trafficking, but instead use standards created by Western countries (if anything) that do little to adress the underlying cultural issues in Latin America.
The Gendered Nature of Trafficking
Women are more likely to be trafficked as a result of many different factors:
economic necessity (personal or familial)
lack of/minimal education
history of physical or sexual abuse
Gendered Violence against Women
Sexual and domestic abuse
Negative effects to physical well-being
Contraction of HIV/ AIDS
Lack of sympathy
No legal support
Brazil is the largest exporter of women in South America. It is a major destination country where there is much trafficking for prostitution inside. Many of the trafficked people go to sex industries in countries such as the United States, Germany, Spain, Japan, and Israel.
Argentina is another major destination country. Women are imported from Chile, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic. Chile is a major transit country that facilitates trafficking from Asia to South and North America.
Graham, M. (2010). Mexico's New War: Sex Trafficking. La Prensa San Diego.
Kaye, A.E. (2011). Preventing trafficking in persons. India Abroad.
Langberg, L. (2005). A Review of Recent OAS Research on Human Trafficking in the Latin
American and Caribbean Region. International Migration, Vol. 43.
Lehti, M; Aromaa, K. (2006). Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation. Crime and Justice, Vol. 34.
Mendoza, C. (2012). Conference addresses social issues, human/sex trafficking. El Chicano
Seelke, C.R. (2015). Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean. Congressional
Truman, M; Mazal, J. (2011/2012). Fighting Against Human Trafficking and the Sex Trade: An
Interview with Teresa Ulloa Ziaurriz. Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, Issue 24.
An estimated 1.8 million people were trafficked for forced labor in Latin America in 2012.
It is suspected that an even larger number of Latin American people who immigrated to the U.S. and Canada are trafficked for forced labor in these countries.
This includes around 1.5 million (mainly men) in agricultural labor, as well as uncounted women and children in factories, as domestic help, and in other situations of low income work
Though the numbers are smaller, they are not insignificant
(specific to sex trafficking)
Human trafficking exploits victims caught in unfavorable economic settings in developing countries. Victims, usually young women and girls, are further manipulated by cultural and social factors that dehumanize their status in society. The countries that are successful in large-scale long distance trafficking may have strong organized crime systems with valuable global connections as well as a set institution of female migration networks. It is important to note that victims of gendered violence are forced to endure more violence and intimidation without the social, economic, and legal means to defend themselves in countries that may not be their own. While combating human trafficking crime systems, work should be done to provide protection and support for trafficking victims. Raising awareness for trafficking and support for socioeconomic development in progressing source, transit, and destination countries can prevent further trafficking related practices.