Over the past decade, “trafficking in persons” or “human trafficking” for commercial sexual exploitation has been one of the fastest growing areas of international organized criminal activity. In simplest terms, human trafficking is “a cruel, ruthless, and cynical form of human exploitation, a serious crime, and a gross violation of human dignity.” In legal terms, it is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of 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 consent of a person having control over an-other person for the purpose of exploitation.”
Even though the terms “human trafficking” and “human smuggling” are at times used interchangeably, the critical factor that distinguishes trafficking from smuggling is the use of force, coercion and/or deception in order to exploit the victims. In other words, while human smuggling refers only to the illegal transport of a person across international borders for benefit or profit and does not necessarily entail exploitation, human trafficking entails sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, or practices similar to slavery.
Each year, hundred thousands, even millions of persons are trafficked and used as commodities. According to the United States Department of State, 700,000 to 2 million people, of whom 35% are under the age of 18, are trafficked each year. According to the United Nations (UN) estimates of 2008, about 2.5 million people from 127 countries have been trafficked to 137 countries in that particular year for purposes such as forced labor, sexual exploitation, the removal of organs, and forced marriages. In addition, 2009 estimates of Amnesty International indicate that 4 million people are trafficked or smuggled across borders annually. In addition to international trafficking, internal trafficking—trafficking that does not cross national borders—claims an estimated additional four to twenty-seven million persons to that figures. These worrying numbers indeed reveal a human tragedy of massive proportions.
By Arda Bilgen on 25/3/2012