What Is Human Trafficking
“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the 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.
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. ”
Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons
What does Human Trafficking Look Like?
Human trafficking stretches across every inch of the globe. It is estimated that there are currently 27 million victims worldwide.
When many think of human trafficking, they envision men and women selling their bodies in Bangkok or Amsterdam or young boys in Africa serving as child soldiers in private militias. These cases are very real and very serious but often overshadow the trafficking that occurs within almost every city and neighborhood.
Men, women and children are trafficked for purposes such as: sexual exploitation, child labor, forced begging, domestic servitude, agricultural and manual labor, industrial work, forced marriage and the harvesting of vital organs.
Both malicious acts and good intentions can pave the way for these kinds of bondage, but a common driving force behind most of these cases is poverty. Poverty causes parents to exchange sons and daughters for money, food or rent. Poverty drives young men and women to seek work in foreign countries that leads to servitude or slavery.
Poverty pushes families to send their children to work in factories for long hours and little pay. Temporary solutions often spiral into damaging situations that cannot be overcome.
Hope for a better life draws people to opportunities that on the surface seem legitimate but in reality are fronts for slavery. Individuals seeking higher education or well paying jobs in big cities or abroad often find their situations becoming dangerous and constricting. Young runaways may find themselves living with new friends or lovers who have harmful intentions. Young girls and boys are pimped for sexual favors by people they thought they could trust.
These are merely a few examples representing millions of exploited persons.
Why Does Human Trafficking Occur?
The causes of human trafficking are many and run deep beneath the surface. The crime, however, can be simplified in the most basic of economic principles: supply and demand.
People are the greatest commodity in the world and are abused to appease the lusts and selfishness of others. Addiction to sex and pornography drive the sex trade.
Demand for low costs and high returns for food and menial things keep hands harvesting coffee beans and cotton for long hours with little wage. Poverty, homelessness, war, migration, disabilities, deception, selfishness, greed, and fear all contribute to why so many individuals are trafficked.
Why Is It So Difficult To Track & Fight
Human trafficking is difficult to monitor and developing practical methods to fight against it is tedious and challenging. Traffickers use bribes, threats and force to keep their criminal activities hidden and those that are discovered often find themselves removed from the penalties of law.
Many governments and law enforcement officials lack the knowledge, skills and legislation needed to investigate and respond to cases of human trafficking. Many do not understand the importance of outlining procedures and punishments for dealing with human trafficking offenders or for detailing the rights of individuals who have already been trafficked.
Once a legal framework has been established for how to deal with perpetrators and victims of trafficking, there must be a system for identifying and reporting incidents and individuals.
If local communities and officials do not educate themselves and actively monitor and report suspicious or harmful activities, then human trafficking will continue to flourish.
Not only is it difficult to identify and trace human trafficking cases, but arresting and prosecuting traffickers is an arduous and dangerous task. Individuals and police officers are threatened with their lives or bribed to keep quiet about the crimes they witness or investigate.
Those involved in criminal activity are often connected to more powerful criminals who oversee and manage multiple trafficking rings. Police who understand the complexities associated with arresting and prosecuting traffickers may take more time in approaching the criminals themselves because arresting a lower-level criminal may inhibit catching the main organizer.
How Does Trafficking Affect Communities?
The presence of human trafficking deteriorates communities. Corruption, lack of trust and disregard for human dignity not only harm the victims, but also the surrounding community.
When human trafficking is present, all aspects of the community are affected. For example, fair wages are often withheld from individuals trapped in unethical food production and apparel companies. This practice damages the livelihood of those working for less than minimum wage under oppressive working conditions. Corrupt businesses profit in overcharging consumers and underpaying workers
Strenuous working conditions affect the health of children and adults alike. Those involved in the sex industry are most susceptible to diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Slaves in the sex trade have no say regarding to whom they provide services or the use of protection, thus communicable diseases are easily spread to both slave and serviced. The men and women purchasing sexual favors may also transmit diseases to unknowing partners.
What Does Human Trafficking Look Like
In the 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, the U.S. State Department categorizes Kenya in the Tier Two Watch List. This ranking reveals that while Kenya is working to combat trafficking, the nation is acting below the Trafficking Victim Protection Act’s minimum standards. Kenya participates in human trafficking as a source, place of transit and destination.
While Kenya sees most forms of trafficking, sexual exploitation and vocational exploitation are most common. Hidden in the slums, however, is the most gruesome and fatal scheme – trafficking of vital organs.
Child soldiers from neighboring countries often find their way through Kenya’s borders. Kenyan men and women are approached by outside agencies to take jobs in the Middle East or Europe only to find that the opportunity does not exist and that they are being forced into servitude or prostitution.
On nearly a weekly basis the national paper highlights cases of women who took work in the Arabian Peninsula returning badly beaten or worse, dead. “Brokers” pose as nanny or restaurant representatives trying to convince Kenyans to leave their country for a better life abroad. Many of these seemingly hope filled opportunities are merely fronts for sexual exploitation and forced labor.
What Progress Is Being Made To Fight
Human Trafficking In Kenya?
The fight against human trafficking is gaining strength every day. International and local organizations are sensitizing the masses while taking action to educate and provide support for victims. New information and statistics are creating a better understanding of the issue and are exposing average citizens to the dangers of trafficking and how to be a part of the solution.
Kenya has taken many steps towards combating human trafficking. In 2010, Kenya signed the Trafficking In Persons Bill (sponsored by Dusty Feet), which outlawed human trafficking in the country, outlined punishments for criminals who are caught trafficking and detailed the rights of victims who have been trafficked.
Since Kenya’s signing of the TIP Bill, some progress has been made by the government to prevent, protect and prosecute, but there is still much left to do. The National Steering Committee to Combat Human Trafficking is bringing organizations together to create district child labor and advisory committees to raise awareness.
Nearly a hundred Kenyan children were rescued in 2011 and are receiving restorative treatment. A national hotline for reporting cases of child abuse and trafficking typically receives 40,000 calls a month; however, the resolutions of these cases are not publicly provided.
Limited assistance is provided to adults, especially Kenyan nationals abroad. 460 victims of domestic servitude were reported for the 2012 TIP Report by the Kenyan embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. These survivors were lucky. They received their travel documents to return home fairly quickly. Many other victims of trafficking abroad lacked such assistance.
Foreigners in Kenya arrested for prostitution did not receive their rightful screening and provisions by the Kenya government based on the 2010 Bill. They were simply sent home without being prosecuted. In 2012 only fifteen cases were initiated and zero convictions were recorded.
Corruption can be traced in many of the nation’s ministries and law enforcement agencies. Lack of education for government officials on what human trafficking is and their responsibilities in responding to it keep Kenyan police officers from acting when faced with trafficking offenders or incidents.
Despite the inefficiencies in the government, hope is stirring in the nation. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights is working diligently to support citizens who have experienced human rights violations, including those of human trafficking. Many non-profit organizations are also combating human trafficking through prevention, protection and restoration.
What Can You Do To Fight Human Trafficking?
While it is a daunting task, combating human trafficking is worthwhile.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons
2012 US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report Guide To The Tiers Pg 42
US State Department Trafficking In Persons Report Page 9-10
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights