Human Trafficking – Modern-Day Slavery


Modern-day slavery is one of the outcomes of globalization; it affects millions of people and brings immense revenue to the criminals. This paper explores various kinds of human trafficking, such as workplace exploitation, forced labor of immigrants, child labor and pornography, and sex tourism, explains their specificities and assesses the level of harm they do to their victims.

In this paper, the tendencies in the activity of the criminals are worked out, and the main risk factors are determined. The misconceptions about human trafficking in the USA related to the physical violation, gender, and place, are then examined.

The paper discusses the anti-trafficking measures of international organizations, such as UN (United Nations), UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), and UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). The laws enacted by these organizations are further mentioned.


Changes that happen in the context of globalization lead to the global integration and the blurring of boundaries. However, one of its disturbing byproducts is human trafficking. Millions of people all over the world become the victims of modern-day slavery every year. The governments are currently trying to do their best to increase penalties for those accused of this crime by creating new laws and working with the population.

According to the United Nations Protocol to Protect, Punish and Suppress Trafficking in Persons (Palermo Protocol), trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or other forms of coercion, of fraud, of deception, of the abuses of power or of a position of vulnerability” (Ollus, 2015).

Approximately 800-900 thousand people are sold as modern-day slaves annually, and the average age of the majority of trafficking victims is between 18 and 24 (Elliott, 2015).

Despite the fact that governments and international organizations are currently struggling with modern-day slavery, the only way to combat this crime is to educate the population and to make them aware of the schemes that criminals use to trap their victims.



Workplace Exploitation

Exploitation at work is using the results of another person’s work without any reward or with a reward of a lower value than the value created by the labor of this person during working hours (Aronowitz, 2009). Using the employees’ lack of knowledge, an employer hires them for a considerably low wage. Numerous examples of intimidation, blackmailing, manipulation of subordinates by their employers are mentioned by Aronowitz (2009).

Among the malversations are forcing the laborers to work in especially hard conditions, establishing illegally long working hours, and paying less than a minimum wage. As a rule, workers are not given the whole amount of payment at once.

In some cases, workers eventually do not get the payment, being promised that the transaction would be performed after the implementation of a crop or the completion of the construction process and building commissioning.

For the field workers, the options for housing usually include abandoned farms or barracks. The conditions in housing facilities are unsanitary. The food is unhealthy and usually does not provide enough nutrition. Laborers remain under permanent supervision and control.

Forced Labor of Immigrants

The majority of the victims of trafficking are not the residents of the country, in which they are being sold. Criminals attract them by promising a job with a handsome salary and available housing. Having been brought to the place, victims are restrained by physical force or deception, and criminals confiscate all their possessions and documents.

Having no possibility to come back home, victims work 18+ hour shifts without payment and live in unsanitary conditions. According to Cardais (2009), males may be victims of trafficking as well. Additionally, the situation gets more complicated with males; they are less likely to share their experience since it damages the masculine image (Cardais, 2009).

Most migrant workers are employed in construction and repair works, transport, seasonal works in agriculture, logging, etc. In these fields, as well as in criminal industry (for example, the production and sale of counterfeit goods – clothing, etc.), labor exploitation is widespread.

Child Labor and Pornography

The phenomenon of the last few years is child pornography, which is defined as pornographic materials created with the participation of minors. In many countries, a strict ban is placed on the production, storage, and distribution of such materials. The current laws of the majority of countries provide criminal responsibility for such activities.

According to Kendall and Funk (2012), the possibility of downloading, storing, and watching pornography online caused a boom of child sexual abuse and created an army of pedophiles and sadists. The industry of child pornography is well-developed and vast. The most concerning fact is that children are often unable to report the incident, being they are too young, or too embarrassed, or not being able to realize that harm is being done to them.

The aftermath of that could be unpredictably hazardous: victims of child abuse often suffer from Stockholm syndrome, a paradoxical psychic phenomenon when a victim eventually evolves a positive attitude towards their captor (Kendall & Funk, 2012).

Moreover, every day hundreds of parents lose their children in the street while playing in the sandbox, or coming back from school, or at the mall; the rescue teams rarely help in such situation.

Child trafficking covers almost all the regions of the world. For example, organized crime groups that are functioning in the United States are connected with criminals in such countries as Russia, China, Italia, Africa, South-American states, Japan, etc. Children are taken for labor exploitation (mainly factories, clandestine manufactures), sexual abuse, or for organ transplantations (Jafar, 2009).

In some African countries, children are armed and forced to participate in military conflicts. According to the latest data, the world’s number of child laborers aged from 5 to 14 years is about 250 million, 110 million of which are working in dangerous conditions. It is needless to mention the lack or even absence of education, nutrition, free time, primary health care, and security (Kendall & Funk, 2012).

Sex Tourism

The United Nations’ special foundation of World Tourism Organization determines sex tourism as “trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination” (General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization, 1995).

It is considered that sexual tourism is the primary concurrent of world traveling. A lot of young women from Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe come to Western countries seeking financial prosperity, better life, and freedom, but get engaged in the sex trade. Apart from prostitution, worldwide trafficking victims find themselves in sweatshop labor, domestic service and, finally, in the illicit sex tourism.

Forced to work against their will or working to make ends meet, legal system being ineffective, they have to fulfill all the requirements of their “owners”. According to Bindel (2013), the typical figure of a sex tourist is a middle-aged Western man or woman, currently divorced, who is traveling to Asia, seeking young people and even children as sex partners.

The most popular countries for female sex tourism include Brazil, the Netherlands, Morocco, Costa Rica, and Thailand, while Indonesia is popular for the male one (Bindel, 2013). “The oldest profession in the world” is an inseparable part of Thai culture where hazy laws allow a variety of sexual services; even “ladyboys” are available here for everybody.

Besides, there is a considerable number of men called “restitutes” or “beach boys,” ready to sell their body in exchange for money (Bindel, 2013). They write to their potential clients, chat, and ask for money to rent a room or pay a heavy debt, and no one uses the “sex tourism” term.

“He was all over me, it was a total freedom, and I couldn’t get enough of that handsome body,” says Barbara, one of the UK tourists in Negril (Bindel, 2013). The fact that some sex tourism workers seem happy with their “job” may be surprising. In any case, as long as there is demand, there will be supply.

Other Human Trafficking Forms

There are various forms of modern-day slavery connected with compulsory marriage, the sale or inheritance of wives, and a quite recently arisen form of sexual exploitation related to the notification through mass media about the women, who are ready to marry, the so-called mail-order brides.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports, “illegal organ trade occurs when organs are removed from the body for the purpose of commercial transactions” (Jafar, 2009). Criminal organs trafficking is connected with kidnapping people and taking the victims to special medical centers, where they are killed, and their organs are harvested for the illegal sale.

In the black market of organs, kidney and liver are valued especially highly. “They were inside a refrigerated box, tightly wrapped in blankets,” says vigilante Manuel Mireles about the victims of the Mexican Knights Templar cartel, which was arrested for the kidnapping and murder of minors in 2014 (“Mexico cartel member held in organ theft case,” 2014). The cartel had other sources of revenue such as illegal mining and illegal logging, blackmailing, and drug trafficking.

Analysis of Human Trafficking

Common Myths and Misconceptions about Human Trafficking in the US

There are some commonly held myths related to modern-day slavery. One of the common misconceptions about trafficking in human beings is that it only happens to those, who are impoverished or lives in countries outside the United States.

According to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation Human Trafficking Intelligence Report (2006), “up to two million people are trafficked worldwide every year, with an estimated 15,000 to 18,000 in the United Stated”. Additionally, as well as in 2011, there were nearly 12.3 million global victims of human trafficking, the majority of which were young women, who were trafficked for sexual practices (Martin, 2014).

The second myth says that trafficking is a crime that basically involves some form of movement inside or outside a country. However, trafficking not necessarily involves the transportation of victims.

A more accurate definition of human trafficking, in that case, would be “a compelled service,” where a person’s freedom is depressed using fraud, force, or coercion (Horning et al., 2014), but being transported elsewhere should not be included in the definition.

For instance, the state of Florida has been identified as a center of human trafficking activities, being a region, in which one of the highest numbers of incidents of human trafficking in the country was registered; the residents, as well as people all over the country, have been involved.

Therefore, modern-day slavery occurs both within a home community or home country, which is referred to as internal human trafficking, and across international borders, being commonly known as transnational (Polaris Project, 2009).

According to another misconception, there must be the elements of physical impact, such as being physically harmed or restrained, in a trafficking situation (Polaris Project, 2009). In fact, traffickers are more likely to use psychological methods of recruiting, for example, seducing the victims (Elliott, 2015). Unfortunately, mass media industry adds more misconceptions to the already existing ones.

In popular films, sexual abuse, sexual slavery, and prostitution are presented in a wrong life, making a viewer believe that a victim (most often, a woman) enjoy the abuse and manages to have a normal lifestyle while being engaged in prostitution.

For instance, in the “Pretty Woman” movie prostitutes are performed as resolute and independent women; at the end of the movie, a prostitute receives a marriage proposal from a wealthy client, who is loving and respectful to her. Such a representation makes people distrustful of the victims of sexual slavery.

Why Does It Happen?

First of all, it is a highly profitable industry, which attracts criminals. Modern-day slavery has been identified as an illegal business with the highest speed of development in the world. It was noticed that nowadays the methods of recruiting people are different from the previous ones (Okubo & Shelley, 2011). Instead of brute force, criminals tend to use psychological tricks and manipulations.

Over the last decades, they have frequently been using the Internet, especially social networks, as a means of recruitment. Networks provide access to the vast number of potential victims without geographical boundaries, maintaining anonymity at the same time (Aronowitz, 2009).

Millennials tend to trust strangers, with whom they are acquainted through the Web. Traffickers, who keep hiding under the mask of a typical social network user, for instance, a Facebook one, make propositions related to job, marriage, visiting another country in order to learn the language or study cultural specificities. However, one still may note some cases, when criminals prefer real acquaintance to the virtual one.

Recruiting plenty of people every day in the street or at clubs, saloons, where young ladies usually spend their time drinking alcohol and, therefore, are relaxed and incautious, instigators earn considerable amounts of money. Moreover, according to Elliott (2015), such environmental features as war atrocities, poverty, and unemployment create some of the main reasons for the modern-day slavery.

Being in danger of hunger or homelessness, a person is less likely to make a wise decision. Besides, young girls or women, who run away from home due to different reasons, among which may be complicated relationships with parents or lack of attention, are at a great risk of being targeted by the owners of prostitution business and being exploited.

Anti-trafficking measures

“The stories of human trafficking victims remind us what kind of inhumane treatment we are capable of as human beings. They are living, breathing reminders that the war against slavery remains unfinished,” states the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (McGough, 2013).

There are many cases when traffickers win a victim’s trust by helping to resolve all the issues with documents. They offer their help in paying for a passport, the preparation of a visa, and a ticket. In such cases, they considerably overstate the cost of all services, and the victim feel obliged to pay the debt. It is reported that trafficking victims have rarely experienced violence.

According to Aronowitz (2009), the accent is put on the fact that a criminal would lead them to their own decision to work in the sex industry. A victim is made believe that prostitution or forced labor is their free choice, which will bring them income and save from a miserable life. It complicates both the work with the victims and the prosecution of traffickers but also dictates prevention strategy.

It is obvious that the government and municipal authorities should employ the following measures: educating young people about the nature of trafficking, continuing the disclosure of the features of traffickers’ schemes of deception, and raising people’s awareness.

Historically, the resistance of governments to the trafficking in human beings was rather weak, but now they are beginning to fight human trafficking. Even underdeveloped countries are going ahead (Okubo & Shelley, 2011).

In order to fight against various types of modern-day slavery, the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition (UNESCO) and the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (UN) were proclaimed.

The government and public organizations dealing with the issues of observance of human rights constantly monitor the situation with trafficking in the world. However, their activity is mostly limited to the statement of the facts. The real combat against human trade and the use of forced labor is restrained by the fact that the use of slave labor has become economically viable again.

The trafficking in human beings certainly had and has an extremely harmful influence on the moral life of humanity. On the one hand, it leads to the moral degradation of a victim, destroying the feeling of human dignity and desire to work for the benefit of themselves and society; on the other hand, it has a harsh effect on traffickers. It is known that the suppression of the will of another person is extremely harmful to the mentality of an individual.

The United States Congress enacted the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000 and established the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which cooperates with foreign countries to combat the crime and publishes a Trafficking in Persons Report per annum (U.S. Department of State).

According to Horning and others (2014), the Trafficking in Persons Report assesses each country’s growth in anti-trafficking and puts every state in one of the three tiers, depending on their governments’ work to conform to the minimum standards for the eradication of trafficking as prescribed by the TVPA. Generally, TVPA declares three principal components, usually called “the three P’s”:

  • protection (the TVPA strengthens the US Government’s efforts to protect the victims of trafficking, including the foreign, national, and non-immigrant ones);
  • prosecution (the TVPA authorizes the US Government to increase efforts to prosecute the new sets of crimes related to trafficking, workplace exploitation, and document servitude, which were added to the existing list of crimes related to modern-day slavery and unconscious servitude);
  • prevention (the TVPA introduces measures to support foreign countries in their efforts to combat trafficking through examinations and awareness raising) (Horning et al., 2014).

On July 30, 2010, the General Assembly approved the Global plan of action of the UN on fight against human trafficking by its resolution 64/293, in which they addressed to all the appropriate authorities of the UN with a resolute and urgent appeal to coordinate efforts for the effective combat against trafficking in persons and for the protection of the victims’ human rights. The EU 2011 Directive introduced similar prevention-based solutions, “calling for information campaigns and social and economic initiatives” (Elliot, 2015).

Speaking of child protection, one may note the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) organization, which promotes humanitarian and developmental assistance in securing children from violence, abuse, and exploitation.


In conclusion, it should be stressed that it is essential for governments to support victims and do their best to prevent human trafficking. The primary individual risk factors of being a modern-day slavery victim are age, gender (usually female teenagers, babies, and young adults are at risk), and lack of education. Among the household risk factors, the prevailing one is poverty, along with family instability.

The majority of people believe that human trafficking is a crime, but do not realize that the problem does not exist somewhere far away, and it can happen to themselves. The population of the whole world should stay alert to prevent any attempt of trafficking.

People usually perceive human trafficking as a crime and its sufferers as pitiful and helpless creatures, but potential victims rather often stay unwary and reckless. Instead, they should remain to behave as agents of human rights protection since modern-day slavery is an inhumane way of resolving human problems. Cooperation and education among all the members of society are essential in combating this global epidemic.


Aronowitz, A. (2009). Human trafficking, human misery the global trade in human beings. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

Bindel, J. (2013). Thought it was just men who flew abroad for squalid sexual kicks? Meet the middle-aged, middle-class women who are Britain’s female sex tourists. Daily Mail.

Cardais, A. (2009). Men are victims of trafficking, too. .

Elliott, J. (2015). The role of consent in human trafficking. New York, NY: Routledge.

General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization. (1995). .

Horning, A., Thomas, C., Henninger, A. M., & Marcus, A. (2014). The trafficking in persons report: A game of risk. International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, 38(3), 257-280.

Jafar, T. (2009). Organ trafficking: Global solutions for a global problem. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 54(6), 1145-1157.

Kendall, V., & Funk, T. (2012). Child exploitation and trafficking: Examining the global challenges and U.S. responses. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.

Martin, M.E. (2014). Introduction to human services: Through the eyes of practice settings (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Allyn & Bacon.

McGough, M.Q. (2013). Ending modern-day slavery: using research to inform U.S. anti-human trafficking efforts. NIJ Journal, 1(271), 26-32.

. (2014). Aljazeera.

Okubo, S., & Shelley, L. (2011). Human security, transnational crime and human trafficking Asian and Western perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ollus, N. (2015). The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. Especially Women and Children: a Tool for Criminal Justice Personnel.

Polaris Project. (2009). .

U.S. Department of State. (n.d.). Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (2006). .

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *