Human Trafficking/Anti

Human Trafficking/Anti-Slavery Movement
Alicia Messner
What is human trafficking?
The United Nations defines human trafficking as:
“the recruitment, transportation, transfer,
harboring or receipt of persons, by means of
the threat or use of force or other forms of
coercion, or abduction, of fraud, of
deception, of the abuse of power or of a
position of vulnerability or of the giving or
receiving of payments of benefits to achieve
the consent of a person having control over
another person, for the purpose of sexual
exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a
minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution
of others or other forms of sexual
exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery
or practices similar to slavery, servitude or
the removal of organs” (2009).
Human trafficking is the third largest criminal
industry in the world generating $9.5 billion
annually (Zhang, 2007)
Human trafficking was first made legal in 1502. Trafficking continued until the
1800’s when abolitionists demanded the end of slave trade (in the U.S. in
1808). However, slave trade continued in countries, but was now banned from
inter-country slave trade. Alongside slave trade, prostitution arose because
traders created a demand for prostitutes, which in turn led to sex trafficking.
State involvement with human trafficking ended after WWI. Illicit trade began
to avoid taxes and regulations. (Okubo,2011)
A great leap to end human trafficking occurred in 2000. The Trafficking Victims
Protection Act was passed. This states that human trafficking as defined by
the United Nations is not legal and that countries should take action to stop
the occurrence of it. However, there are some countries that will not comply.
One example would be Saudi Arabia. l
There are three areas of focus when combatting human trafficking. These
focus points are, prevention (raising awareness, education, outreach, and
advocacy), protecting and assisting victims (provide health and psychological
services as well as shelters, legal and vocational services), investigating and
prosecuting human trafficking crimes (training of law enforcement officials).
In the past ten years various U.S. government agencies have provided $447
million to combat human trafficking. There are many agencies, government
organizations, and non-governmental organizations that work to prevent and
stop human trafficking locally, nationally, and globally.
There are many things that contribute to human trafficking.
Some of these factors are poverty, corruption, low
education, (Okubo, 2011) globalization and demand (Zhang
The most significant factor is corruption. Without corrupt
government officials this industry would no longer have the
easy access to necessary documents and transportation
What is being address in the social justice/human rights
movement that is taking place today? “Human trafficking is
a multi-dimensional threat, depriving people of their human
rights and freedoms, risking global health, promoting social
breakdown, inhibiting development by depriving countries
of their human capital and helping fuel the growth of
organized crime” (2009).
Sex trafficking accounts for 39% of trafficking
• Saving face is important in Southeast Asian cultures. Collectivism is
another key aspect of this culture. The focus is on family and the
community overall rather than the individual. Much of the trafficking that
takes place is due to “helping” the family as a whole by bringing income to
the family. For example, family may sell their daughter to provide for the
rest of the family.
Position in society is based on achievement and ascription. Family matters. It is very important to present
ones family in a positive way and bring respect to ones family. Societal roles and expectations are often
based on what family one belongs to as well. Education is important in this culture as well.
Southeast Asian culture is very much a hierarchical society. Family is expected to take care of each other
and it is important to respect ones family. Public displays of affection are not appropriate to this culture.
However, it is not uncommon to see people of the same sex holding hands.
Buddhism is prevalent and the primary religion in Southeast Asian culture. Buddhism has created a society of
people striving to do good so that good things may return to them in the future.
Time is more monochromic for Southeast Asian cultures than U.S. culture. In the U.S. timeliness is very
important, but for Southeast Asian culture schedules are more flexible .
“Utilitarian prejudice may help a certain social group maintain
power” (Hall, 2005, 218) this is why people are often
trafficking from outside their region or country. Social status
prejudice allows traffickers to boost their standing in the
community as they disregard those they traffic and consider
them to be less than themselves (Hall, 2005, 218).
Seattle is taking action to stop trafficking and to stop prejudice
of these victims, often times the women are viewed as
criminals rather than the victims they are.
“Racist and sexist stereotypes of women are used in the sex
industry to market the women. Men come to expect
stereotypical behavior from the women they buy in
prostitution. Also, buying women from different races and
nationalities gives men the illusion of experiencing the
‘different’ or ‘exotic’” (Raymond, 2001, 41).
Some will say that these women “chose” to be in the place
they are at. In reality none of these women want to be in this
place in their life .
Exodus Cry has three main initiatives: Prayer, awareness and action. To raise
awareness there are conferences to attend and documentary screenings of
Nefarious: Merchant of Souls which includes interviews of various people in the
sex industry globally. There are ten action steps suggested. These action steps
are prayer, compassion, purity, spread the word, volunteer, watch, reach, speak
up, adopt a child, invest.
It seems that our society is avoiding the problem of human
trafficking. Although awareness has been raised in recent years
there is still avoidance occurring and action is not being taken in all
areas (Hall, 2005, 230).
Another example is priority conflicts. Some people have higher
value placed on them and it is apparent that the people being
trafficked are not of high priority to our society (Hall, 238).
“Utilitarian prejudice may help a certain social group maintain
power” (Hall, 2005, 218) this is why people are often trafficking from
outside their region or country. Social status prejudice allows
traffickers to boost their standing in the community as they
disregard those they traffic and consider them to be less than
themselves (Hall, 2005, 218).
I learned actively through reviewing previous readings as well as researching scholarly sources on my own that
focused on my topic. I improved my understanding of another culture (southeast Asian culture) as well as
deepening my understanding of interactions between cultures and stereotypes that may arise. I now have greater
expertise in the area of human trafficking and Southeast Asian culture and the worldviews of this culture.
I was able to think critically through evaluating the research I found. I read many interviews, studies, and statistics
from many perspectives. Then, I compiled the information that I found to be most accurate and focused on primary
sources and personal testimony of both traffickers and women that were trafficked. While researching Southeast
Asian culture I recognize many beliefs, values, and worldviews that were discussed in our class readings. Current
human trafficking is related to slave trade throughout history and it is apparent that history is having an effect on
the current happenings of trafficking today. I also noticed that the dehumanization of those being trafficked is very
similar to what took place with slave trade in history as well. I reflected both on in class readings and history to
compile my research. In my research my personal awareness was raised as well.
I communicated clearly by narrowing my research to focus on main points and reliable sources. I then presented
my research in a way that allowed others to learn about my topic in an accessibly way. The information I presented
was straightforward. The information and research was prepared in a way that was logically sequential.
Interacting in diverse and complex environments was important to my project as well. I tried to be open when
researching while maintaining a scholastically critical perspective. I took in information without bias, but tried to
recognize the biases of the writers/researchers presenting the information I found. I tried to present my information
in a way that accurately portrayed my topic and the current problem, as well as actions being taken to implement
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Hall, B.J. (2005) Among Cultures. Wadsworth Cengage Learning,. (2) .
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Okubo, S., Shelley, L. (2011). Human Security, Transnational Crime and Human Trafficking. Asian and Western Perspectives. Retrieved from Ebook Library.
Raymond, J.G., Hughes, D.M. (2001). Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States. Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.
Seattle Government (2011) How is SPD Fighting Teen Sex Trafficking? (Video) Available at
Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet. Department of Health and Human Services. National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Retrieved from
United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law. (2010) In our own backyard: child prostitution and sex
trafficking in the United States: hearing before the Subcommittee on Human Rights and Law of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, On
Hundred Eleventh Congress, second session. Washington U.S.G.P.O. Retrieved from
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