Human trafficking crime is present in almost all countries of the world. The crime is linked with transcontinental unlawful organizations, homegrown gangs, and desecration of labor and immigration laws as well as bribery in governments (Belser, 2005). The US Department of State projects that about six to eight hundred thousand to women and children are handled across borders once a year. In the US alone, an estimated 14, 000 to 17, 000 people are trafficked across US borders yearly of which 80% of these are women and girls while 50% are children below 18 years (Belser, 2005). The statistics demonstrate that the crime of human trafficking is a global menace that needs a new approach to address it. The paper focuses on the history and currents trends in human trafficking and the effects on the victims of human handling.
Though the crime of human trafficking is described as a new phenomenon, the crime is very old. The UN defines human trafficking as any crime that encompasses any form of recruiting, transporting, transferring and receiving a person through the use of force, abduction, fraud or deception (United Nations, 2009). Women and children are enticed into the crime by the promise of an opportunity for a better life for them and their families. Human traffickers are located abroad and in their countries where they have easy access to the vulnerable category of persons. They employee cunning techniques to convince desperate persons of a better life abroad before selling and transferring them to foreign nations where they end up being misused.
History of Human Trafficking
Several studies exist to show how human trafficking began. In the colonial times, African slaves were captured and then shipped to American slave-buyers who had a ready market for them. The African slave trade was the first form of human trafficking, which has grown in the modern society with new techniques and methods of practicing the crime (D’Agostino, 1999). The persons captured were taken to work as domestic workers, as home guards while others worked in the agricultural farms. Although some of the masters were kind, most of them were cruel and ruthless to the slaves. Most of them slaves suffered physical assault, rape, forced child labor, and even death.
The tremendous growth in traditional slave trade experienced immediate growth in the 16th century when European acquired new slave workers from Africa, Asia, and America. The massive enslavement resulted in the growth of sugarcane, rice and tobacco plantations. According to D’Agostino (1999), the slaves were overwhelmed by work in the fields and new workers had to be imported from Africa. The new entrants were desperate for work and offered a cheap source of labor. Towards the end of 19th century, abolishment of slave trade began to take shape, and US presidents were pushing to outlaw the trade in the United States.
In the modern society, human trafficking has become an international menace. It is now a modern form of captivity which replicates the characteristics of the traditional form of human transferring. The women and children are sourced from the poverty-stricken developing countries that have a ready source of cheap labor (Zimmerman, 2007). Asian and African countries present a ready market for human trafficking. Women and children sourced from these countries end up being used for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Once they have been lured into the system, the persons lose control of their lives, and this allows the traffickers to assault physically and psychologically them. By the time they get to their masters, they have completely lost control of their lives, and they have no freedom at their master’s house.
Effects of Human Trafficking. Victims of human handling are exposed to a lot of risks and conditions that are likely to affect their mental, physical and emotional health.
The victims are subjected to physical torture, which may comprise causing bodily harm and sexual assault. The victims are subjected to sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, urinary tract infections, and HIV/Aids. Sex trafficking victims suffer physical abuse and torture, unwanted pregnancies and forced abortions (Zimmerman, 2007). Also, they are affected by occupational health hazards such as skin infections, physical injuries and respiratory infections due to unsafe working conditions.
Trafficked women and children may also suffer psychological trauma due to the changes in sleep patterns, debilitated immune systems, and amplified abuse of alcohol and food deprivation. The victims respond to the psychological trauma through shock and fear, feelings of betrayal, disorientation, nightmares and flashbacks, suicidal thoughts and attempts at suicide. A study by Phinney showed that sex-traded females were less unwavering and secluded, had developed levels of anxiety and more psychological needs than other sufferers of crime (2001).
The problem of human trafficking among women and children has become significant, and it is a rising delinquent in the US as well as the global community. As a result, women and children have been subjected to physical and mental torture and even death. There is a need to design new laws that will safeguard the rights and freedom of women and children. The law should also be punitive to those involved in the trafficking of persons. Also, health professionals should be at the forefront in assisting human trafficking victims and helping them in accessing legal and social services.
Belser, P. (2005). Forced Labour and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits. Geneva: International Labour Office.
D’Agostino, J. (1999). The new illegal immigrants: Sex slaves. Human Events, 55(24), 4.
Phinney, A. (2001). trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation in the Americas. Washington : Inter American Commission of Women.
United Nation. (2009). Modern forms of slavery. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/events/slaveryremembranceday/2009/slavery.shtml
Zimmerman, C. (2007). Health risks and consequences of trafficked women in Europe: Conceptual models, qualitative and quantitative findings. London: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.