Human Trafficking


Human trafficking has been recognized one of the widespread problems in contemporary world (Kuhl, 2011, p.2). Research states that among a variety of criminal industries today, human trafficking is the fastest-growing (Goodey, 2008, p.433). The International Labour Organization provides data that more than 2.4 million people are forced to work as slaves owing to human trafficking. Also, 800, 000 people are reported trafficked every year across state and international borders (Kuhl. 2011, p.9).

This paper provides an overview of human trafficking practices today. After providing the definitions of human trafficking and commenting in the nature of this phenomenon, the paper explores the range of violence associated with human trafficking. Also, it examines health outcomes of human trafficking and comments on the adequate course of action aimed at tackling human trafficking in the world. 

Nature of Human Trafficking

Trafficking in humans refers to labor as well as sexual exploitation. Legally, human trafficking has been defined as the one that consists of ‘sex trafficking’ and trafficking done ‘for labor or services’ (Simmons & David, 2012, p.70). Its victims are kids and adults, men and women. Besides, human trafficking should not be understood as merely an international crime, but as the crime that is widespread within the borders of one country.

The definition provided by the United Nations is trafficking refers to individuals’ recruitment and movement for the purposes of exploitation and using force, deceptive practices and coercion. In relation to this, human trafficking is recognized the serious violation of human rights and the modern variant of the slave trade. It has been criminalized in a variety of countries across the globe (Oram et al, 2012). 

Zhang defines human trafficking as movement of some foreign national to a different country through coercion and fraud. Coercion, according to Zhang, is important for distinguishing between human trafficking and human smuggling, since smuggling refers to those who are willing to move to another country and even pay for this (Zhang, 2007). On the contrary, human trafficking is about moving people against their will to some other location or a foreign country and placing them into slave-like conditions (Kuhl, 2011, p.8).

It is worth mentioning that the present understanding of human trafficking as a coercive action has evolved during the last decade and a half. In the mid-1990s the term ‘trafficking’ was widely used to speak of what smuggling is today. Yet, by the beginning of the 2000s the term trafficking started to be applied in the new meaning owing to the adoption of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplement the “United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons” back in 2000.

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The UN General Assembly defined “trafficking in persons” 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 of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” (United Nations)  

In the center of human trafficking, there lie such exploitative practices as fraud, threat, deception, and force. It has been established that since 1980s the primary focus of trafficking has been sexual exploitation (Goodey, 2008). Today, species of trafficking that start to get increasing attention are child trafficking and trafficking for the purposes of labor exploitation (Goodey, 2008, p.436).

Findings by Ditmore and Thukral published in “Accountability and the Use of Raids to Fight Trafficking” describe the trafficking experience by women trafficked to the United States from various parts of the world. For example, Lily, who was picked up in one of anti-trafficking raids, says: “They were wearing guns and uniforms, and it made me very scared. They didn’t tell us anything. They treated us like criminals during the arrest and it was scary”   (Ditmore & Thukral, 2012, p.140). Out of 15 participants interviewed by Ditmore & Thurkal, 12 were engaged in sex work with employment in strip clubs, brothels, and massage parlors. The remaning three participants worked in some other sectors such as domestic work (Ditmore & Thukral, 2012, p.140).

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The trafficking process has been conceptualized as the one that covers 5 basic stages. These are “pre-departure, travel and transit, destination, detention, deportation and criminal evidence, as well as integration and re-integration” (Ostrovschi et al, 2011).

Human Trafficking as Modern Day Slavery

The other term to describe human trafficking is ‘modern day slavery’ and ‘a modern form of slavery’ (Goodey, 2008, p.422; Ostrovschi et al, 2011, 232). Statistically, the overall number of slaves is estimated as the one between 25 and 27 million people globally (Kuhl, 2011, p.7; Oram et al, 2012).

Ironically, slaves of the past were considered quite worthy, since one could cost as much as 40 thousand dollars in modern equivalent; as for modern slaves, sometimes you can buy one for as little as 10 dollars (Masci qtd in Kuhl, 2011, p. 5). Modern slavery offers cheap and rather disposable resources. Typically, it encompasses such components as sex slavery, debt bondage, and forced labor.

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Under the term ‘slave’, one may well understand a person that is being held in bondage to somebody or a person that is the property of another person. Forced labor is just one of the forms of slavery, with “the master” considering his worker as his property and a commodity that may be exchanged for other commodities such as automobiles or money. Such slaves are frequently engaged in sexual servitude. Research provides data about the high rates of this slavery use in Africa.

Further, debt bondage refers to the practice of bonded labor when a slave is typically promised that he or she will be freed after they pay off their original debt. According to the explanation given by ILO (abbreviation for the International Labor Organization), debt bondage is “still widespread in some countries and affects a significant number of people.

The victims of debt bondage are the poorest people, often illiterate and relatively easy to deceive and be kept in ignorance of their rights; if they try to leave their employment, they are usually caught and returned by force. According to the reports, bonded labor is widespread in agriculture, but has been also detected in mines, brick kilns, leather, fish processing and  carpet factories” (ILO, 2007, p.37).

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