Human Trafficking

 Human trafficking: Modern day slavery in the 21st century

Canadian Foreign Policy Journal

Volume 12, Issue 3  2006, Pages 125 – 132
By Shadan Kapri


Human trafficking is a global human rights issue that has profound and tragic repercussions for millions of women and children every year. In North America, Canada is currently a destination for victims of trafficking, and a transit route into the United States. Traffickers have exploited the open border between the United States and Canada to perpetuate a modern form of slavery that forces oppressed women and children into forced labour and/or prostitution. Currently, Canada has no formal policy or program to provide protection, assistance, and services to victims. A multidimensional approach to combating human trafficking is necessary in Canada, with legislation that provides protection to victims escaping the web of trafficking.
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Illinois Passes New Human Trafficking Laws
By Shadan Kapri
Illinois joined a record number of states around the nation that have passed new laws to fight modern-day slavery. According to the Polaris Project, a leading anti-human trafficking organization in Washington, D.C., 28 states passed legislation to protect victims in the past year alone.  On August 4th, Illinois was added to that coveted list.

Uptown residents welcome the change.  “It makes sense to pass more laws considering Chicago’s location,” said Arthur Milner, an attorney and resident of Uptown. “The fact that Chicago is a port city and hub for immigrants makes human trafficking even more of an issue that needs to be addressed.”

Daria Mueller, associate director of policy for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, agreed that human trafficking is an increasing problem in Chicago.  She worked with a team to draft the new legislation passed by Governor Quinn.  A coalition of advocates and policymakers “came together to brainstorm how to change the current state laws to provide more protection for victims,” Mueller said.

The result was an amendment to the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, Predator Accountability Act and Juvenile Court Act of 1987.  The new law expands the definition of “serious harm” to include other forms of coercion, including psychological intimidation or withholding a passport.

“Traffickers may never need to use physical harm to maintain control, but instead may use other types of threats to control their victims,” according to End Demand’s website, a leading organization in fighting human trafficking in Chicago.  The law also broadens the term “sex offense” to include involuntary servitude and other crimes including the production of pornography, according to End Demand.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reported that Illinois has the fifth highest number of calls to its hotline.  “This shows there is a real problem in this state that needs to be fully addressed,” Mueller said. The new law, House Bill 5278, was sponsored by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).  “The goal of this new law is simple: to give prosecutors a bigger arsenal in the war on those who profit from another human being’s suffering,” Rep. Cassidy said in a statement released by Quinn’s office.

Since 2001, the Illinois legislature has passed multiple pieces of legislation to create more social services and resources for victims of modern-day slavery, according to Mueller.  Illinois still lags behind other states such as Washington to protect victims of trafficking, according to the Polaris Project’s 2012 State Ratings Map.

Polaris Project rated all 50 states including the District of Columbia based on their laws to fight human trafficking.  Wyoming has yet to pass any legislation.  It received the lowest rating of all the states.  Approximately 75 percent of the victims are women, and up to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year, according to the Freedom Center.  “These people need all the help we can give them,” Milner said.  “It’s encouraging that laws are being passed in Illinois and around the nation.  It’s about time.”

     Thousands of girls are taken out of school in developing countries.  *This happens over 25,000 times every day.*  Their future becomes uncertain, and this creates a rippling effect for generations to come. Some of these girls become victims of trafficking and are sold into slavery.  Others are married off to older men.  Thousands become pregnant in a year.   They have no real education or job and become trapped in a cycle of poverty that impacts their children and grandchildren.
     Without an education, a daughter, in many developing countries, is nothing more than a burden for her family.  She can be exposed to physical and psychological abuse.  The cycle continues again and again.  Girls in developing countries are too often underfed, overlooked, and undereducated.  This can lead to serious and tragic human right violations every day.
     The video below shows all of us why investing in girls should be our greatest priority.  When we care about and save girls, we change the world.  One daughter at a time.

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

     The United States with the assistance of the international community observed Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January 2012 to raise awareness, advocacy, and enforcement of human trafficking laws.

The U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking reports that modern day slavery impacts “every continent and every type of economy.”  From the shoes and clothes that consumers purchase to the food that people consume, human trafficking impacts millions of lives.  Each dollar spent buying these products promotes human trafficking and keeps women, children, and men enslaved in forced labor around the world.

The U.N. Global Initiative reports that more than 50% of slavery victims are found in Asia.   The State Department contends that in Asia the victims of human trafficking are triple than in other continents.  This increase in human trafficking and the products that are developed and shipped from Asia has alarmed advocates around the world.  The rate of human trafficking has increased each year, and the economic recession has not decreased the number of slaves worldwide.  On the contrary, human trafficking has been continuously inclining as the need for cheap labor has skyrocketed.

Human Trafficking is estimated to generate $32 billion U.S. Dollars each year.

A Coalition of Anti-Human Trafficking Organizations have urged President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to make fighting human trafficking a top priority for the government.

The purpose of Human Trafficking Awareness Month internationally has been to highlight the struggles to fight modern day slavery and the need for greater enforcement of laws in the United States and around the world.

The Billion Dollar Industry of Human Trafficking

     Every year the United Nations predicts that up to four million women and children are victims of human trafficking worldwide. This modern day form of slavery not only exists but is flourishing in most parts of the world today. It’s estimated that more slaves exist now then ever in the history of mankind.[1]
     The global revenue for this underground activity is approximately 32 billion U.S. dollars yearly.[2]  At this rate of growth, in five years human trafficking is predicted to surpass drug trafficking in global revenue as the most lucrative underground activity.[3]
     Most victims of trafficking are exploited for purposes of prostitution and/or forced labor in sweat shop factories. Some of these sweat shops cater to American Retail giants (see link below). Trafficking also increasingly takes place in labor exploitation, such as work in domestic servitude, or migrant agricultural work.
     Traffickers use force, fraud, coercion to compel women, children, and sometimes men to engage in these inhumane practices. The average victim is re-sold several times to different traffickers.Yet, human trafficking is not only a international issue but a legal, development, and social issue as well. Poverty and systematic oppression are root causes of this globally rising human rights violation.
     Patterns of instability, armed conflict worldwide, and systematic discrimination against women and children have all perpetuated this international problem along with a lack of public awareness both globally and domestically.The lack of documented birth registration in certain third world countries has also made children increasingly vulnerable to the exploitation of traffickers. In some cases, parents are systematically deceived into believing that their children will have better lives in developed countries with the opportunity for an education.
     All of these children come from extreme poverty and have little opportunity for an education. Their background makes them even more susceptible to the deception of traffickers.The majority of these children never return home and die within five to seven years from daily physical abuse, sexual abuse, malnutrition, and torture. By the time family members realize the deception of the traffickers, their loved ones have disappeared and the families are helpless in their search to find them. The illusion of a better life turns into the greatest tragedy

Legal Mechanisms to Combat Human Trafficking in the United States

In 2000, the United States government passed a ground-breaking piece of legislation to combat human trafficking both domestically and internationally. The United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 was the first comprehensive piece of national legislation aimed to increase public awareness nationally and globally, provide funds to help combat the problem around the world while also increasing the punishment and law enforcement capabilities in the United States to deal with this issue.

Under this law, victims became eligible for a broad range of benefits and services regardless of immigration status. While in custody, victims would have access to shelter, medical assistance, legal aid, and translation services to inform them of their rights.

Victims also became eligible for the Witness Protection Program in the U.S. while grants were created to fund non-governmental organizations helping victims of trafficking around the world. An increase in sentencing traffickers up to twenty years was also passed as well as mandatory restitution and asset forfeiture to pay back individuals that traffickers have victimized. This anti-trafficking law also authorized almost $300 million dollars over a two year period for international and national programs to combat human trafficking in 2000 and 2001 alone.

Sadly, this piece of legislation is rare in the international community. The lack of awareness and legal protection has allowed traffickers to proliferate in many areas of the world that have the greatest poverty and political unrest.

For more information and how you can become involved in the fight against human trafficking visit and

[1-3] Center for Global Development, Women and War Event, June 22, 2004, Washington, D.C.; Kevin Bales, Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, University of California Press, 2004.

[4] United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

[5] United Nations Children’s Fund, Trafficking in Human Beings Report, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2003.

[6] Gilbert King, Woman, Child for Sale: The New Slave Trade of the 21st Century,Chamberland Bros. Publishing, 2004.

The State of the World’s Children

     Each year, the United Nations Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF) has a flagship publication titled “The State of the World’s Children.” This publication closely examines key issues impacting women and children globally. The State of the World’s Children 2007 shows that in the long run, empowering women will improve the lives of millions of children around the world and enhance the goal to reach all of the other Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
     “Empowering women saves children’s lives – and the impact is too important to ignore.” states, Rachel Bonham-Carter of UNICEF. As one example, she cites to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute, which concludes there would be 13.4 million fewer undernourished children in South Asia if men and women there had equal influence in decision-making.Every year over half a million women die in childbirth or because of pregnancy related causes. This is roughly one woman every minute. Decreasing maternal mortality is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals.
     When these women die, their existing childrens’ lives are forever changed. Many of these deaths are preventable yet the data concerning the exact number of deaths and the lack of access to health care put millions more women at risk for the same fate.Research shows that a woman with a primary education is less likely to die during childbirth. The mortality rate for children under five years of age falls about 50% for mothers with a primary school education.
     Yet, one out of every five girls who begins a primary school education in the developing world does not complete it. An average of less than 50% of young girls in the developing world attend secondary school. This not only impacts the age for when they give birth but also decreases their bargaining power within their household.This decrease of bargaining power can result in child marriages and premature parenthood. Girls under the age of 15 are five times more likely to die during childbirth then women in their twenties, according to UNICEF. And the levels of domestic violence rise dramatically for child brides.The “State of the Worlds Children” suggests seven key interventions for gender equality:

1. Abolish school fees and invest in girls’ education
2. Invest government funding in gender equality
3. Enact legislation to create a level playing field for women, and to prevent and respond to
domestic violence as well as gender-based violence in conflict
4. Ensure women’s participation in politics
5. Involve women’s grassroots organizations early on in policy development
6. Engage men and boys so the importance of gender equality can be understood by all
7. Improve research and data on gender issues, which are critical if progress is to be made

Millennium Development Goal 3 focuses on promoting gender equality around the world. If this goal is achieved, UNICEF believes its benefits will expand in many other areas from hunger reduction, reducing maternal and child mortality to global health and environmental sustainability.

For more information visit

UNICEF – For Every Child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection
Advance Humanity.

Every year the United Nations predicts that up to four million new women and children become victims of human trafficking worldwide.  Experts predict that 27 million people live in slave like conditions today.  This modern day form of slavery not only exists but is flourishing in many sections of the world today.   This global epidemic occurs in every country including the United States.

The U.S. State Department estimates that every year over 14,500 women and children are trafficked into the U.S. for illegal purposes that violate their basic human rights.

According to Human Rights Watch “women are typically recruited with promises of good jobs in other countries or provinces, and, lacking better options at home, agree to migrate.”

After reaching their new country or area, they learn of the deception and the “work” they will actually be forced to do. Most have been lied to regarding the conditions of their employment and the actual financial arrangements. They find themselves in abusive situations where they are forced into an underground world of illegal activity where escape is difficult and death is too often the only way out.

The State Department has even warned that children as young as six have been trafficked for illegal purposes and forced into prostitution in Thailand and other Asian countries. These children come from extreme poverty and their parents are deceived into believing that their children will have a better life abroad with the opportunity for a higher education. The hope for a better life turns into the greatest tragedy.

Yet, one of the major factors that has perpetuated this modern day form of slavery is its underground nature. Traffickers have been able to deceive millions and circumvent national and international laws through their underground activity. Campaigns have been started around the world to increase awareness of this global issue and help transition victims of trafficking back into society.

If you would like to learn more or help go to

     UNICEF estimates that hundreds of millions of children worldwide suffer from severe exploitation and discrimination. Millions of children disappear when trafficked within their own country and across international boundaries to work under inhumane conditions. Not only do these children endure daily abuse but they are excluded from healthcare, school, and other essential services needed for growth and survival. They become a generation of Invisible Children.
     The world’s most vulnerable and invisible children grow up beyond the reach of a formal identity, parental care, and fundamental services and protection. They are invisible in areas from public debate, legislation, statistics, and news stories.
     Every year over 50 million children in the developing world go unregistered. These children do not have a formal identity. Without proper registration and identity, these children are not guaranteed basic services such as a formal education, and healthcare, and are not even recognized as citizens in their own countries.Other children around the world, such as street children, are in plain site but also do not have access to fundamental services and protections. Children who are denied fundamental services are more prone to exploitation, abuse, and trafficking.
     As UNICEF explains:”Governments, families and communities must do more to prevent abuse and exploitation from happening in the first place and to protect children who fall victim to abuse. Laws that hold perpetrators of crimes against children accountable must be implemented and vigorously enforced; attitudes, traditions and practices that are harmful to children must be challenged; and children themselves must get the help, information, and life skills they need…”  The more governments and people work to make these invisible children visible in both the national and international community, the greater the chance that a new generation of invisible children will escape the harsh destines of their predecessors. It’s time to open our eyes to a generation of children that have been lost and forgotten.

For more information go to

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