HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS DEFINED BY THE UN AS:
The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Article 3, paragraph (a) of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons
The act of trafficking human beings is a gross human rights violation. Contrary to popular belief, human trafficking is not only about the buying and selling human beings, nor is it particularly commonplace that men, women and children are abducted in the first instance.
There are five main components of human trafficking:
- RECRUITMENT – Vulnerable and marginalised individuals are targeted for recruitment by the trafficking networks in their home towns and countries and second and third countries.
- DECEPTION – Most often, the recruitment of potential victims is achieved through deception. Vulnerable and marginalised individuals and/or their families are told, for instance, by men and women working in the trafficking networks, untruths about a more fruitful working life awaiting them in another location
- MOVEMENT – Potential victims of human trafficking are constantly moved from one location to another but not necessarily across a national border.
- COERCION – At some point, whether at the recruitment stage, during transit, or upon arrival at a destination, the trafficker uses coercion (i.e. force and threats) to get the victim to do what they want them to.
- EXPLOITATION – At some point, whether at the recruitment stage, during transit, or upon arrival at the destination, the trafficker underhandedly benefits from the trafficked person’s human resources (or lack thereof), most often financially.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING DOES NOT HAPPEN IN A VACUUM; THERE ARE DRIVING FORCES BEHIND THE PHENOMENON THAT CREATE THE PERFECT CONDITIONS FOR THE INDUSTRY TO THRIVE
Previously it was common to speak about the push and pull factors when explaining the complexity of the challenge of attempting to combat human trafficking: push factors (i.e. reasons that push them to leave) include poverty, lack of work opportunity, domestic violence and such; pull factors (i.e. motives that pull or create a need for them to go to a destination) could include a shortage of cheap labour, high demand for sex workers. As more is understood about human trafficking, there is recognition that a more dynamic approach to tackling the problem is needed, as the situation is highly complex.
In a project funded by the European Union (2014-2016), a research group, TRACE (Trafficking As a Criminal Enterprise), identified several driving forces behind human trafficking. These driving forces are grouped into socio-economic, political, and global factors (see the diagram sourced from the handbook Tracing Human Trafficking).
The three forces are interrelated and work together to create favourable conditions for traffickers to recruit, deceive, move, coerce and exploit vulnerable human beings. Thus, making human trafficking one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world.
In light of the numerous factors involved that intersect and overlap, support and undermine one another, HopeNow believes grassroots organisations can’t combat human trafficking alone. It requires a concerted effort from many entities.
HopeNow support and empower victims of trafficking, whether they are officially identified as trafficked or not. We share our knowledge and experience with authorities, businesses, and the wider population, thus supporting policy and behavioural changes that can disrupt this thriving industry.