Why the definition of Human Trafficking matters

Posted by Huibert Fousert on

Human trafficking is akin to modern day slavery or having basic human rights and freedoms stripped away. So why would it be necessary to create a definition of human trafficking past this understanding? In order for traffickers to be convicted and brought to justice governments, lawyers, judges, and legislation all need some definitive standard to hold up against the accused. Without a standard, it creates too much wiggle room for either a trafficker to allude conviction or the wrongfully accused to be convicted.

There are three parts that go into the definition of human trafficking. They are ACT, MEAN and PURPOSE. ACT is how someone brings another into a trafficking situation. MEANS is how they do it. PURPOSE is the exploitation method used. You can see how this breaks down in the list below.

ACT of: Recruitment, Transportation, Transferring, Harboring, Receiving

By MEANS of: Threat, Coercion, Abduction, Fraud, Deceit, Deception, Abuse of power

For the PURPOSE of: Prostitution, Pornography, Violence/Sexual Exploitation, Forced Labor, Involuntary Servitude, Debt Bondage (with unfair wages), Slavery/Similar Practices

There are important exceptions. If a child is involved consent is irrelevant because the act and purpose violate moral and legal standards nonetheless. With adults, if one of the means is involved, consent also becomes irrelevant because the means by which trafficking occurred proves their freedom and choice was removed by the trafficker.

Creating the definition of human trafficking has assisted governments towards anti-trafficking legislation and convictions. In 2003 only 33 countries had legislation in place to convict traffickers. That tally rose to 158 countries in 2016. While it is clear many still go without punishment, the UN has published about 1 person convicted per 5 survivors. The world is banding together to end this modern day slavery.

written by Natasha Komen

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