Human Trafficking Awareness
Liliya Veleva ‘12, spent her first semester as a freshman raising awareness about human trafficking. She hosted a movie screening in order to get others students interested in the topic and then hosted a panel discussion about human trafficking and transnational migration.
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is modern day slavery. According to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking (UN GIFT), "trafficking in persons" means
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.
Trafficking involves moving a person by force and coercing him/her to utilization of their services “with the intention of inducting them into trade for commercial gains. The word 'forcible' signifies that the action is against the person's will or that consensus has been obtained by making deceptive claims and false allurements.” Sometimes, victims give their consent because they do not even realize that they are being exploited due to their social conditioning.
Sexual and other abuse of victims of human trafficking
Mostly Eastern Europe and Asia, but the business is running in developed counties such as USA, Canada, England, Japan, and Germany.
- Women are deceived by being offered job with low qualifications high salaries (Eastern Europe)
- Children are recruited during conflict situations
- Men and women who are forced to give their organs (black Human market)
- Kidnapped children, teenagers and women
- Third most profitable illegal activity after the trade of illegal drugs and weapons
- Easy – when a woman’s will is broken she becomes a money making machine because of the nature of rape; replaceable; popular service everywhere
- Victims may never recover and be able to have a normal life
- HIV and AIDS
Who can be the Traficant?
- An employment company
- A friend
- A future spouse
It is important to break the cycle – people with little knowledge become victims of criminals, and people who use their services perpetuate the cycle of injustices started by the perpetrators.
On Wednesday, December 3, 2008 Liliya Veleva, a Levermore Global Scholar at Adelphi University, led a panel discussion on human trafficking and transnational migration. The panel lasted from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and focused on the multiple areas of the problem presented by human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a violation of human rights,” according to Safe Horizon, “It is the illegal trade in human beings through abduction or recruitment, by means of force, fraud, coercion or ‘sale’ for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, or debt bondage.”
Each panelist was given the opportunity to explain the roots of the human trafficking problem and offer possible solutions as it relates to their own area of specialty. Speakers came from a wide range of backgrounds and included Jennifer Dreher, Senior Director of the Anti-Trafficking Program at Safe Horizon; Michael Raggi, Adjunct Professor and retired Special Agent for the US Department of Defense; Thomas Mulligan, Immigration Judge and Philip Baverstock, Human rights adviser with the Delegation of the European Commission to the United Nations who were both present in personal, not official, capacity; and Dr. Stephanie Lake, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Adelphi University.
It is estimated that 700,000 to 2 million people are being trafficked globally each year. Despite these enormous figures, it is common for trafficking victims to live and work among us without causing any suspicion or alarm.
“(Trafficking is) an extremely hidden crime; anywhere a person can work, trafficking can exist,” Dreher explained. About 14,000 to 17,000 of these people are brought into the US alone. “Its incredible how hidden this problem is,” Mulligan added.
Most of the victims are aware that they are in a dangerous situation, but few are aware of their actual rights and the infringements upon them.
“You don’t have to be a citizen to be protected by the constitution; the word ‘citizen’ is no where in the constitution.” said Lake.
Deportation is the worst form of threat to these victims; therefore they fear the law and usually do not seek help from any higher authority. This silence results in a large number of people remaining under the control of traffickers. According to Dreher, though the Anti-Trafficking unit of Safe Horizon has been in operation since 2001, only 350 survivors of trafficking have been admitted.
Most of this trafficking is not for sexual exploitation or prostitution, as is generally thought. In fact, over 60 percent of the clients admitted to Safe Horizon were trafficked for labor purposes.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was established in 2000. Raggi explained that this act makes trafficking a U.S. federal crime. The act takes measures to prevent it and increases prosecution of traffickers and protection of victims in the United States.
When discussing implementation of laws and protections for trafficking victims, Baverstock said that just passing this act may not be enough. “The necessary laws are not in place or are not being properly enforced,” said Baverstock.
The incentive that drives these traffickers is always the same: money. Human beings are the third most lucrative trafficked commodity, after drugs and arms. Up to $32 billion is made as profit per year for human traffickers. Human trafficking generates more money in a year than the revenue of Google, Nike, and one other large corporation combined.
“Anywhere there’s money, there’s an incentive to traffic,” Mulligan said, “If you want to get to the heart of the issue, you have to follow the money.”
This path oftentimes leads across countries and even continents. This is where cooperation is lacking the most. Raggi commented that one of the most frustrating things when dealing with international investigations, as a law enforcer, is when certain countries would not allow you inside; there the trail is lost and you are at a dead end.
There is an immense need for greater international cooperation and adoption of “a knowledge base approach,” according to Baverstock. “If society is going to fight this, (they’ll need) anything that spreads awareness or knowledge,” offered Mulligan.
Written by Michelle Consorte ‘12