Human trafficking represents a high infringement upon fundamental human rights. Despite it affecting many parts of society, a globally agreed definition has yet to be adopted. The United Nations (UN) has divided human trafficking into three categories: sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and organ harvesting; all of which rid the victims of their humanity. As a result, the UN has defined human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receiving of individuals through force, coercion, or alternative techniques to exploit them.
Human trafficking often begins in countries of origin, such as Southeast Asia, eastern Europe, and some regions of Africa. Recruiters utilize diverse methods, including employment agencies, and media platforms, to target potential victims among tourists. In other instances, victims of human trafficking choose to leave their native country voluntarily, however, most victims remain unaware that they are being targeted. Upon being abducted, traffickers confiscate the victims' documents, regardless of their authenticity, and force them to engage in inhumane activities to repay their migratory debt.
Human trafficking can be traced back to historical situations such as religious persecution, political strife, poverty, conflict, and slavery. Sex slavery, which accounts for 58% of all occurrences of trafficking ("Human Trafficking”), is one of the most prominent forms of human trafficking. It includes compelled prostitution, pornography, and child sex rings, among other forms of servitude. In certain countries, including India, Nepal, and Ghana, religious-based slavery is used, it involves young girls serving as sexual slaves to repay their family’s debts and sins.
Forced labor has existed for numerous decades. However, modern cases of involuntary slavery might occasionally go unnoticed by the public. Agriculture, sweatshops, and employment in the restaurant or hotel industry are all examples of businesses involving possible forced labor. Domestic slavery is the involuntary participation of children in prolonged periods of domestic labor as well as other illegal activities such as drug trafficking ("Human Trafficking”).
A more recent manifestation of human trafficking is the illegal extraction of organs for transplantation. There have been reported cases of non-consensual organ extraction from jailed prisoners in China, followed by trafficking to recipients in other countries for transplantation.
Legal repercussions emerged in the 1990s due to growing public awareness. These restrictions eventually led to the passing of the "Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)" ("Human Trafficking”). The primary goal of the TVPA is to provide protection and assistance to persons who have been victims of human trafficking, thereby generating a collective international response. This organization has adopted a comprehensive three-pronged approach that includes prosecution, protection, and prevention. Prosecution refers to the process of investigating those involved in human trafficking, protecting victims' rights through assistance and compensation, and establishing global awareness campaigns to prevent such crimes.
In 2013, the US government launched a joint effort with external stakeholders to improve the effectiveness of countermeasures against human trafficking ("Combating Trafficking"). The Council of Europe has put in place measures to protect victims' rights. These measures cover victims’ right to privacy and protection, their right to temporary residency, and their right to seek compensation from the perpetrator for both material and non-material harm ("Victims of Human" [Page 2]). So far, a variety of countries (such as Cambodia, Sweden, France, etc.) have implemented said measures.
"Combating Trafficking in Human Beings." Organization for security and Co-operation in Europe, www.osce.org/combating-human-trafficking.
"Human Trafficking." Encyclopedia Britannica, 27 Sept. 2023, www.britannica.com/topic/human-trafficking.
"Victims of Human Trafficking: Right to Legal Aid and Compensation." Victims of Human Trafficking: Right to Legal Aid and Compensation, pp. 1-4, rm.coe.int/victims-of-human-trafficking-right-to-legal-aid-and-compensation/1680765504.
What Can Banks Do to Stop Human Trafficking? Plenty.
Human Trafficking: How Businesses Can Combat the Modern Slavery Epidemic. Risk Managment, 3 Sept. 2019, www.rmmagazine.com/articles/article/2019/09/03/-Human-Trafficking-How-Businesses-Can-Combat-the-Modern-Slavery-Epidemic-. Accessed 9 Nov. 2023.