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Since the 1990s, globalization, driven by economic interests and improved communications, technology, and transportation, has resulted in a more interconnected environment that allows human trafficking to thrive, while helping to combat it at the same time. The unequal social and economic conditions around the world perpetuate the idea that some humans are commodities that can be sold and traded in world markets. The lucrative nature of human trafficking has resulted in the growing demand for humans from countries of origin where the supply of people is both high and the transactions quick and low risk as a result of technology, advanced communication, and faster transportation. The demand for people comes from within the supply countries and from both developing and developed countries as the need for labor and the sexualization of primarily women and children continue to breed inhumane uses of humans.
- Human Trafficking
- Estimates of Human Trafficking
- The Victims and Survivors
- The Exploiters: Organized Crime, Pimps, Businesses, and Buyers
- Globalization and Human Trafficking: Connectedly Thriving
- Combating Trafficking in the Midst of Globalization
This research paper defines globalization and human trafficking and then shows how the former has perpetuated and assisted in the evolution of the trafficking of people. At the same time, globalization has supported governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and individuals in combating human trafficking.
As world economies, transportation, and communications expand, the world becomes increasingly integrated and interdependent. Commonly referred to as ‘globalization,’ this interconnectedness includes everything from the integration of governments, economies, transportation, and business to the melding of cultures, laws, and social movements. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, globalization intensified as a result of industrial, communications, technological, economic, and transportation advances (Wolf, 2001). It has played a key role in the growth of national economies and international businesses, both legitimate and illegitimate, primarily through the continuously emerging science, technologies, and communication mediums that facilitate the free flow of people, goods, services, and ideas (Shangquan, 2000; Stohl, 2008). The concept of globalization is complex, but it may be broken down into economic, cultural, and political components to better understand it.
Economic globalization refers to the connectedness of economic activity, such as cross-border trade and the spread of technologies, that creates global interdependence in markets, capital, and commodities (Shangquan, 2000). Olteanu and Radoi (2010) describe it as the internationalization of economies where liberalizing markets have created intense competition for control and location of the labor markets. Economic globalization can result in people, who have been displaced by agricultural modernization, needing to seek other lines of work in their own and other countries, and it can create corruption and violence, while destroying social norms, through rapid economic changes (Bales, 2004). Cultural globalization refers to the diffusion of ideas, values, and ways of life, as well as the creation of a global conscience, through technology, communication mediums, and transportation (Moghadam, 2005). It implies that the almost instantaneous exchange of ideas creates more connectivity, interaction, and interdependence among people of different cultures and can refer to the heavy influence of Western cultures on other societies. Finally, political globalization focuses on multilateralism and the increased influence of public policy across borders, affecting governing doctrines that deal with human rights, energy, the environment, and political governmental models, such as democracy (Moghadam, 2005; Zaleski, 2006). The connectivity that exists as a result of the tools of globalization (i.e., science, technology, and communication mediums) breaks through the time and space limitations that, before globalization, created barriers to the exchange of capital and commodities. Economic markets, businesses, intra- and intercontinental communications, and transportation are now more efficient and more accessible to people and regions who previously lacked such access.
Globalization’s effects are vast and are both positive and negative, especially considering that different social groups are affected in diverse manners (Lee, 2011). From the positive perspective, global communication allows people to connect to one another more efficiently, making business, politics, and social exchanges more immediate and profitable by saving both time and money. The power to connect people and its potential to spread wealth are also seen as a means of providing opportunities to individuals who, because of location, language barriers, and/or economic situations, have little to no access to education and employment (Mohr, 2012). In addition, due to globalization more countries, individuals, and businesses have access to financial lending, allowing for improved social and civil infrastructures, a higher standard of living and access to markets that were not open before. Finally, people are exposed to other cultures and ideas, and they are more aware of world social problems and solutions.
Other perspectives argue that globalization increases social inequalities, specifically the gap in income distribution, and it allows for the continued exploitation of people, both in and out of the labor market, who are not as connected or protected as others (International Labour Organization, 2008; Mohr, 2012; World Commission on Social Dimension of Globalization, 2004). The interests of high-income countries drive the interests of the rest of the world, leaving low-income countries to bear the brunt of the negative economic, labor, environmental, and social consequences of globalization. The latter include the perpetuation of poverty, social inequalities, the oppression of women and other minorities, and the lack of afforded protections to these groups. Marginalized people – those who are impoverished, discriminated against, homeless, incarcerated, and otherwise socially and economically excluded – are particularly negatively affected and victimized by globalization (Hepburn and Simon, 2013; Polakoff, 2007).
Although globalization has improved many aspects of contemporary life around the world, it has also had a farreaching and negative effect on one of the oldest and most egregious human rights offenses: human trafficking. The negative effects of globalization are in many ways embodied by the sexual exploitation of youth and adults. Interconnectedness has made it easy for sexual exploiters to connect to and sell to buyers of infants, children, youth, and adults in a sex industry that highlights the intersectionality of race, gender, and economics. The victims and survivors of these crimes – especially women and children – often do not have the means to fight back due to poverty and the lack of other protections, including a lack of power, opportunity, and a growing inequality gap (Farr, 2005; United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2012).
Human trafficking has been defined by numerous governmental entities in an attempt to clarify what it looks like, who is involved and how it is happening. Although there are variations of the definition and debate about what should and should not be included (Lee, 2011), a widely accepted definition found in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons especially Women and Children (hereafter the Trafficking Protocol) (2000) defines human trafficking as the
recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the 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.(p. 42)
There is a clear distinction between smuggling, which is a crime against state borders, and human trafficking, which is a crime against a person. The definitions of human trafficking that are widely used have made efforts to emphasize that the important aspect of trafficking is the crime against the person (Nagle, 2008).
Human beings have been seen as commodities since before globalization emerged, and the tools of globalization have made it easier for human trafficking to flourish in markets across the world. The increased ability to exchange money, communicate and sell through the Internet, and send commodities and people across borders faster than ever has made the trafficking of humans the third most widespread business for organized crime in the world, right behind drugs and arms dealing (Nagle, 2008). Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, more international attention has been given to human trafficking. Yet it is important to remember that attempts to combat it through antislavery movements and laws have been continuous, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to more recent resolutions and legislation encompassing the rights of women and children and others. (see the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery; the 1948 American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man; the 1957 Abolition of Forced Labour Convention; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; United Nations General Assembly Resolutions on Traffic in Women and Girls; the 1996 Final Report of the World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children; the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing; and the 1991 Moscow Document of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).
As a result of the transnational component of human trafficking, increased awareness of the issue and the increasing interconnectedness of countries, the fight against human trafficking has been progressively seen as a global responsibility and a gross violation of human rights, which is a contrast to what it was seen as in the 1980s as a ‘women’s issue’ that was given little attention and funding (Lee, 2011). As such, international entities have dedicated conventions and protocols to the issue of trafficking. In 1998, at the UN Commission for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the United States presented a resolution on the trafficking of women and children that called for the creation of protocols under the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Hyland, 2001). As a result, the United States and Argentina drafted the Trafficking Protocol in 1999; it became the first and main comprehensive international instrument to combat human trafficking. The 2000 final version of the Trafficking Protocol, first put into effect in 2003, was the first enforceable instrument to provide a universal definition of human trafficking, making it easier for countries to work internationally, and was the first to provide tough laws and protections for survivors of trafficking.
As defined by the International Labour Organization (2012), the U.S. State Department (2012), and the United Nations General Assembly (2000), human trafficking takes on many forms in both labor and sex trafficking. For instance, labor trafficking encompasses forcing, deceiving, coercing, manipulating, and/or threatening individuals into working on fishing boats, in manufacturing factories, private homes, agriculture, construction, massage parlors, and/or other businesses such as nail salons, restaurants, call centers, and hotels. Individuals may cross no borders, or travel through national or continental boundaries under the guise of working in legitimate businesses but then find themselves trapped. Traffickers hold victims and survivors without justification, under threat of harm to themselves or their families, or under the guise that the survivor owes the trafficker money for transportation, housing, and any food used during the working period. Traffickers may also operate as legitimate businesses that take control of indigenous land or local farmers’ lands and force the people to work on the land for little to no pay in order to buy back the land, knowing full well that the interest included in the price of the land accumulates faster than workers can accumulate pay.
Another means of labor trafficking, and one of the most prolific in the world, occurs through debt bondage, which is when an individual is born into the debt of a family, acquires a loan that is unpayable, or is deceived into traveling for work and then owes the money for the travel (Siddharth, 2009; United Nations, 1956). As time passes, the victims and survivors may be unable to pay back the money, and debt accumulates everyday that passes. Debt bondage has existed throughout history and continues to exist today primarily in developing countries, including South Asian countries, where caste systems enslave families generation after generation, and in South America and Africa, where banking systems, legitimate loan and credit sources are often scarce. However, debt bondage can exist in developed countries in the form of travel debt, drug debt, and domestic servitude. For example, sexual exploitation can occur when an individual is forced to sell her or his body for sex to pay for drugs she or he has used. Debt bondage is one of the most common forms of forced labor and has been outlawed internationally, but, like many other forms of trafficking, it persists as a result of inadequate social, political, and economic safety nets available to victims and survivors.
Forcing children and handicapped people to beg on streets is also a common form of labor trafficking (Cherneva, 2011). In some instances, children who might be healthy are purposely maimed to seem more sympathetic; for example, some homeless or poor children in South Asia are purposefully blinded for this reason. Similar to begging, a traveling ‘sales crew’ is a relatively new human trafficking method, being tracked in some countries, including in the United States. In these situations, teenagers and young adults are manipulated into working for little to no money by traffickers who transport them to varying locations to have them sell magazines, candy, or other trinkets under the guise of working for a nonprofit or a scholarship. Victims work long hours and are charged for any water or food they use, leaving them close to nothing in pay. There are few repercussions for the traffickers and few resources for the survivors as a result of social inequalities and insufficient laws or understanding surrounding of the issues.
Sexual exploitation is another type of human trafficking that is primarily, but not exclusively, been seen as affecting women and children (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2006, 2009, 2012; International Labour Organization, 2012). According to the ILO, sexual exploitation is a form of labor trafficking that can include infants, children, teenagers, and adults being sold into the pornography industry, brothels, hotels, massage parlors, strip clubs, the street, and homes around the world. Sexual exploitation occurs differently across the world, but the lack of opportunities for families and individuals, as well as gender and social inequalities, feeds the need to find some form of livelihood. In societies where women and girls are seen as economic weights on their families, girls and teens are sometimes sold to brothels as a means of disposing of them or to make them support their families. In the United States, domestic trafficking is aided by the hypersexualization of girls, the sexual abuse of girls, a lack of opportunity to escape abuse and poverty, and a system that is not yet ready to assist these survivors. Social factors, such as community rejections of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individuals, also make it easier to exploit individuals in the sex industry. Combined with poverty, these factors make individuals in all countries susceptible to the cons and traps of traffickers.
Adoptions, forced marriages, military service, and organ trafficking are other forms of human trafficking that are not necessarily included in some definitions of trafficking, including the International Labour Organization’s (2012) definition. Adoptions can turn into human trafficking when children are abducted from their families, families are deceived or coerced into giving up their children for adoption, or families sell the children to adoption agencies in order to survive. As a result of war, civil conflicts, natural disasters (e.g., Haiti’s 2010 earthquake), and other events, the practice of selling children, especially via international adoptions, is not easily measurable or preventable.
Forced marriages of women and girls are another form of human trafficking that defines a situation where one of the spouses, usually a woman or girl, does not have the ability to refuse marriage (United Nations, 1956). Women and girls as young as 8 years of age can be forced to marry men in exchange for dowries or because the girls and women are seen as less valuable than sons. This practice is common in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa (Bokhari, 2008). Mail-order brides, common in areas of Russia, Eastern Europe, and South Asian countries, are also considered forced marriage because the women are deceived or forced into making themselves available to the highest bidder as a result of organized crime and/or poverty.
Forced military service of boys, men, women, and girls is another type of trafficking that may occur out of threat, force, coercion, deception, and manipulation. It has been occurring since World War II, but the social disruption caused by globalization, prolonged armed conflict, and the spread of diseases has been seen as causes for the increase in the use of child soldiers (Tiefenbrun, 2007). Children as young as 8 years of age have been identified as child soldiers, and the girls and boys who are forced into military services also often serve as sex slaves for the troops (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2007). Armed conflict, illness, and poverty may leave orphaned children who are then forced to serve in military organizations supported by governments, paramilitary organizations, or rebel groups.
Finally, organ trafficking must be included in this sometimes-excluded group of trafficked individuals. The trafficking of organs may occur with or without the consent of the victim, and, when one considers that consent may mean a poor individual from a developing country that sees no way of surviving than through the sale of her or his organs, consent is nothing more than exploitation by those involved in the globalization of organ transplants (Scheper- Hughes, 2000; Budiani-Saberi and Delmonico, 2008). Deception in organ trafficking could occur when a person believes she or he will be paid for the organ and is not paid or is paid less than the expected price, or when the person does not realize that she or he agreed to give up an organ. Individuals from poor developing countries, migrant workers, homeless individuals, and illiterate individuals are some of the target victims of this type of trafficking (Budiani-Saberi and Delmonico, 2008). Everyone from the recruiter of the victim to the medical professionals who remove the organs to the individuals who buy for the organ banks is involved in the illegal trafficking of organs; however, due to a lack of systemic data and laws, the scope of the problem is not well known or understood.
Because people are seen as durable commodities that can be sold, exchanged, and/or traded in world markets for very high prices, human trafficking is extremely lucrative. For example, a drug or weapon sale provides a one-time profit. However, humans can be used and sold as many times as the individuals can withstand, with continuous gains going to the traffickers. According to the ILO, some estimates of human trafficking profits exceed US$31 billion a year (2005).
Estimates of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking takes on different forms around the world and estimates vary as to how many people are affected, what countries they originate in, and to what countries they go. In fact, there is much criticism about the methodologies used to gather estimates and the poor data propelling the movement to end trafficking (Sanghera, 2005; Lee, 2011). Estimates on the condition of human trafficking vary as a result of its different definitions that come from varying interests and stakeholders, different methodologies for gathering and analyzing data, a lack of systematic data gathering, varying access to institutional, country, and organizational data, and the use of different measures. In addition, some laws around the world may only apply to and define certain types of trafficking, types of victims and survivors (e.g., women and children but not men), and enforcement tools, making it difficult to obtain any data or any reliable data (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2006, 2009). Finally, as a result of a lack of protection for the victims and survivors of trafficking, as well as internal conflicts and discrimination, survivors of trafficking and their allies may not be able to report the trafficking out of fear for themselves and their families. In countries where governments do not have a history of victim services and comprehensive laws, the barriers to reporting are very real and can result in low levels of reporting. However, it is still important to outline what different entities around the world estimate when it comes to the trafficking of humans.
In 2006, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime provided its first Trafficking in Persons Global Report detailing trends of human trafficking in 127 countries of origin to 137 destination countries from 1996 to 2006 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2006). The report outlined three basic distinctions among countries that are not mutually exclusive when it comes to trafficking in humans: countries of origin (from where the victims and survivors come), transit countries (countries through which transportation of victims and survivors is common), and destination countries. According to the findings, Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Lithuania, Nigeria, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Thailand, and Ukraine have the highest incidences of human trafficking when it comes to origins of victims and survivors. Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Thailand are the most used transit countries, and victims and survivors of trafficking are most likely headed to Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States of America.
The ILO’s most recent publication on human trafficking (2012) is based on a study conducted from 2002 to 2011 on the estimate of people forced into labor in the world. It estimated, conservatively, that there were about 20.9 million people around the world who were victims and survivors of forced labor, including sexual exploitation. It is a conservative estimate because human trafficking is a hidden crime not easily measurable and because it does not include trafficking for the removal of organs or numbers on forced marriage or adoption unless the practices lead to forced labor situations. The report further divides the 20.9 million into what sectors exploit them: 18.7 million by the private sector, encompassing 4.5 million in the sex industry and 14.2 million in agriculture, construction, domestic work, and manufacturing. Governments, through state-imposed forms of forced labor, exploit the remaining 2.2 million. This study is an example of how definitions of exploitation include and exclude different types of human trafficking; it is meant to include labor practices only, ignoring some important forms of human trafficking while including what other researchers may not consider forced labor by other definitions (i.e., state-imposed labor through prisons).
In contrast, the Walking Free Foundation conducted its own research on the prevalence of what they term modern day slavery that includes slavery, slavery-like practices (e.g., forced marriage, debt bondage, children forced into armed conflict), human trafficking, and forced labor (2013). The study relies on three definitions of modern day slavery provided by the 1956 Slavery Convention, the 1930 Forced Labour Convention, and the 2000 United Nations Trafficking Protocol. According to the Global Slavery Index report of 2013, there are an estimated 29.8 million people exploited through modern day slavery. The index provides estimates for 162 countries and showed that the highest prevalence of slavery (in order) was in Mauritania, Haiti, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Moldova, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, The Gambia, and Gabon. When considering numbers in absolute terms, however, the countries with the highest number of slaves (in order) are India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. The latter group of countries, those with the highest number of slaves, accounts for up to 76% of the total estimated number of 29.8 million people enslaved worldwide.
These two reports are examples of often cited statistics on the current status of human trafficking, and, as is evident, they show how widely different the perspectives on who is a victim and survivor of human trafficking and what types of trafficking are most prevalent and where.
The Victims and Survivors
The victims and survivors of human trafficking across the world come from varying backgrounds and are sought for different types of exploitation. As previously mentioned, several factors make trafficking statistics and survivor identification difficult. What reports have found across the board is that human trafficking appears to be intraregional, meaning that the traffickers are usually trafficking people of their same country or regional area (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2006, 2009; International Labour Organization, 2012).
When it comes to transnational human trafficking, the data on the type of exploitation and its estimate vary (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009; International Labour Organization, 2012). As a result of most of the laws around the world focusing on child victims and victims and survivors of sexual exploitation, the majority of victims and survivors of trafficking who were identified in 2006 in 61 countries were 66% women and 13% girls, with men and boys only being identified in 12 and 9% of the cases, respectively (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009). There were only slight changes in the 2012 United Nations report that indicated that 59, 17, 14, and 10% of trafficked survivors were women, girls, men, and boys, respectively. When the type of exploitation was identified, statistics showed that 79% of the victims and survivors were sexually exploited, a contrast to the 2012 ILO statistic showing that about 24% of its cases concerned sexual exploitation. However, the exploitation of men and boys may not be as visible or measurable as a result of their lack of inclusion in laws. The United Nations, ILO, Amnesty International, and others have recorded quantitative and qualitative data on the trafficking of men and boys in the shipping, fishing, agriculture, and manufacturing businesses, as well as soldiers in wars, domestic servitude, and sex industries.
The effects of labor and sex trafficking on individuals trafficked tend to be devastatingly negative (Zimmerman et al., 2011; U.S. Department of State, 2012). The physical, psychological, verbal, and sexual violence and torture experienced by trafficked individuals cause irreparable, long-lasting physical and psychological damage to individuals (Hossain et al., 2010). Trauma, sexually transmitted infections, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and substance abuse, unwanted pregnancies, malnutrition, and social ostracism may all occur to one individual. For children, there is the added component of stunted physical, educational, and psychological growth, creating – if they survive – adults who have a hard time thriving in a healthy society. The victims, the survivors who die in the process of trafficking, suffer the ultimate effect of trafficking. While the international community has a hard time estimating the number of individuals being trafficked, it has a harder, even impossible, time estimating the number of individuals who die while being trafficked.
The Exploiters: Organized Crime, Pimps, Businesses, and Buyers
Researchers gathering data from criminal justice organizations around the world have shown that the international trafficker networks in the countries of origin are those controlling and driving the trafficking (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009). Traffickers in the countries of origin are best able to gain the trust of the victims and manipulate the local crime networks, which sometimes include local law enforcement and politicians, to keep victims under control. However, in some parts of the world, like Eastern Europe, there are organized crime entities that consist of national and transnational groups that make the trafficking possible (Surtees, 2008).
Research on the continued existence of trafficking shows that traffickers must depend on a wide network of legal and illegal socioecological participants, including politicians, government workers, law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, and communities that survive on the trafficking and exploitation of humans (Surtees, 2008). For example, in a study of 91 Chicago pimps done by Raphael and Myers- Powell (2010), pimps mention that the only way that they can operate is through the bribing of police officers, cab drivers, hotel managers, and some politicians. As a result of increased globalization, these networks have been made stronger and faster than before the existence of our current communications and transportation tools.
For traffickers, keeping victims and survivors of trafficking under control is also a vital part of the process (Surtees, 2008). Mind games, physical harm, threats on family, threats of death, isolation, and debt are tools that traffickers use to keep survivors trapped (Bruce and Failla, 2004; Surtees, 2008). Trauma bond, or Stockholm syndrome, may also play a part in a survivor staying in the trafficking situation (National Colloquium, 2012). For example, girls who run away from home and are picked up and used by traffickers for sex exploitation may see the trafficker as a savior who has sheltered, fed, and provided them clothing and, most of all, provided them the love and attention that their family and community failed to provide. In these situations, the survivor is psychologically chained to the trafficker.
Globalization and Human Trafficking: Connectedly Thriving
The trafficking of persons is facilitated by social and economic conditions around the world that treat humans as lucrative and durable commodities that can be traded in markets. Globalization has enhanced the need for a cheap labor market for different sectors of society and, as governments, industries and people compete for footing in newly emerging industries and markets, groups of people find themselves exploited in a process that appears to leave human rights behind (Nagle, 2008). Poverty, underdevelopment, and a lack of opportunity or movement in social classes are but a few factors that add to the ability of traffickers to coerce, force, manipulate, and/or threaten people into trafficking (International Labour Organization, 2008; Mohr, 2012; United Nations General Assembly, 2000; World Commission on Social Dimension of Globalization, 2004). In fact, the displacement caused by wars, natural disasters, technological advances that replace humans, and the transient economies created by rapidly changing economies, force people who have no opportunities to take risks that result in labor or sex exploitation. In addition, trafficking thrives in countries that devalue and discriminate against women and children, providing few legal and social protections for their exploitation in both the labor and sexual commercial realms (United Nations General Assembly, 2000; Walk Free Foundation, 2013). When racial discrimination is recognized as an important variable, also affecting who is trafficked, the effect of globalization on trafficking is made much clearer.
The negative consequences that arise from the perpetuation of human trafficking through globalization includes the faster and more extensive spread of sexually transmitted diseases and infections, the tearing apart of families and communities through better and faster transportation, the breakdown of small, local economies, the further dehumanization and sexualization of women and girls and continued intergenerational violence and abuse experienced at a faster pace by those who are survivors of trafficking. These are a few of the negative results of human trafficking in general, but the increase and growth of globalization has made these results come in a faster and more interconnected manner. The labor force that emerges from inequalities around the world provides an almost free supply for the high demand of all kinds of labor, from sex work to agricultural work. The same tools that have been used to open markets and economies and spread ideas are used to exploit and manipulate individuals and communities who may not have access to these tools and are often oppressed within their regions.
Combating Trafficking in the Midst of Globalization
Although globalization has made it possible to interconnect countries, laws, economics, and societies, it has also facilitated trafficking itself (United Nations General Assembly, 2000). The efforts to decrease and eliminate the trafficking of humans, up to this point, have been fragmented by noncollaboration among countries and regions and diminished by faster and tech-savvy traffickers who do not have to stay within the boundaries of jurisdiction and laws to run their businesses (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2006). In addition, the trafficking efforts that have taken place thus far are driven by moral laws and agendas that have, at times, turned the tables on the victims and survivors trafficking, viewing them and their ‘choices’ as the problem instead of centering on the social problems that forced them into sex work, illegal migration, and exploitation (Lee, 2011; Weitzer, 2007).
According to the United Nations Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (2009), this millennium has seen an increase in the number of countries that have taken a stance against trafficking by implementing the Trafficking Protocol; 63% of the 155 countries on which it reported had, by 2008, passed laws against human trafficking that covered the major forms of trafficking defined in the protocol, while 16% had passed some laws that covered at least part of the definition components. With more than half of the 155 countries having established special trafficking police units and national action plans, the strategy for combating trafficking is evolving, especially when compared to a 2003 statistic, which tallied only 35% of countries as having specific laws on the trafficking of persons. Not all of the countries that have tough, comprehensive laws and successful prosecutions of traffickers are, however, high-income countries (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009). In other words, national will, not wealth per se, is a driving force for combating trafficking.
In recent years, the fight against human trafficking has shifted into a crime control model that centers on the geopolitical, economic, security, and moral concerns of some of the countries controlling globalization. According to Lee (2011), the crime control antitrafficking movement has centered on five aspects: antiprostitution, securitization, criminalization, militarization, and privatization, all of which are directly connected to those who hold power in the current world of globalization. Antiprostitution and securitization have both directly and indirectly put the weight of trafficking on the victims and survivors; they are blamed for sexual exploitation and immigration issues that, to some groups, are at the root of trafficking. Criminalization takes into account the transnational crossing that globalization has broadened; however, criminalization, although referring to increased attention to organized crime, has also increased the immigration tensions from developing countries to developed countries (i.e., Latin Americans immigration to the United States). The latter three aspects of crime control, as defined by Lee (2011), continue to redefine victims and survivors of trafficking as ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ and true victims vs criminals (Bosworth, 2007).
Globalization has also made the militarization and privatization of crime control in human trafficking more efficient. In an attempt to control the aspects of crime that are deemed to be affecting trafficking, countries, like the United States and the United Kingdom, have begun to militarize their borders so as to stop the intrusion of borders (Lee, 2011). Technology that includes advanced surveillance and communication methods has expanded countries’ abilities to fight what they see as the underlying problems in human trafficking. However, since it can be difficult for governments themselves to provide the militarization and technological advances needed for combating trafficking, a new industry for private enforcement has emerged in the global markets (Bosworth, 2007). These management, technological, and policing organizations work transnationally in order to ensure that the criminalization, securitization, militarization are all taking place according to the definition of human trafficking accepted by the underlying power (Lee, 2011).
Although the methods of combating human trafficking have increasingly put the onus of the crime on the survivors and victims, there have also been increases in assistance to these victims and survivors. Victim services for survivors of human trafficking have been more widely available since the beginning of the twenty-first century, as the recognition of trafficking as a global, regional, and national problem has increased. Because there is no uniform source of victim services for survivors, assistance for them has been set up primarily independently at the international, national, and local levels (Mendez, 2010). International organizations and conventions have established funds that are being used globally to assist survivors of trafficking, covering basic shelter, food, and clothing needs as well as victim compensation, relocation, legal assistance, and immigration documentation. Mendez (2010) mentions that the improved technology, communications, and transportation currently in the hands of the traffickers makes it imperative to provide victim services that are transnational and interconnected so as to provide the best possible services to survivors in this era of increased globalization.
While globalization, through the use of advanced technology, communications mediums, and transportation, has allowed traffickers to more effectively exploit people around the world, it has also made combating trafficking easier for governments and NGOs. The same tools that have abetted traffickers are now being used by governments and NGOs; however, in order to increase the effectiveness of these tools, governments and NGOs must use one more tactic that has made human trafficking more successful: international collaboration (Surtees, 2008). The formal, successful human trafficker organizations that control large segments of international trafficking have long skirted the lines of jurisdictions in order to better serve their bottom lines (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2006). Combining globalization tools and transnational collaboration will make it possible for governments and NGOs to prevent trafficking, protect survivors, and prosecute traffickers.
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