The traffic of human beings is one of the most significant crimes against humans that damage fundamental individual rights: deprivation of freedom and security, the impossibility of access to health assistance, education and family relations.
This phenomenon includes conscription, transfer and accommodation of people through duress or using other forms of coercion, kidnapping, deception, intimidation or power abuse for a unique goal: enslaving people.
It’s important to underline the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling. This last one is the business of transferring people illegally through borders without coercion. Usually, people choose to have this trip alone, paying for the journey to escape violence or poverty.
Types of human trafficking
There are different forms of trafficking:
- Trafficking for forced labour.
Labour trafficking is a contemporary way of slavery in which victims are enlisted with fraud and coercion to work against their will in different types of work, such as agricultural, mining, fisheries, construction work or domestic servitude. The most important characteristic is that victims are involved in the legal economy and officially registered companies working in popular ordinary sectors. Nowadays, the International Labor Organization and Walk Free Foundation count 27.6 million people involved in forced labour.
- Trafficking for forced criminal activities
This is a phenomenon that, nowadays, is growing a lot in Europe. Adults and children are trafficked and coerced to carry out illicit such as cannabis cultivation, robbery or begging. Victims sometimes have a little part of their salary and could be strongly punished if they don’t work correctly. Even though the EU Directive has started to avoid this type of exploitation, there are few researches and awareness about it. At the same time, statistics report very few cases, and sometimes victims are misidentified as offenders.
- Trafficking in women for sexual exploitation
It is the most increasing criminal trafficking in the world. The UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) counts 94% of women and young girls involved in this crime. They come from a vulnerable part of society in developed countries, from minority communities with a lack of resources and awareness, which means more risk of becoming victims.
Women are engaged with the expectation of a better life condition in another country. Offenders give them false documents to travel, and when victims arrive at their destination, they find an organized network that forces them into sexual exploitation and gives them worse inhuman living conditions.
- Trafficking for the removal of organs
This form of illegal trafficking usually is less examined because traffickers work in the shadow and, at the same time, there are low rates of law enforcement. In many states, the need for transplants increases year by year, and waiting lists are very long. For this reason, criminals profit from these patients’ and potential donors’ desperation. Victims usually are children or vulnerable people with economic problems that live in extreme poverty. Organized crime groups tent people or force them to sell their organs in exchange for an amount of money, but recipients of organs pay much more than donors receive because the rest of the funds are for the brokers, the surgeon and the hospital directors.
What are the effects of human trafficking on the victims?
Human trafficking can cause many physical, psychological and emotional problems for victims. It’s something that completely changes the lives of those who are involved. First, they can have mental trauma such as post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, fright, guilt and troubles in the relationship. Many of them are exposed to physical trauma, such as abuse and rape by traffickers.
The risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases is very high, as the contraction of other illnesses and infections. Victims are also isolated from their family and their affection because they feel guilty and ashamed or because they are far from their country. Individuals who escape from the situation and return home might be excluded from society because of the stigma that others attribute to them. This solitude can contribute to being trafficked again and coming back in a condition of abused life.
How to prevent and stop this crime?
Almost two months after the World Day against Trafficking in Persons (30 July 2022), we are here to remember and underline the importance of this topic.
Nowadays European Commission presents a new strategy to fight against this crime focused on crime prevention, punish with law traffickers and protecting victims by helping them to emancipate themselves.
It is not only something that has to affect the institutions but all of us because this happens on every continent and in almost every country. No one can say to be untouched by this outrage at human life and human rights.
That’s why, the first step to preventing and prosecuting human trafficking is to raise awareness, identify the violation’s complexity and improve education about the problem.