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16 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking

Kelley has great interest in many social issues, including crime, law enforcement, social media and politics.

Women (perhaps prostitutes) on the streets of Mumbai, India

Women (perhaps prostitutes) on the streets of Mumbai, India

"Human Trafficking," a photo used with the permission of Henry Garciga

"Human Trafficking," a photo used with the permission of Henry Garciga


Planet of Shame: People Selling People

People have been exploiting each other for thousands of years. Seemingly, when they weren’t slaughtering each other in wars, they were selling people into slavery (perhaps one would be the result of the other). Now in modern times matters haven’t improved much if at all, because throughout the world de facto forms of slavery can be found, as well as many other ways humans force their depravity or quest for riches upon each other. Let’s hope education, law enforcement and activism help abolish this terrifying human failing or at least greatly reduce its scope.

Please read 16 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking:

1. According to the article titled “Human Trafficking” in Wikipedia, human trafficking is the largest growing criminal activity in the world. Only the drug trade makes more money and, perhaps, causes more misery. Also, human trafficking usually involves women and children. The International Labor Organization estimates that perhaps $150 billion in US dollars is generated per year in human trafficking. Moreover, human trafficking doesn’t include “human smuggling,” which involves people voluntarily paying others to smuggle them from one location to another.

2. According to the State Department of the United States, as many as 820,000 men, women and children are trafficked in the world every year. Eighty per cent are women and girls and up to 50 per cent are minors.

3. Human traffickers also abduct men, who are then forced to perform labor, usually of the unskilled variety, such as working in sweatshops, and may even include begging. In Thailand’s fishing industry, men are often abducted and forced to work on fishing boats for years at a time, or until they can escape or die. According to the International Labor Organization, this sort of trafficking generates more than $30 billion (USD) annually.

4. Sex trafficking is a major aspect of this nefarious "business." Traffickers entice the weak and/or the unwary and then coerce them into prostitution, dancing in strip clubs, performing in X-rated films or showing themselves in pornographic publications. In places, a kind of "sex tourism" has sprung from these abominable practices. Perhaps the worst of this trade is a sexual servitude from which escape is nearly impossible.

5. In parts of Africa, particularly Ghana, in order to settle an offense, a virgin female member of the offending family may be forced to serve as a sex slave. And this is done without the woman receiving the title of “wife.” In Ghana, Togo and Benin, women are made to act as shrine sex slaves, a kind of ritual servitude. (Please keep in mind that parts of Africa are suffering an AIDS epidemic.) Also, in the Eastern European country of Moldova, as much as 10 per cent of the female population has been sold into prostitution!

6. The definition for the trafficking of women for sexual purposes can be different in every country. In general, it involves the physical coercion of women for the purpose of prostitution, even though the actual movement of the women in question may not have taken place. For example, anybody in the United States under the age of 18 who is involved in the commercial sex trade qualifies as a trafficking victim.

7. Per an online article entitled “Human Trafficking Survivor: I was raped 43,200 times” on the website, dated November 10, 2015, Karla Jacinto told a journalist that over a period of about four years she was raped by as many as 30 men per day, seven days a week. Jacinto said while living in Tenancingo, Mexico, where sex trafficking is some of the worst in the world, a man identifying himself as a used car salesman, befriended her for a few months, until he told her she had to perform sex acts for money. At the time, Jacinto was only 12 years old. Then the salesman sent her to Guadalajara, after which four years of hell ensued. Now 23, Jacinto is an advocate against human trafficking, telling everyone who wants to know her horrific personal account.

8. Child trafficking takes many forms. Children may be forced to work under dangerous working conditions. Or their labor may be exchanged for temporary or permanent bondage; or they may be forced into military service, prostitution, pornography, the illegal drug trade or illicit international adoption. Often parents sell their children to traffickers to relieve debt, in order to survive, or because they think their children will be given a better life.

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Thailand and Brazil may have the worst records regarding the trafficking of children for the sex trade. Be that as it may, every year thousands of children from Asia, Africa and South America are sold into the international sex industry. Tragically, in the poorest parts of Mexico, such as the state of Chiapas, traffickers sell children for as little as $100 to $200 per child. Human rights groups say Chiapas is one of the worst parts of the world for child prostitution.

9. A common misconception is that poor countries primarily take part in the trafficking of human beings. Actually most of the destination countries for human trafficking are in relatively affluent countries such as the United States, Japan, India, Thailand, Turkey and Western European countries such as Italy and Germany. In the U.S, much has been done to try to stop human trafficking, including the passage of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Bill of 2007.

10. Perhaps the worst kind of trafficking is for the purpose of stealing peoples’ organs. After all, once your organs are gone - so are you! This monstrous activity is not just an urban legend. According to the Web site Human and Organ Trafficking organ brokers arrange with wealthy clients for the transplant of organs for between $100,000 and $200,000 per organ. (This mostly illegal business, except in Iran, has spawned an activity known as "organ tourism.") But the man or woman giving up a kidney will only make about $1,000!

11. According to the Web site, the best defense against human trafficking is education, though educating poor and illiterate people will be always be difficult. Imposing stiff penalties for people caught in this illicit and dastardly trade is also important. In this regard, Thailand is the first country in Southeast Asia to enforce greater penalties for the customers of human trafficking rather than the sellers, particularly involving minors coerced into the commercial sex trade.

12. Human trafficking for obtaining de facto slave labor happens even in rich countries such as the United States. Per the PBS program Frontline entitled “Trafficked in America,” dated 4/24/18, teenagers from Guatemala have been smuggled into states such as Ohio and Iowa and sent to corporate chicken farms where they must work for many hours per day, under appalling conditions, until they pay off their debt, which appears an impossible task. Fortunately, the US government has been informed about such illegal practices and seems ready to enforce policies designed to prevent labor trafficking.

13. Would legalizing prostitution be one way to fight sex trafficking? While working in the North Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force, Detective Bill Woolf, after interviewing over 300 victims of human trafficking, has come to the conclusion that prostitution should be legalized across the US. Woolf thinks prostitutes should be able to get help from the police without worrying about arrest or prosecution for committing a crime, a situation which could work in favor of human traffickers, because, after all, they never want victims going to the police.

14. According to an article on entitled “Human Traffickers Use Social Media Over-sharing to Gain Victims’ Trust,” dated 3/18/2020, people who use social media such as Facebook to complain about their problems in posts and comments may be contacted by human traffickers. Per the Internet Crime Complaint Center, fake job listings are used to lure labor trafficking victims, "who are bought, sold, and smuggled like modern-day slaves." Moreover, in the article, the FBI stated: “Human trafficking victims are beaten, starved, deceived, and forced into sex work or agricultural, domestic, restaurant, or factory jobs with little or no pay.” In short, it seems people should never appear vulnerable on social media or any other place on the internet—if you want to avoid being trafficked!

15. Per an article on entitled “Help Stop Human Trafficking in West Bengal,” human trafficking in West Bengal, India, comprised 44 per cent of India’s total in 2016. The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime stated that out of 19,000 women and children that went missing in West Bengal in 2011, only 6,000 were traced. Many women go to placement agencies hoping to get legal jobs but end up being sold into sexual slavery. West Bengal, unlike many other provinces in India, has no law regulating placement agencies.

16. Reported in the October 2020 issue of National Geographic, in an article entitled “Stolen Lives,” it’s estimated that 50,000 girls—some of them children—are trafficked from Bangladesh to West Bengal, India, every year. Relationships between a boy and a girl may begin with romance, in which a boy promises to marry a girl—or actually marries her—and then takes her to a brothel and sells her into sexual slavery for 70,000 rupees or about 650 American dollars. Shockingly, in a country where the domestic sex trade is legal, a woman working in a brothel may be forced to have sex with as many as 20 men per day!


Just about every part of the world except Antarctica is plagued by human trafficking. However, the poorest regions of the world, particularly those in South America, Africa and East Asia seem to produce the most victims of this heinous crime. Nevertheless, something can be done about human trafficking. The strategy requires plenty of education and outrage, but compassion is perhaps the greatest weapon of all. Of course, getting involved in the fight would make a big difference as well.

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2010 Kelley Marks

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