What is Human Trafficking?

Okay guys,

so you might find this post alittle boring. Outdated, maybe. I know you all can hit google, maybe you are even an author on wikipedia and know how to handle stuff there. Or you might even be someone who has followed the issue for years. None the less, it is important to me to clear up what Human Trafficking really means before I dig deeper into this blog. It not only explains the issue, but it also explains why I am doing this to a great extend.

So here we are, I am spending my lunchtime to post an explanation of one of the biggest issues we have nowadays. One lunch hour only, is all it takes. 11 minutes or less, all it takes for you to read it. Not much, if you think about it…

Human Trafficking.

According to the US Administration for Children and Families, Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor; a modern-day form of slavery; and the fastest growing criminal industry in the world and is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest, after the drug-trade. With 32billion US$ profit, which is more than Nike, Google and Starbucks combined, it is the second largest criminal industry in this world. It is a tie with the illegal dealing with arms. Moreover, Human Trafficking is the fastest growing illegal industry. Who knows?, maybe, if we don’t do something against it, it will kick drug dealing of it’s throne.

The United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:

  1. Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age, OR
  2. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Of course, that sounds like a lot of big words and terms and categorizing. So what you should take away from this is: Trafficking does not only mean people being smuggled out of their countries to perform services of whatever matter to a customer; and its not solely about the image of a pimp many might have in mind. Trafficking in the end comes down to modern day slavery, where peopl are held hostage by someone or a group of people in oder to gain those a profit.
Yes, the Act does move away a bit from the literal meaning of trafficking, which means to rob someone from one place and to bring it to another, to there work. Automatically, it mixes in prostitution of minors and includes slaves that are held in any place, may it be there hometown, or a country at the othe end of the world. But then again, rather include those into the illegal actions then leave them out, right?

Let’s look at Brazil for example. It is a huge state, with huge farms and many workers. Most of those farmers, actually one should call them agricultural entrepreneurs, concord with all rules and legislations and do there best. I work with a lot of them, and I am proud to speak about the effort most of them bring up, in order to not only provide the world with proven standards in terms of food and environmental safety and sustainability, but also to provide their seasonal workers with the best standards. I have eaten in cafeterias on farms in Mato Grosso which were better than what I have been served in some restaurants… but there is always black sheep. If the workers dont have huts with real walls, matrasses to sleep on, water near by, etc. it falls under “slavery” and should be abolished. Even more so, if those people are thratend in case they talk. I am happy to say I have not worked with any farm like that, but they exist. Brazil even has a public listing, “black list”, of farms that are under the suspicion of holding “slaves”. [LINK to follow]

Or lets take a look at sex trafficking. The stereotype image thatcomes to mind, is young asian girls and rich pimps. But it is so much closer, so much more real than that. Just take a look at the recent news about child prostitution in Portland, Oregon: http://huff.to/aYyf9b
Can you imagine, that a mother sends her daughter in to prostitution? To have he sell her teenage years to truck drivers, so the family can pay its bills? It exists, I have seen it. And that also falls under the terms slavery, and under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

A common misconception is that trafficking only occurs in poor countries, but thats just looking at one side of the medal. Every country in the world is involved in the underground, lucrative system, be it as source, tansit or destination of the trafficked person.
A “source country” is a country from which people are trafficked. Usually, these countries are destitute and may have been further weakened by war, corruption, natural disasters or climate. After the earthquake destroyed Haiti’s Port-Au-Prince for example, Red Cross and other NGOs warned endeeringly, that all those children that lost their parent or guardian in the devastating shaking of the earth, are now in another severe danger: Children could get robbed and sold, trafficked in other countries to be child soldiers, work in prostitution, illicit adoption and more. (For more info about child trafficking, check out the wikipedia article: http://bit.ly/cWAqkw )
Let’s get back though,to the fact that all types of countries are involved… A “transit country”, like Mexico or Israel, is a temporary stop on trafficked victims’ journey to the country where they will be enslaved. A “destination country” is where trafficked persons end up. These countries are generally affluent, since they must have citizens with enough disposable income to “buy” the traffickers’ “products”. Japan, India, much of Western Europe, and the United States are all destination countries. So basically, where ever you are: Your country is also part of the problem.

I mean, think about it… we, or at least most of us who have access to internet and read blogs like this one, live in a world that seems happy and mostly safe in terms of robbed people, human beings stolen from their lives to live in slavery. Yet, it is happening. Everywhere.

There are many organizations out there, that help to raise awareness and som that take action. However, for the first post, I want to introduce you to UN.Gift, the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
It’s mission is, to mobilize state and non-state actors to eradicate human trafficking by reducing both the vulnerability of potential victims and the demand for exploitation in all its forms; ensuring adequate protection and support to those who fall victim; and supporting the efficient prosecution of the criminals involved, while respecting the fundamental human rights of all persons.
UN.Gift is based on an international agreement and the simple, and obvious, fact, that trafficking is a problem across borders and thus cannot be dealt with by each country on its own.

If you want to know more about UN.Gift, you can visit them on www.ungift.org There you also find a lot of downloads that will help you to look deeper into the matter and to understand what is being done.
You can also support them on their facebook page. Check it out, it’s worth it.

Human Trafficking is a crime and needs to be fought. Slavery, of any kind, is not an optio. Never. Never ever.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Why am I here?

Okay, here we go…

I live in Brazil, and I travel a lot. Really a lot. Recently, UN.Gift (UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking) has launched a campaign to help fight trafficking, which touched me so deeply, so emotionally, and so shockingly, that I decided to do whatever I can do to help and support the fight against Human Trafficking.

This is my first real blog (apart from a couple of travel stories for friends), and I have no clue yet. But I hope that soon you will find a lot of links, info and more here, that will show you what you can do. Something that will open your eyes, about trafficking that happens even in our wonderful, pretty world out there.

Human Trafficking is closer than you think. Certainly closer to all our lives, than the standard stereotype of a young, asian prostitute from a poor countrie’s poorest region. It is happening everywhere. And we gotta make sure it stops.

Let’s put an end to modern day slavery.