The exploitation and trafficking of women, men, and children is a humanitarian problem on a global scale in which “worldwide, there are between 12 million and 27 million trafficking victims… the International Labor Organization estimates that more than 20 million men, women, and children are victimized by forced labor and sex trafficking worldwide, including the United States.” (Zurita) The United Nations Office of Drug and Crime defines human trafficking as: 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 payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs. There are two different types of exploitation: Consensual and nonconsensual. The next section, section 2, will inaugurate a communal vocabulary and define exactly what human trafficking is, consensual exploitation, and nonconsensual exploitation.
Section 2: Origin of the Problem
For thousands of years, human trafficking and exploitation has been occurring throughout the world. Since the beginning of time with the ancient Greeks and Romans to the medieval times occurring into today’s society, people have been forced to into sexual and physical slavery. The 1400s manifested the start of European slave trading in Africa with the Portuguese people transporting people from Africa to Portugal as slaves. In 1562, Britain joined in on the slave trade and helped develop the colonies full of plantations. “Later in the 1600s Spain, North America, Holland, France, Sweden, and Denmark all became involved in human trafficking.” (Kangaspunta). Skipping forward to 1904, “the International Agreement for the Suppression of “White Slave Traffic” was signed and put into action. The purpose of this agreement was to protect women from being involved in white slave traffic. White slavery referred to forcing or deceiving a white woman or girl into prostitution.” (Kangaspunta).
In 1927, after World War 1 the League of Nations focused on major international issues such as human trafficking. The Suppression of White Slave Traffic was changed to “traffic in women and children”. This was also the era when studies were conducted to find out the actual number of people trafficked. “Factors that were measured included the number of women engaged in prostitution, the demand, and the surrounding environment of the women who were trafficked as well as the traffickers” (Kangaspunta). In 1995, there was a immense accomplishment for women, children, and men everywhere.
The United Nations recognized that trafficking was in fact an act of violence against women and the concept of trafficking was defined. (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women). During the fourth world conference they addressed issues such as enforcing international conventions on trafficking and human slavery, address the factors that encourage trafficking, set up laws and organizations who would help eliminate trafficking nationally and internationally. Finally in October of 2000, “the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 made human trafficking a federal crime and intact was to methods to prevent human trafficking overseas, to protect victims and help them rebuild their lives in the United States, and to prosecute traffickers of humans under Federal penalties.” (State).
Section 2.1: What is Human Trafficking?
Until 2000, no country, state, or city could settle on exactly the meaning of trafficking. Originally, in 1927 trafficking was defined as white women and girls sold or forced into prostitution. Just like history; however, the definition of trafficking evolved to include types of force, fraud, or coercion beyond sexual exploitation. In 2000, the Fourth World Conference agreed to a definition for trafficking in people that can be found in the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children: 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 payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs. (Europol) Human trafficking has three elements that give the basis of the definition stated above: The Act (What is Done), The Means (How it is done), and The Purpose (Why is it done). Shown below is a chart from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime that explains exactly what each section does and how it contributes to the definition of human trafficking. Along with the definition that was decided to be used internationally, Congress decided to define and classify trafficking into two different categories: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking is: The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is younger than age 18. A commercial sex act means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.
Types of sex trafficking include prostitution, pornography, stripping, live-sex shows, mail-order brides, military prostitution, and sex tourism. (Clawson). Labor trafficking is defined as: “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery” (Resettlement). Just like sex trafficking, labor trafficking has several forms of practices such as bonded labor, forced labor, and child labor. Bonded labor: Better known as debt bondage and is the least known form of trafficking; however, it has the highest and widest method of enslaving people.
Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service in which its terms and conditions have not been defined or in which the value of the victims’ services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. (Resettlement) Forced labor is “a situation in which victims are forced to work against their own will, under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment, their freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted. Forced labor can include domestic servitude, agricultural labor, sweatshop factory labor, janitorial, food service and other service industry labor, and begging. (Resettlement) Child labor is a form of work that is likely to be hazardous to the health, physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development of children and often interferes with their education.
Section 2.2: What is exploitation?
Exploitation is defined as “the action or fact of treats someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work” (editors). Exploitation is broken down into two different forms just like sexual trafficking. The two forms of exploitations are: nonconsensual and consensual. “Nonconsensual forms of exploitation involve an element of coercion, fraud, or deception, whereas consensual exploitation typically results from a lack of other economic opportunities and leads to the unfair treatment of the exploited.” (Koettl) The other form of exploitation is consensual form which allows victims to exploit their self because they have no other options. This can be the case in lower income families and also causes these cases to often turn into nonconsensual cases.
Section 3: Problem Statement
The availability of data on human trafficking and how it affects the economy on the Gulf Coast is quite limited. Due to limited amount of data I believe proving that the economy on the Gulf Coast is indeed affected by humans being trafficked along our major roadways and through our waters. However, I do have some data and information that pertain to human trafficking and the economy as it correlates around the United States and around the rest of the world. Victims of human trafficking correlate by their economic social status and lack of family support or work opportunities.
Section 4: Who are the Victims?
Most of the victims are in such poverty that they will do whatever it takes to help their family survive. Victims are lured by false promises of a job, stability, education, or a loving stable family. Human trafficking is a never ending cycle with an economic crisis surfacing; the demand for cheap fast labor is quickly on the rise. Due to the economy plummeting people are look for jobs farther away from their homes to support their families. Due to this people are becoming homeless and unemployed with no one looking for them which gives traffickers the perfect victim. The perfect victim is someone who no one is going to miss, illiterate most times, completely poor, and often live under very serious health violations and do not have enough food to feed their self. As these people become poor and poor, human traffickers are going to be able to start connecting more supply of labor to areas where labor is demanded.
Most importantly to remember about these victims is that anyone can be a victim. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender have reported that they are more likely and more vulnerable to traffickers who prey on the desperation of those wanting to escape social alienation and maltreatment.
Section 4.1: Who are the Traffickers?
Human traffickers typically involve an organized crime group who specialize in this area. They generate a huge profit for their criminal organization or for individuals they make a huge profit for their own personal gain. In a recent study conducted by Advocates for Freedom, 52% of those recruiting victims were men, 42% were women, and 6% was a male and a female working together. While 54% of the cases the recruiter was a stranger to the victim and the other 46% the victim knew their recruiter. One of the incentives for trafficking is going to be the vast profit that these traffickers, buyers, and criminal societies that keep the companies going strictly for this reason. In all honesty, human trafficking brings in billions of billions of dollars in profit. In the United States, traffickers are making $67, 200 annually per victim. However, it is the distribution of the money that continues to spark poverty and unemployment and allows traffickers to always have new “workers”.
Section 4.2: Economic Impacts
Poverty, unemployment, and a lack of opportunity in the workforce makes millions of people look for a better life by leaving places they love and call home. This big business brings the United States $32 billion annually and every year traffickers alone make $4,000 to $50,000 per person trafficked depending on the victim’s place of origin and destination. Every time a person is trafficked that country’s economy takes a significant loss of human and social capital. It also effects the economy due to the hindrance in the educational process and the victims’ psychological health sometimes makes the person exclude themselves from society due to their trauma. When victims exclude their self from society, the economy in that particular area is no longer gaining the revenue that could have been earned from this victim from something as minor as buying a new dress for a company dinner.
The cost of trafficking incorporates many elements that effect the economic impact such as “the resources devoted to its prevention, the treatment and support of victims and the apprehension and prosecution of offenders.” (Nations) Trafficking also results in a significant loss of human resources and tax revenue reductions. Furthermore, trafficking redirects the benefits of migration from the migrant, family, community, and government to strictly the trafficker and their associates. Many countries, the United States included, suffer from the economic effects of human trafficking which include: lack of law enforcement, decrease in human productivity due to health conditions, and circulation of money throughout the criminal organization.
Section 5: What does this have to do with Mississippi?
Mississippi does in fact have human trafficking that has turned into a heinous system operation here in our backyards. Even though law enforcement and even Mississippi Attorney General’s Office have put together a task force that specializes in trafficking, more than 350,000 people are still sliding by undetected and unreported. Here in Mississippi traffickers are using the Gulf of Mexico, Highway 90, and Interstate 10 as the most popular outlets out of the state. If we continue to allow trafficking to happen right here on the Gulf Coast, we are going to see a huge change in the labor mark and economic dislocation. The Gulf Coast is slowly going to see people compelled to leave their homes in search of a better living and as a result of this the people of the Gulf Coast are going to become involved in human trafficking.
Another side effect of allowing trafficking to continue is due to the Gulf Coast being right against the Gulf of Mexico, we are going to begin seeing a huge flood of humans from less developed regions pull into our docks. Traffickers are increasingly utilizing the Gulf of Mexico as an entry point which allows traffickers to sell their victims to local business owner. In return, local business owners are going to “hire” these victims and not hire local people to do a job because they can pay less to the victims and save their self-money. If this was to continue to occur, the people of the Gulf Coast are going to have to migrate away for a better life and thus start the train of trafficking all over again.
Section 6: Literary Review
Reported estimates of human trafficking worldwide, in the United States, and specifically in Mississippi were reviewed to gain statistical information and other pertinent details. The research was conducted by Web sites of Federal agencies, legal cases that involve acts of human trafficking, different databases such as Europol, and three books. The first book: The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today written by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter talks about the heinous and disturbing cases of human trafficking through different voices such as slaves, traffickers, counselors, and law enforcement. The second book is The Red Market written by Scott Carney and it describes illegal trading and trafficking especially of humans and their body parts. Lastly, the third book: Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy by Moises Naim and it talks about investigations that prove the economy is changing due to traffickers.
Section 7: Methodology
The data was gathered over a multitude of months by using the internet, books, and interviews with people inside the FBI, police forces locally, WXXV Alyssa Meisner, and Advocates for Freedom Mrs. Harvill. For the past couple of months I have analyzed each piece of evidence presented to me and came to the conclusion that human trafficking does indeed affect the economy in Mississippi. However, there was some limitations that I found during my research. The primary limitation of this paper is the lack of data for Mississippi, particularly data for trafficking on the Gulf Coast. For example, there were plenty of news articles about human trafficking happening on the Gulf Coast, but there was no statistical information pertaining to the Gulf Coast.
Section 8: Conclusion
In conclusion, the exploitation and trafficking of men, women, and children is a humanitarian problem that affects the economy in a multitude of ways. Through this paper, the definition of human trafficking has become clearer to the audience as well as the economic affects human trafficking has not only in the United States but also right here on the Gulf Coast.
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