Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable and is commonly described as modern-day slavery. Human trafficking encompasses the buying and selling of people whether it is for forced labor or commercial sex. The crime robs the victims of their most basic rights and occurs at a global level. Human trafficking is a complex issue with a diverse range of victims and circumstances. Some of the possible solutions to the problem include, expanding and harmonizing laws that address human trafficking at both national and international levels, investing in structural changes that address the causes of trafficking and addressing the entire human trafficking channels including labor laws, the demand and profit margins. The most effective solution is structural changes that address the causes since they are a bottom-up approach that focuses on empowering the potential victims.
Human trafficking and modern-day slavery inflict great human suffering. While obtaining accurate data on this underground crime is challenging, it is estimated tens of millions of people across the globe are subjected to this abuse (Choi et al. 2). Statisticians estimate global profits associated with the crime at more than 150 billion dollars (United Nations 3). The profits indicate human trafficking is one of the most lucrative criminal activities rivaled only by drugs and firearms traffic. Undeniably, human trafficking is one of the most pressing and complex human rights issues of the 21st century. Human trafficking extends beyond the violation of the victims’ rights into other diverse areas including but not limited to transnational crime, international humanitarian laws, domestic and international labor paradigms and migration among others. Statistics indicate more than 800,000 individuals are trafficked across international borders on an annual basis (Choi et al. 2). Indeed, while the problem is prevalent in third world economies, thousands of children and adults in the USA are trafficked into forced labor. Some projections suggest as many as 300,000 US children and youth are at risk of being trafficked (Baker 6). Unfortunately, the problem is not going away. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline received four times as many calls in 2013 than it did in 2008 (Baker 7). However, the outcry to combat this degradation of human lives extends beyond numbers. Undeniably, each story of suffering and exploitation is a human rights tragedy that violates what humanity represents.
One solution to human trafficking is expanding the laws that address this human right issue. It encompasses focusing on policy discrepancies at both national and international capacity. The premise for advocating for more legal restrictions on human trafficking is grounded on the assumption that human and sex trafficking is a criminal justice problem and as such should be solved by passing extensive criminal laws against trafficking (Chuang 3). In the USA, the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) facilitated the creation of a new federal crime which provided resources to the prosecuting officers in addition to mandating assistance to the victims willing to testify against their offenders (Choi et al. 3). Additionally, the 2000 Act advocated for programs intended to increase public awareness about trafficking and the laws and rights associated with the crime. Indeed, the subsequent expansion of the act over the past two decades in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013 has emphasized the criminal justice approach to human and sex trafficking. The emphasis in legal repercussion has extended beyond the USA to various countries across the globe. As a world superpower, the USA has influenced several other countries to adopt the criminal justice solution to human trafficking. However, the mere expansion and harmonization of laws within and between countries are not sufficient in addressing human and sex trafficking. As mentioned, in the past two decades, the USA has made several revisions to the 2000 TVPA. However, human trafficking has only grown more prevalent within this period (Chuang 612). The criminal justice approach is too narrow since it focuses on addressing human trafficking after it has already occurred. Focusing on punishing the offenders envisions the deterring process as grounded in harsher legal consequences for the offenders. However, many organizations involved in human trafficking are highly sophisticated and continue to escape the authorities as they expand their profit margins. Moreover, the fact that the USA influences the techniques adopted by other countries illustrate imposition of a top-down universal solution to diverse countries across the globe a strategy that fails to recognize the actual conditions and practices associated with human trafficking (Baker 12). Indeed, the fact that the extensive expansions of laws in the past two decades at both national and international levels have not eradicated the practice pinpoints the necessitate of a broader solution that expands beyond prosecuting individuals involved in human and sex trafficking activities.
Another solution to addressing human trafficking is effectively monitoring and cutting all the networks associated with human trafficking. It entails monitoring and taking measures to reduce the demand and the profit margins associated with human trafficking. The demand for trafficked women and forced labor must be reduced. Reducing demand can be done through education and prevention and the political will to terminate work and sexual exploitation (Shelley 12). Labor demand in developed countries such as the USA will remain an acute problem as long as the birth rates remain long. One specific way that the demand for trafficked humans can be addressed is through focusing on the labor policies in different countries.
In many cases, traffickers lure ignorant individuals with promises of high salaries and fake job offers. Therefore, it is necessary for every country to emphasize greater transparency in addition to taking actions in regulating foreign labor recruiters. Undeniably, without policies that facilitate transparent and legitimate recruitment, the problem of human trafficking will continue despite the efforts of many developed countries in securing their borders (Shelley 13). Another solution to cutting the human trafficking networks is through decreasing the profits associated with this particular criminal activity. As mentioned, human trafficking is one of the most lucrative illegal activities. Currently, few steps are being taken to either follow the profits of exploitation or deprive the traffickers of those profits. The high demand with matching profit there is little disincentive even with the risk of legal actions. While cutting the networks associated with human trafficking through reducing demand and profit margins is viable, many of the human trafficking activities occur in the black market where legal actions and consequences are largely ignored. The main reason human trafficking continues to grow rampant is because of technological advancements of the 21st century that not only support but encourages the secrecy and illegality of human trafficking (Parrenas et al 1016). Therefore, it is unlikely that the government can effectively impact the networks.
However, the best solution to addressing human trafficking is a multifaceted structural approach that focuses on the root causes of trafficking. To effectively end human trafficking, it is necessary to resolve the causes of trafficking (Baker 13). It entails an in-depth analysis of the economic, social and political conditions that make individuals vulnerable to human trafficking. These conditions include but are not limited to poverty, global wealth inequality, lack of citizenship, war, racial discrimination and conventional gender ideologies that facilitate the devaluing the female gender. The basic approach to ending human trafficking will encompass several changes particularly in public policies that focus on equal economic opportunities, relaxation on restrictive immigration laws and advocating for racial and gender equality among others (Baker 13). Statistics indicate that almost eighty percent of the entire human and sex trafficking victims are female (Choi et al. 3). The data pinpoints to the importance of empowering women and working actively to eradicate traditional ideologies that devalue women. The fight for gender equality is therefore essential in addressing human trafficking.
Moreover, research asserts that human trafficking is particularly rampant in developing economies which are characterized by a high level of poverty (Andrijasevic and Mai 7). Due to extensive global wealth inequality, many people in developing countries are vulnerable to human trafficking. To address this transnational issue, it is crucial for governments and non-governmental organizations to work hand in hand to promote equal distribution of wealth on a global scale. Another core cause of human trafficking is restrictive migration policies which often force victims to turn to extreme options such as human trafficking to enter into another country. While the USA is conscious in managing immigration, it is necessary for policymakers to work to achieve a balance that takes into account the enormity of the human rights issue that is human trafficking (Cho 7). The structural approach to human trafficking through addressing the causes of the activity will be more effective since it focuses on empowering the oppressed rather than rescuing the victims and prosecuting the offenders (Baker 13). Moreover, addressing the causes of human trafficking is a bottom-up approach that recognizes different groups have diverse experiences when it comes to human and sex trafficking. Indeed, structural changes to public policies at national and international levels identify the multiples forms of human trafficking and as such advocates for multiple solutions while focusing on address the economic, social and political issues in different parts of the globe.
In conclusion, the enslavement of another human being is a practice that is deplored by the very values we hold dear as humanity. The degradation and abuse associated with human trafficking make even the most cynical cringe with disgust. Addressing human trafficking requires structural solutions that focus on the causes of human trafficking rather than concentrating on cutting the networks or adopting severe criminal justice reforms. Indeed, a bottom-up solution is more effective since it focuses on empowering potential victims. Unlike the top-down approach associated with aggressive legal repercussions and middle approach that involves reducing demand and profit margins of the traffickers, the structural tactic recognizes the multiple forms of human trafficking and advocates for multifaceted solutions.
Andrijasevic, Rutvica and Nicola Mai. “Trafficking (in) Representations: Understanding the Recurring Appeal of Victimhood and Slavery in Neoliberal Times.” Trafficking Representations, 2016, pp. 1-23.
Baker, Carrie N. “An Examination of some Central Debates on Sex Trafficking in Research and Public Policy in the United States.” Study of Women and Gender. Faculty Publications, 2015, pp. 1-35.
Cho, Sou-Young. “Liberal coercion? Prostitution, Human Trafficking, and Policy.” Joint Discussion Paper Series in Economics, 2013. pp. 1-35.
Choi, Joon Y, et al. “Human trafficking literature in the past decade: A review of the literature.” The Society for Social Work and Research, 2014.
Chuang, Janie A. “Exploitation Creep and the unmaking of human trafficking law.” American Journal of International Law vol.108, no.4, 2014, pp. 609-649.
Parrenas, Rhacel Salazar, Maria Cecilia Hwang, and Ruth Heather Lee. “What is Human Trafficking?” Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 2012, pp. 1015-1029.
Shelley, Louise. “Human Smuggling and Trafficking into Europe: A Comparative Perspective.” Trans-Atlantic Council on Migration, 2014, pp. 1-28.
United Nations. “Providing Effective Remedies for Victims of Trafficking in Persons.” Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), 2016, pp. 1-40.