by Aleasa Robinson
Each year, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people are human trafficked across international borders (Office of Victims of Crime). The market is only growing and this shows cause for great concern. The selection of victims is not limited by gender, race, age, etc. Though there is a trend towards women and children, men are not exempt of victimization. Traffickers may use any means necessary to coerce their victims into the system; this can include offering them job opportunities, romantic ventures or even resorting to a great amount of violence. Understanding the full impact of human trafficking on a general society has the capability to lower the number of people forced into the system.
Human trafficking is defined as the illegal transportation of people from one country to another, typically for the purpose of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation (U.S. Department of Homeland Security). It is important to understand because human trafficking is, at its core, a grave violation of basic human rights. Its economic benefits stem from the unpaid laborers, forcing them to work themselves into the ground, if only to keep their lives. It is estimated to generate about $150 billion, annually (Human Rights First). It is one of the highest earning organized crimes, beat only by drug and arms trade (Dunken Law Firm). Its economic success is exactly why it has become such an epidemic.
Across the world, human trafficking has spread, allowing for a flow of currency to proceed through each country, giving them a connection they may not have otherwise had. As it is an economic trade market, human trafficking relies on supply and demand. While the buying and selling of people is outrageous and immoral, the market for it only grows. As demand grows, supply must grow as well, meaning more and more people are being forced into the system.
Not even tightening border laws could be enough to stop the crisis; not with it already being unlawful and that doing nothing to phase the traffickers. The borders are already used so much for trading that the trade of humans is much simpler than it should be. It is believed that globalization (the process of foreign countries becoming more interconnected through businesses or organizations) is a huge benefactor to human trafficking (Encinas 2018), allowing for international trade and exponential economic growth to be more easily accessed. It has come to such a point that no shortage of devastation would befall the world, economically, if the human trafficking market were to be abolished. The circulation of currency around the world that human trafficking has created, has made it difficult to get rid of it without having devastating effects. It would be similar if the drug market was abolished completely, leaving no room for resurrection with the vast amounts of money that have been put into it.
Even with the incredible (and unfortunate) economic success and output of currency that human trafficking possesses, it is outlandish to say that it should continue to grow. During the era of slaves, slave trade worked similarly. The buying and selling of slaves allowed for a booming economy, at the expense of unpaid hostages. It is unfair to say that this is not what is happening now. The U.S. Department of State refers to “modern slave” as an umbrella term for human trafficking victims. While it is still hushed and pushed away from legality, the growth of the market is something that needs to be addressed. If not for the fear of the market itself, then for those who have already been coerced and threatened into it.
Department of Homeland Security. “What Is Human Trafficking?” U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 18 Dec. 2020, www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/what-human-trafficking.
Dunken Law Firm. “Does Human Trafficking Help the Economy?” Dunken Law Firm, 11 Mar. 2020, www.thedunkenlawfirm.com/the-economic-impact-of-human-trafficking/.
Encinas, Pamela. “The Correlation Between Globalization and Human Trafficking.” Human Trafficking Center, 28 Mar. 2018, humantraffickingcenter.org/the-correlation-between-globalization-and-human-trafficking/.
Human Rights First. “Human Trafficking by the Numbers.” Human Rights First, 2017, www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/human-trafficking-numbers
Office of Victims of Crime. “Human Trafficking.” www.ncjrs.gov/ovc_archives/ncvrw/2005/pg5l.html.
United States Department of State. “Human Trafficking – United States Department of State.” U.S. Department of State, 3 Feb. 2021, www.state.gov/policy-issues/human-trafficking/.