TRAFFICING OF HUMANS by Carell Wingrave & Janneke Lewis
At the 10th United Nations Congress in 2000 on crime prevention and criminal justice, the Congress body adopted a new definition of trafficking of persons to mean the recruitment, transportation and transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of a threat or use of force or other forms of coercion for the purpose of exploiting them. This should be taken together with the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child which was ratified by 192 countries.
Sexual exploitation has dominated discussions on human trafficking, but there are many other forms of exploitation that may include forced labour, removal of organs and body parts, begging, forced marriage, illicit adoption, and exploitation into the army and armed conflicts.
In Canada, victims of trafficking come from all walks of life but the common point is that they are vulnerable. This may be for financial or emotional reasons or a combination thereof. For example the angst of teenage life in otherwise stable teenagers, instability in the home, drug use and abuse in the home make teenagers (children) vulnerable to pimps and the reason many Canadian children end up being trafficked. There are four stages in recruitment : 1. Entrapment; 2. Creating dependence; 3. Taking control and 4. Total dominance. Once the person/child is in the sex industry or one of the other forms of slavery it is difficult or next to impossible for them to get out.
The root of trafficking for the purposes of prostitution and sexual exploitation is demand. The users, usually men, have a choice whether or not to use the services of a prostitute. At the 10th United Nations Congress one UK official summed up child trafficking as the endless supply of children, the endless supply of traffickers and the endless supply of customers and clients. This could be said to include an endless supply of persons vulnerable to being trafficked. In short, it is all about commerce, the law of supply and demand. It is all about money.
The scope of human trafficking is vast and what is covered here barely touches the subject. Technology, the lack of cohesion between governments and intergovernmental agencies, law makers and law enforcers, reluctance by the public to acknowledge a problem and overall secrecy work in favour of the traffickers. Society needs to be proactive. There needs to be increased awareness of all aspects of trafficking with law enforcement and inter-agency co-operation, increased awareness among the prosecutorial and judiciary levels and a better understanding of the grey areas between human trafficking and illegal migration, forced labour, paedophilia, child exploitation, civil conflicts and coerced prostitution. Progress in one area can have a profound impact on the others.
The topic cannot be sugar-coated for it is indeed, horrific. It is hoped that this short overview will make readers aware there is a problem and choose some aspect of the issue to address. All of us can be a part of the solution by doing our part to raise awareness and help protect our society.
Some things we can do:
• Engage men in the fight against sexual
exploitation of women and children
• Address poverty among women by supporting agencies and NGO s who work in this area
• Lobby governments for better and more
appropriate legislation that tar
gets the users for criminality rather than the victims
• Monitor how women are used in advertisements,
movies, songs etc. and speak out against exploitive
• Employ good practises in our own businesses to
ensure there is no trafficking in our supply chain
• Stay informed on the issue and talk about it
• Monitor and join in the lobbying of banks, ISPs
and credit card companies asking that they aintain practises that do not allow traffickers the use of
• Reduce the vulnerability of your own children and
those in your neighbourhood
• Sign petitions that seek to change the laws to
afford greater protection for victims
• Know what is going on in your own backyard
• Report suspicions
• Join together with friends and neighbours to
brainstorm your own unique actions to combat human trafficking.
The Hindu God, Shivji, was looking down to earth with his wife. They saw an elephant walking and as he was doing so, he was killing ants. Shivji, you must punish the elephant for killing the ants. It’s not the elephant’s fault – he doesn’t know what he is doing. Well, then it’s the rider’s fault. No it is not – he doesn’t know what he is doing. Well then, punish the ants for committing suicide. No, said Shivji. It’s not their fault. But there is one person I can punish and this is you because you see what is happening and you aren’t doing anything about it.
A few of the many books that expose human trafficking include The Natashas and The Johns by Canadian investigative reporter, Victor Malarek; The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs; To Catch a Predator: Protecting Your Kids From Online Enemies Already in Your Home by Chris Hansen.
For statistics on human trafficking, for further information and to find organizations that need your support the following is a list of some helpful websites:
This article is a compilation of material supplied by Janneke Lewis, BA, LLB. Janneke is one of six Soroptimist representatives at UN sponsored international meetings and conferences on Human Trafficking and the Soroptimist International of Western Canada expert on human trafficking.
Submitted by Carell Wingrave,
Immediate Past President of
Soroptimist International of Edmonton