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Human trafficking is the number one fastest growing illicit trade in the world. It is often referred to as “modern-day slavery”. Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings. The victims are transported from their homeland to another. They are forced, coerced, threatened and tortured to perform such duties as: forced labor, prostitution, sexual exploitation and or slavery. Victims have also been killed for their body parts such as: organs and cells and sold for transplantation purposes. Trafficking does not only affect women. Young boys and girls regardless of age, race and citizenship status are also trafficked. The supply and demand for human trafficking evolve from weak economies, failed states, restrictive policies for immigration and the demand for global labor. Prior to 2000, there were no comprehensive Federal Laws protecting victims from being transported and sold which made it difficult to prosecute traffickers. On October 28, 2000, The President of the United States, Bill Clinton, signed The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. It became a federal crime to transport and harbor individuals by use of fraud, force and or coercion above the age of 18, as well as unlawfully confiscate their documentation, such as passports and birth certificates. If the individual is under the age of 18, proof of fraud, force and or coercion is not necessary. The Act also aids victims in the United States helping them rebuild their life after having been rescued by their captors. It provides shelters, rehabilitation programs and relief from deportation in order avoid any kind of retribution in their native homeland. The Act also aids other countries in the fight against transporting victims over seas. This law supplements existing laws that apply to human trafficking, such as the 13th Amendment, The Mann Act, and Sections 1581 and 1584 of Title 18, which criminalizes peonage involuntary servitude (VTVPA P.L. 4:2000). The United States is the primary country used to transport victims from their native homeland. It estimates that 820,000 persons are trafficked annually and are deprived of their freedom and human rights. Eighty percent are young girls and women and nearly half are minors. Once the victim is in the hands of their trafficker, they are detained against their will. If they try to escape or defy rules, they are severely beaten, starved, raped or murdered. They are forced to work in the most inhumane way imaginable. Each year, approximately 50,000 women and children are transported under false pretenses. They are promised a better life by their traffickers who have manipulated them into believing they have provided them with employment, a paycheck and security. The majority of victims traffickers recruit come from broken homes, impoverished origins and have little to no education. The countries from where they are transported are; Africa, Asia, Mexico and Eastern Europe. There are three elements of human trafficking; the act, the mean and the purpose. The act refers to the transportation, recruitment and harboring of individuals. The mean is the method used to detain the individuals such as by use of force, fraud, threat, violence, abduction, manipulation and ransom. The purpose of human trafficking is financial prosperity for the traffickers. They prosper by forcefully employing their victims in the most undignified way imaginable, thus making it financially possible for the traffickers to expand their criminal organization within the United States and worldwide. The major forms of human trafficking are: forced labor, sex trafficking, debt bondage among migrant laborers, child labor and child sex trafficking.
Forced labor is also referred to as involuntary servitude. The victim is exploited by an immoral employer who takes advantage of economic problems such as high unemployment, poverty, lack of economic opportunities in their country of origin and discrimination. The traffickers force the victims to work long hard hours for very low pay. If the victim complains, they suffer harsh consequences. Women and young girls are mostly targeted. They are used for sexual exploitation or slavery.
Debt bondage among migrant laborers refers to traffickers who enforce a debt to the victim who initially assumed that the negotiations were finalized and their debt was paid in full. The trafficker uses this form of manipulation to detain the victim longer than initially agreed upon. The victim has no choice but to work hard and reimburse the trafficker a certain amount of their paycheck for having been transported. Immigrants are the most targeted individuals because the traffickers know they are in dire financial necessity, fear deportation and the judicial system. The victims are also threatened, beaten and held against their will until their debt is paid off. The trafficker may also threaten the victims family members back home requesting a ransom for their release.
The methods of control used against women forced into sexual slavery vary. They include withholding money, isolation, and drug or alcohol dependence, which is most often used by women to cope with their lives although it is sometimes forced upon them (Parrot and Cummings 2008:9). The victim may also be sold or traded repeatedly to other traffickers within the organization. They are never kept in one place for a long period of time. They are moved around frequently to avoid being recognized and found by their family members. They are also moved around frequently to avoid a personal relationship developing between the victim and a customer for fear that the victim would reveal her situation and the customer would inform authorities. The victims are mostly women between the ages of 18 and 24. They are psychologically abused into believing they have to work off their transportation debt to the trafficker before they can be released. If the individual refuses to participate or defies any rules, they are severely beaten, raped and tortured. The traffickers may also threaten the victims family members back home. They use every maneuver possible to keep the victim working and afraid. Sadly, many prostitutes die from sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDS. They also die from malnourishment, untreated medical issues or suicide. The life expectancy of a victim in this situation is 3 to 4 years.
Child labor and child sex trafficking involves children between the ages of 7 and 16 years. They are kidnapped from public places, lured away from unsuspecting parents, school grounds or while playing outside their homes. Some children are even sold by their own parents out of financial desperation. They are used as tools and forced to work for no pay and little food in sweat shops, farms and households. The children are held captive by the traffickers who rent them out or sell them to individuals who retain their services. The children are also forced into prostitution and are sexually exploited. Many of the children are raped, beaten, starved and even killed for disobeying their employer.
In 1999, New Jeresy Representative Christopher Smith introduced The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act which later came into law on October 28, 2000. This legislation supplemented existing statutes applicable in many trafficking cases such as human smuggling, kidnapping, prostitution, organized crime, racketeering, and money laundering (Ebbe and Das 2008:147). Since the enactment of this law, several United States Departments, such as the Department of Justice, the Departments of State, Health and Human Services along with the Department of Labor have joined together in the fight against human trafficking. Together, they created the Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force. The task force set up a toll free complain hotline for citizens to phone in and report possible trafficking activities. Based on the information provided, personnel forwards alleged complaints to federal authorities and prosecutors for further investigation and possible prosecution. However, not all cases are prosecuted. Many of the victims who are rescued refuse to cooperate because of the traumatic psychological and physical abuse they experienced while detained. They have been deeply brainwashed to believing that both they along with their families will be hurt or murdered if they cooperate with authorities. Many victims, even though frightened to death of their abusers, feel a loyalty toward them and refuse to cooperate in any way with authorities. If the victim is adamant in refusing to cooperate, they are deported back to their homeland, flee or end up going back to their abusers. It may take anywhere between weeks, months and even years, depending on the severe psychological, emotional and physical abuse suffered by the victim, before they begin to discuss what happened to them and who hurt them.
Responsibilities for pursuing trafficking crimes fall to multiple federal agencies, including the FBI and ICE, which investigate these crimes; CRT/CS, CEOS, and U.S. Attorneys Offices, which prosecute traffickers; and other agencies within DHS and DOJ and components of DOL and DOS that support U.S. efforts to to investigate and prosecute trafficking in persons (Novinka 2008:12). The assistance of both state and local authorities are beneficial in order to prosecute traffickers. Not only are they are more familiar with their jurisdictions, they also work with many nongovernmental organizations within the jurisdiction such as shelters and counseling programs. Many victims find it easier to open up or trust a counselor as opposed to a law enforcement officer. Since human trafficking is also a transnational crime, federal agencies require the assistance from foreign governments and international law enforcement agents in order to investigate and prosecute traffickers within the United States which only increases the need for funding and manpower. It is estimated that nearly 42 billion dollars a year worldwide is profited from human trafficking, making it the second fasted growing criminal industry next to drugs.
The best defense against human trafficking is education, which can be difficult to teach. Bringing awareness to people, in the United States and world wide can reduce the number of victims being exploited annually. Unfortunately, Africa, South East Asia and South America are the areas with the highest victims of this crime. The majority of the people have little to no education and are unable to read or write. They live in impoverished communities and are easily vulnerable to job opportunities in other countries. Another defense against human trafficking is stiffening the penalties for traffickers who transport people for indentured servitude. Each year, Congress continues to create and amend laws for traffickers who continue to profit from another person.References
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. 2000 Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice. 4.Bales, K., and Soodalter, R. 2009. The Slave Next Door. Los Angeles, Ca.; University of California Press Berkley.Ebbe, O. and Das, D. 2008. Global Trafficking in Woman and Children. Boca Raton, Fla.Michale, Kolby. 2011. A Look At Human Trafficking: The Dark Side of the Sex Industry. Websters Digital Services.Novinka. 2008. Human Trafficking Crimes. Nova Science Publishers

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