Focus on Human Trafficking
Introduction to human trafficking
by Glory Dharmaraj*
The United Nations 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, servitude or the removal of organs.”
Each year 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders. Seventy percent of these are women; 50 percent are children under 18.The U.S. State Department estimates between 18,000-20,000 persons are trafficked into the country every year. Trafficked victims are found in cities as well as rural areas. According to the 2007 State of the World’s Children Report, 1.8 million children are involved in commercial sex work. Most of them are forced into this labor. When children are trafficked into another country and forced into take up services, often girls end up as domestic workers and commercial sex workers. When these children do not know the local language, they are more vulnerable for exploitation. In transnational trafficking, often the perpetrators seize the passports of the victims, the only document or ID the latter have.
Specifically, women are on the move from one place to the other seeking bread and economic security. Today, the number of people who live outside the country of their birth is larger than at any time in history. Among this migrant population, women comprise of almost half of the global migrants. In 2005, 191 million people, 3 percent of the world’s population, were estimated to be international migrants. Nearly 40 percent are moving from one less developed country to another.
In 2000, the Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. This offers protection to victims from deportation after testifying against perpetrators. On June 22, 2007, the United States Senate passed a Concurrent Resolution 40, declaring January 11 as the National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness.
United Methodist Women has helped produce “Lives for Sale,” an advocacy DVD on behalf of the victims of trafficking. This resource by Maryknoll Productions depicts how victims are trafficked into the U.S. for sexual slavery and what you can do about it. The DVD comes with a study guide. Visit www.livesforsale.com.
*Glory Dharmaraj is the director of spiritual formation and mission theology for the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Jun. 25, 2008