The Kids Aren’t Alright: Human and Child Trafficking

trafficking photo

A serious debate is needed across the world in order to put an end to human and child trafficking. It was not until I watched the French film ‘Taken’ that I started to comprehend how appalling and large scale this issue is, especially for young people. The film gave a visual and realistic insight into the industry of trafficking and after watching the film I realised that this is an issue that really is not talked about a great deal in the public sphere. “Trafficking in people is now considered the third most profitable activity for organized crime. In the United States, there are more and more cases of individuals being held against their will either for labor or for sex”.[1] Who would have known?

This is a major global problem and yet there is still limited discourse amongst the political elites wanting to put an end to this savagery. In my research I have found that trafficking affects millions of people around the world with their lives being categorically ruined as product of this heinous industry. Conventional thinking would assume that trafficking just involves some form of sexual exploitation but in many cases the victims are trafficked for the purposes of domestic servitude, begging and hard labour.

The exploiting of humans is now considered a highly lucrative business for international criminal organisations. These criminal groups have the opportunity to make millions of dollars a year making it a sizeable criminal business that preys on some of the worlds most marginalized and vulnerable people. Women and girls represent the greatest share of total forced labour – 11.4 million victims (55%), as compared to 9.5 million (45%) men and boys[2]. This shows to me that human trafficking is not only reinforcing gender inequality but also maintaining the exploitation of the female sex. Women already in my opinion live in a male dominated society and these figures simply reinforce that.

It is very worrying when I read stories about countries treating this as a non-issue and just brushing it under the carpet as if nothing is happening. Recently I read an article about trafficking in Guyana where government ministers where just addressing the issue as common place. It is very disconcerting to think that major political figures in a globalised nation such as Guyana are taking such a relaxed ‘laissez faire’ attitude to such a serious problem. How will we ever make progress when ignorance is simply bliss?

The International Labour Organisation found that internationally there are around 2.4 million victims of human trafficking at any given moment.[3] This problem clearly affects most nations around the world. A local movement is thus not enough to stop this industry but rather a global movement is needed to take place in order to halt this practice once and for all. For me once we educate ourselves about the problems we then need to look for quick and effective solutions. So the question then is what is being done and what can we do to alter this problem?

The United Nations convention in 2000 set up a legal instrument that deals with transnational crime and punishes trafficking in persons, especially children and women. This protocol is a useful tool in the fight against trafficking and creating cooperation amongst countries in their struggle with these crimes.  Many countries across a national level have integrated these principles and also looked to formulate similar anti-trafficking legislation into domestic law. But there is still a lot more that needs to be done.

Even ordinary people on the street have opportunities to support this cause. Being as involved in your local community as possible and raising awareness about issues of human trafficking is an important place to start. It is also important to make sure that your consumer choices are ethical. It should be a priority of everybody in society to avoid goods that have been manufactured through some form of forced labour. Even small things like this could create some influence.

I am in no doubt that this battle against trafficking is perhaps only just beginning, but with enough support and discourse we can unite as a global community, right some wrongs and change this world for the better.

[1] . McCabe Kimberly, The Trafficking of Persons: National and International Responses, Peter Lang, Pg.113, 2008

[2] . International Labour Organization, Global Estimate of Forced Labour 2012: Results and Methodology <Internet Link>,—ed_norm/—declaration/documents/publication/wcms_182004.pdf

[3] . Ibid


About School of Politics and International Relations

This blog has been set up for the students of PO665, Advanced Topics in Politics and International Relations: Global Gender Justice, which is a course for final year Honours students in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. As part of their participation in the course, students submit blog posts that examine issues pertaining to gender justice within the family, the community, the state and global society. We aim to explore the extent to which gender inequality within the state has an impact on state behaviour, with a specific focus on state development and state security, and further aim to analyse the effectiveness and limits of international organisations, international human rights instruments, NGOs and activists to bring about greater gender justice.
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