Global Human Trafficking and Slavery Issues

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  • 0:03 Human Trafficking &…
  • 1:27 Role of Women in Trafficking
  • 2:02 Global Response to…
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Jason Nowaczyk
The following lesson addresses the combination of forced labor and global migration, which has led to the modern issues of human trafficking and slavery. A short quiz will follow the lesson to check your understanding.

Human Trafficking & Contemporary Slavery Defined

It's a sad fact that many developed countries at some point in their history have forced less dominant groups of people to do work for them. In fact, in the United States, slavery was a defining issue that led to our own Civil War and has had a lasting effect on our society to this day. Today, however, it's probably incomprehensible to most that slavery still exists in the world, let alone in the United States!

The forced movement of people within or between countries is known as human trafficking. More specifically, when people are forcibly moved under false pretenses and then forced into labor or prostitution, this is known as contemporary slavery. It is impossible to know exactly how many people are trafficked worldwide, but the CIA estimates that 20,000 people are trafficked in the United States alone.

The reason for human trafficking's continued existence is strongly related to the increasing levels of economic and cultural globalization. Global inequality and demographic factors in many countries contribute to the rapid growth of labor migration, a development in which most countries participate. Migrants are employed to do the most strenuous and undesirable jobs in most countries because it is often the only way they can earn a wage. This is because most victims of trafficking and contemporary slavery come from poverty stricken areas and are looking for ways to support themselves and their families.

Role of Women in Trafficking

Another factor that makes human trafficking increasingly prevalent is the feminization of migration, or the increasing percentage of women in the migrant population. In many areas, women and girls are generally perceived to be replaceable commodities by human traffickers. Thus, many criminal organizations collaborate to maximize their profits by trading women like property. Certain areas of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are known for viewing women in this manner. Most women who are trafficked are then forced into prostitution.

Global Response to Human Trafficking

The global response to human trafficking has largely been ineffective. Several efforts to address this problem have been made at both national and global levels. In 1989, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that called for tough measures to eradicate human trafficking. The Fourth World Conference on Women declared that women's rights are human rights and adopted a platform that called on governments to dismantle criminal networks engaged in trafficking women.

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