Written by Maricarmen Robles
Edited by Alexandra Bravo Schroth
Trafficking in persons, also known as human trafficking and modern slavery, is one of the world’s most shameful crimes. It affects millions of people around the world. It consists of traffickers that exploit and profit at the expense of adults or children (U.S. Department of State, 2021). Forced labor and sex trafficking are the two most significant forms of trafficking in persons. The first refers to activities in which a person draws upon force, fraud, or coercion to obtain another person’s labor; the second refers to forcing another person to participate in a commercial sex act.
This blamable crime continuously exists nowadays because it represents an illegal but powerful form to generate income. According to the Trafficking in Persons Report of 2021, it is a widespread and highly profitable crime that produces an estimated $150 billion worldwide per year. Moreover, a significant portion of those profits passes through legitimate financial services businesses (U.S. Department of State, 2021).
Human trafficking significantly affects females and children because traffickers target their victims in groups considered more vulnerable than others. In 2018, for every ten victims detected globally, about five were adult women, and two were girls. Children victims of human trafficking come from impoverished households, dysfunctional families, or abandonment. The forms of child exploitation are associated with the country’s incomes; in low-income countries, children are mainly trafficked for forced labor (46 percent). In high-income countries, children are primarily trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced criminality, or begging (UNODC, 2020).
The United Nations established July 30th as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons as a potent reminder that such reprehensible crime as human trafficking still exists. But also, to raises awareness that the only way to defeat is by the collective work of governments, civil society, financial institutions, educational institutions, non-profitable organizations, law enforcement agencies, and survivors.
This year the United Nations puts victims of human trafficking at the center of the campaign and highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. Survivors have to be portrayed as key actors in the fight against human trafficking because their invaluable contributions can help establish effective measures to prevent this crime, identify and rescue victims and support them on their road to rehabilitation (United Nations, 2021).
One way to advocate is by joining the Blue Heart Campaign, an initiative run by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime that seeks to inspire people to help stop the horrors of trafficking and support the individuals and societies affected by it. The blue color of the heart represents the sadness of victims who have been trafficked and the cold-heartedness of the people who buy and sell human beings (Beulah London, n.d.).
Beulah London. (n.d.). WHAT IS THE UN BLUE HEART CAMPAIGN? UN Blue Heart Campaign. https://www.beulahlondon.com/blogs/ethics-craft/un-blue-heart-campaign.
United Nations. (2021). World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/observances/end-human-trafficking-day.
United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (2021). Global Report On Trafficking In Persons 2020. United Nations publication (E.20.IV.3) https://www.unodc.org/unodc/data-and-analysis/glotip.html
U.S. Department of State. (2021, March 2). Understanding Human Trafficking – United States Department of State. U.S. Department of State. https://www.state.gov/what-is-trafficking-in-persons/.
U.S. Department of State. (2021, July 8). 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State. U.S. Department of State. https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-trafficking-in-persons-report/.