The United Nations estimates that there are approximately 12 million people living in slavery today; the non-governmental organization Free the Slaves pegs the number at 27 million (Tran, 2007, p.22). Indeed, it seems difficult to associate the shiny new world of the 21st century with an ancient crime that objectifies and commercializes human beings.
Many contend, however, that the present success of human trafficking may be the bitter fruit of globalization. With global capitalism, goods flow from one end of the world to another. Some countries find new markets and expand. Others see their local industries drowned by foreign goods. The inequality of the market renders entire countries vulnerable to slavery and trafficking. Jonathan Tran (2007) describes it as a dangerous combination: desperation and profiteering (p.22). In these highly commercialized times, anything and anyone can be a commodity. There is a price for everything, as long as someone willingly sells (or is forcibly sold) and someone has the means to pay. .
This study shall look into the realities of human trafficking. It is a travesty that so little attention is given and so little knowledge is accumulated on this particularly heinous crime. As such, this paper shall attempt to provide a significant discussion of human trafficking. What exactly is this crime, and how is it carried out? Who are the so-called countries of "origin, transport and destination"? What happens to the victims of human trafficking? How is it related to the changes in global commercialism? These are some of the important questions that must be answered in order to fully grasp the extent of human trafficking as a crime against life and human dignity.
Human Trafficking - A Definition.
The United Nations defines human trafficking as "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.