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Social Justice: Human Trafficking

Introduction

Human trafficking is one of the world's most profitable businesses, after drugs and weapons sales. Worldwide, there are millions of enslaved people, mostly women and children.

Trafficking in Persons

Over the past 15 years, “trafficking in persons” or “human trafficking” have been used as umbrella terms for activities involved when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service. The TVPA [Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act] describes this compelled service using a number of different terms: involuntary servitude, slavery, debt bondage, and forced labor.

Under the TVPA, a person may be a trafficking victim regardless of whether they once consented, participated in a crime as a direct result of being trafficked, were transported into the exploitative situation, or were simply born into a state of servitude. At the heart of this phenomenon are the myriad forms of enslavement – not the activities involved in international transportation.

Major forms of Human Trafficking include:

Forced Labor

Recent studies show the majority of human trafficking in the world takes the form of forced labor.

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking comprises a smaller but still significant portion of overall human trafficking. When an adult is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution – or maintained in prostitution through coercion – that person is a victim of trafficking.

Bonded Labor

One form of force or coercion is the use of a bond, or debt. Often referred to as “bonded labor” or “debt bondage,” the practice has long been prohibited under U.S. law by its Spanish name – peonage – and the Palermo Protocol requires its criminalization as a form of trafficking in persons.

Debt Bondage Among Migrant Laborers

Abuses of contracts and hazardous conditions of employment for migrant laborers do not necessarily constitute human trafficking. However, the attribution of illegal costs and debts on these laborers in the source country, often with the support of labor agencies and employers in the destination country, can contribute to a situation of debt bondage.

Involuntary Domestic Servitude

A unique form of forced labor is the involuntary servitude of domestic workers, whose workplace is informal, connected to their off-duty living quarters, and not often shared with other workers.

Forced Child Labor

Most international organizations and national laws recognize children may legally engage in certain forms of work. There is a growing consensus, however, that the worst forms of child labor should be eradicated.

Child Soldiers

Child soldiering can be a manifestation of human trafficking where it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children – through force, fraud, or coercion – as combatants or for labor or sexual exploitation by armed forces.

Child Sex Trafficking

According to UNICEF, as many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. International covenants and protocols obligate criminalization of the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

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Suggested Websites

"For a World Without Slavery"

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