Ending Human Trafficking: Challenges and Solutions

The culture of slavery began thousands of years ago. Women, men, and children were forcefully transported to different parts of the world to operate as laborers, warriors, or sex slaves. With countries ultimately acquiring autonomy and overcoming this inhumane practice, slavery is perceived to be an eliminated problem. Unfortunately, this is not true. Slavery has evolved and reemerged in the modern era in the form of human trafficking (Piotrowicz, Rijken, & Uhl, 2018). Indeed, it is often referred to as modern-day slavery.

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Human trafficking violates all the fundamental rights of a human being. Granted, organizations and governments have used an array of legal, economic, and social approaches to deal with this global challenge. Unfortunately, the practice is still rampant in various underdeveloped, developing, and developed nations (Enrile, 2018). This status quo forms the foundation of this research paper. The ensuing discussion will seek to answer the following research question: What are the existing obstacles in ending human trafficking, and what are the applicable solutions?

Problem Statement

Human trafficking is one of the largest and fast-growing illegal activities in the world. It is prevalent in underdeveloped, developing, and developed countries. In the U.S., the government has strived to deal with this crime by introducing a legal framework that encompasses laws such as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Even with such laws, human trafficking is still a major problem in the U.S. and other parts of the world. The only way to address this issue is to identify the challenges of ending human trafficking and introduce efficient solutions.

Hypothesis

Government efforts can suppress the challenges of ending human trafficking through TVPA.

Literature Review

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, 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 payment or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation” (Piotrowicz, Rijken, & Uhl, 2018).

It is one of the largest illegal practices globally. Traffickers are known to take advantage of vulnerable people. These individuals are often;

  • Homeless
  • Immigrants
  • Ethnic, cultural, or political minority
  • From a poor background
  • Raised under foster care
  • Experienced domestic violence or sexual abuse
  • Experienced political unrest or natural disasters

Human trafficking appears in different forms, including:

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Forced Labor

It involves any kind of service that a person is subjected to involuntarily. This includes sexual exploitation, involuntary domestic work, and debt bondage. According to the International Labor Organization, close to 25 million individuals are subjected to this type of tracking annually. This illegal subsector yields about $150 billion yearly (Aronowitz, 2017).

Forced Marriage

Over 15 million people within different age groups are married against their will. In most cases, these individuals are further subjected to domestic servitude or other versions of forced labor as well as sexual exploitation (Piotrowicz, Rijken, & Uhl, 2018).

Sex Trafficking

It entails the use of coercion, fraud, or force to recruit, transport, or harbor individuals for sexual exploitation. This kind of inhumane treatment often takes place in private homes or entertainment joints such as brothels and strip clubs. While women and children form a large part of the victims of this kind of human trafficking, members of the LGBT community have also become a target. The International Labor Organization indicates that 4.8 million people encounter sex trafficking (Aronowitz, 2017).

Child trafficking

No human being, regardless of their age, should be trafficked. However, the risks are compounded when the victim is a minor. Traffickers exploit the innocence of children by using threats or coercion to transform them into soldiers, workers in homes or businesses, wives, thieves, beggars, or sexual partners. For instance, there are close to 170 million child laborers. Half of these minors are exposed to hazardous working conditions (Piotrowicz, Rijken, & Uhl, 2018). Such figures highlight the expansive nature of human trafficking and the urgent need for effective solutions. In addition to affecting their physical health, child trafficking has a negative effect on the victims’ social, psychological, and emotional wellbeing. For example, minors who are placed on the street to beg are further exposed to sexual assault, physical violence, and psychological torture.

Human trafficking in the United States

Human trafficking is not just a problem in third-world countries. In fact, the practice is a huge issue in the U.S. despite its position as one of the powerful nations worldwide. The State Department has ranked it among the top three countries where most trafficked individuals came from. The other two states in this category are the Philippines and Mexico.

Over 15,000 individuals are trafficked into the U.S. every year. These vulnerable persons, who are of different ages and gender, are subjected to forced labor or sexual exploitation (Enrile, 2018). Interestingly, the availed figures may be lower than the scenario on the ground. It is difficult to collect accurate data since most of the cases go unreported. This challenge can be linked to two factors:

Illegal migration

The proverbial American dream attracts individuals from all over the world. The immigrants leave their countries of origin in search of a better life for themselves and their dependents. Unfortunately, the process of attaining U.S. citizenship is complex. Accordingly, a large number of foreigners use illegal means to enter the country. Upon getting into America, most of them are willing to engage in any activity to earn a living (Aronowitz, 2017). Traffickers take advantage of such disparate individuals. However, the victims often don’t seek help from law enforcement agencies for fear of arrest or deportation.

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Age of the victim

A significant percentage of the people trafficked to and within the United States are minors. Due to their innocence, it is easy to use threats or coercion to introduce them to domestic servitude or sexual activities (Enrile, 2018). The intimidation discourages the children from reporting their ordeals to the relevant authorities. The recent cases of R. Kelly and Jeffrey Edward Epstein are an accurate representation of the numerous child trafficking incidences that go undetected and unpunished.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act

One of the ways of suppressing human trafficking is to formulate and implement effective laws at a national and global level. This is largely based on the fact that governments have a crucial role to play in improving the current situation. With the United States being one of the regions that are most affected by human trafficking, the federal and state administrations acknowledge that they have a responsibility to end the vice. This argument is the foundation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) enacted in 2000. It focuses on protecting the victims of human trafficking, taking legal action against the involve criminals, and maintaining an environment that makes it difficult for the vice to flourish (ATEST, 2017).

Methodology

Secondary sources will be used due to the nature of this study. In order to acquire detailed information necessary to answer the formulated research question, this study will focus on publications that are not more than five years old. The utilized data will be largely qualitative. The data collection process will be followed by data analysis, a step that will be from the “findings and discussion” section.

Findings and Discussion

The U.S state and federal administrations, NGOs, religious institutions, and other relevant stakeholders have made notable progress in ending modern-day slavery. These remarkable efforts are aligned with the TVPA. For instance, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been working closely with the Departments of Justice as well as Health and Human Services to raise awareness on the issue and execute anti-trafficking projects.

Additionally, the U.S. federal government offers a Trafficking Visa to the victims of this illegal. By providing them with permanent residency in America, the administration is able to protect these vulnerable individuals from the traffickers in their home countries (ATEST, 2017). While these are all effective inputs, the estimated data for trafficked humans in the country is still astonishing. The status quo is largely due to the following challenges:

Victim identification

Teachers, health care professionals, religious leaders, social workers, and other workers who are in constant contact with the general public may have interacted with trafficked individuals without knowing it. The challenge of identifying a victim of human trafficking results in such professionals losing the opportunity to rescue these people from their oppressors (Human Trafficking Search, 2019). Due to the fear instilled in the victims by their traffickers, they are bound to remain silent about their ordeals.

Technology

In every sphere of life, technology has proved to be a good servant but a bad master. With reference to human trafficking, it has been used by the traffickers with similar vigor as the anti-trafficking stakeholders. For instance, there are numerous websites that claim to connect individuals in underdeveloped and developing nations with employees in developed countries (Enrile, 2018). The Internet has also enabled sex traffickers to find innocent people and sell the illegally-acquired sexual content.

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Ambiguous laws

On the one hand, laws such as TVPA are keen on ensuring that the victims of human trafficking do not face further oppression at the hands of their traffickers, the law enforcement agencies, or the general public. This legal framework acknowledges that these victims are not to blame for their ordeals regardless of their age, migration status, or gender. At the same time, law enforcers in the U.S. often arrest minors involved in prostitution. Such contradicting rules discourage victims from reporting their cases to the police (Aronowitz, 2017). Additionally, it is easy for traffickers to manipulate such provisions to escape lawsuits.

Solutions

It is important to consider solutions that are specific to the identified concerns as opposed to using a blanket approach of addressing the entire human trafficking problem. Some of the applicable recommendations include:

Training different professionals on how to identify and assist victims

If the potential aides who interact with trafficked individuals constantly do not have ample awareness on who and how they should assist with reference to this global issue, no legal framework will be enough to end the practice. The relevant government agencies should work closely with other organizations and individuals concerned with human trafficking to educate potential rescuers about the clues that can help them identify trafficked individuals (Aronowitz, 2017). This includes:

  • Bruises or other signs of physical assault
  • Being controlled
  • Inability to shift residency or leave a particular job
  • Depression or fear
  • speaking a foreign language
  • recently relocated to the country
  • lack of any identification or immigration document

Upon identifying one or more of these clues, the professional should look for a private and safe place to talk to the potential victim. He or she should strive to win the trust of the individual by proving that he or she is there to help the trafficked person. It is important to ask all the questions that can be crucial in assisting the victim (Human Trafficking Search, 2019). Additionally, ensure that any person accompanying the person in question is not around during the conversation since he or she may be part of the trafficking.

Using technology to create awareness and capture traffickers

TVPA focuses on protecting victims of human trafficking as well as taking legal action against the involved criminals. In order to implement this lawfully, the government should use its authority and resources to shut down the websites linked to any form of human trafficking. This also involves closing any bank account that is suspected to be used by a trafficker. The use of the technology as an anti-trafficking tool also entails using mass and social media platforms to create awareness on the vice, laws that protect the victims, and the organizations that offer help to the affected persons (Human Trafficking Search, 2019).

Legal amendments

The U.S. government has the mandate of protecting the existing and potential victims of human trafficking by enacting and implementing effective laws. TVPA is one of the efficient laws regarding this social problem. Accordingly, the administration should amend any other laws that contradict the TVPA provisions (Enrile, 2018). For instance, it should focus on rescuing child “prostitutes” rather than categorizing them as criminals.

Conclusion

Human trafficking is a major problem in the U.S. and other parts of the world. It violates all the fundamental rights of a human being. The governments acknowledge that they are a crucial role to play in ending this vice. This is the reason for the establishment of laws like the TVPA. Unfortunately, there are still some challenges that hinder the effective implementation of these laws. Accordingly, there is a need for governments to work closely with other stakeholders to deal with the identified loopholes. It lays the foundation for improvements at the national and global levels.

References

Aronowitz, A. A. (2017). Human trafficking: A reference handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

ATEST (2017). Summary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and Reauthorizations FY 2017. Web.

Enrile, A. V. (2018). Ending human trafficking and modern-day slavery: Freedom’s journey. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Human Trafficking Search (2019). What is human trafficking? Web.

Piotrowicz, R. W., Rijken, C., & Uhl, B. H. (2018). Routledge handbook of human trafficking. New York. NY: Routledge.

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