What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is when people are taken from their normal lives, and they are put into a situation where they are forced to do things against their will for the benefit of others (OCHRC). The US Department of State indicated in 2017 that the countries with the greatest amount of human trafficking included Belarus, Central African Republic, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela. According to the US Department of State some forms of human trafficking include forced labor, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor, child soldiers, and sex trafficking. There are more types of human trafficking which are prevalent around the world, and one type which is prevalent in Southeast Asia is organ trafficking according to the UN. All forms of trafficking greatly affect human rights. According to the UN, “Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.” These rights are guaranteed to every person no matter their race, ethnicity, sex, etc.

How Does Human Trafficking Affect Human Rights

Human trafficking is a global issue which on the rise. This can be seen through the graph presented below which shows the rise in convictions for human trafficking from 2007 to 2016. This issue heavily affects human rights which is why a human rights approach needs to be taken to defeat it. Firstly, a human rights approach needs to be taken to protect human trafficking survivors after they have been rescued. According to Mary Buckley, survivors of human trafficking are given the option of protection in Russia only if they decide to testify in their case. Meng-Hsuan Chou adds that these victims are still vulnerable to being deported even if they decide to cooperate. Leaving these victims to fend for themselves leads to a bigger risk for them to be trafficked again (Howard and Lalani). It can be seen through this example, taking a criminal approach towards this issue adds more issues for the potential victim. Also, a human rights approach would make sure the victims’ rights are secured. Making sure a victim’s rights are protected is important, so they do not become the villain in this situation. According to the UN Charter the UN has an obligation to, “…reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.” This means everyone’s rights should be actively promoted and protected by the UN. This does not discriminate against anyone, and it would be the perfect way to approach a human trafficking case. Because every victim of human trafficking has their rights violated, these same rights should be the focus of the investigation. Their rights should become a priority since they already got them taken away for a period of time. Another reason this approach should be taken is because it would put the victim in the center of everything. The focus would not mainly be set on the perpetrators. Instead, a light would be shed onto the victims, and they would have the opportunity to use their voices for the benefit of the public. The article, “Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery,” states, “The European Commission has stated that the ‘needs and rights’ of victims ‘shall be at the centre of the EU policy against human trafficking. This means first and foremost a clear commitment of EU institutions and Member States to follow a human rights centred approach and to promote it in their external relations and development policies.’” It can be determined that the European Union agrees with a human rights approach when it comes to human trafficking. This is important to note because one of the reasons this organization was created is to maintain security in several areas. For them to see that this issue needs to be approached with a focus on human rights proves this is one of the best approaches which should be taken.

Some would say…

The approach which is used currently would be more of a criminal approach. In this approach the attention is more so on the perpetrators and their convictions. This approach is about punishing the people who are committing crimes against these innocent people. It makes these victims’ human rights be pushed aside for an investigation. These victims are open to getting condemned for things that they have done wrong when dealing with this issue (Pescinski). For example, the victim being an illegal immigrant or having a risky lifestyle beforehand could play into how the investigation is pursued. These types of things could get in the way of attacking the real issue at hand. This is not fair to the victims because they should not be put on trial in this situation. The victims should be uplifted and shown that they still have power. The human rights approach would do this by putting the victim first. The victim should be the center of attention because of all they have lost. They have lost precious time away from their families, loved ones, school, work, vacations, etc. Their rights should be protected at all costs, and the human rights approach would be the perfect way to make sure of this. The victim would be protected, and the issue would be fought head on. This doesn’t mean the perpetrators would not be dealt with. They would still be dealt with, but the victims and their rights would be the center of attention. 

Why does this matter?

This issue is important because it is all around us. We don’t know how many people we pass by in malls, on the street, or on the road who have experienced this type of inhumane experience. Anyone is susceptible to being a victim of human trafficking. The graph below shows how much human trafficking is prevalent and expanding around the globe. We must do more to make sure these victims are taken care of and treated in the best way possible. A little bit of help from each person goes a long way. Some ways you could contribute to the fight are being correctly informed, spreading the word through all platforms, donating anti-trafficking groups, and reporting any suspicious activity you witness. Also, learn how your government handles human trafficking cases. Becoming educated in this area can allow for better conversations with representatives and a stronger understanding of what you are fighting for. It’s our duty as humans to take care of each other because anyone could be next. Would you want your rights to be infringed upon and for no one to do anything about it? You have the power to contribute today! To learn more about trafficking indicators visit this website: https://www.unodc.org/pdf/HT_indicators_E_LOWRES.pdf  

Annotated Bibliography

Elizabeth Mendez 

Professor Jurjevic 

English 1103

13 November 2022 

Annotated Bibliography: Human Trafficking and Human Rights

Farbey, Judith. “Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery .” Jstor, 2007, https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/42947265.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A2db68f643663f5ad12986f83568ee2a2&ab_segments=0%2Fbasic_search_gsv2%2Fcontrol&origin=  

Judith Farbey argues in his article, “Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery” (2007), that a human rights approach needs to be taken when it comes to human trafficking. The article states that human rights should be what the UK mainly focuses on when it comes to human trafficking, and the European Union commission has previously stated that all human trafficking victims rights will be the main focus when it comes to these cases. Farbey wanted to inform people of the troubles of the current approach being taken in order for it to be changed more towards a human rights approach. The author wanted this to reach the people who have and haven’t been affected by human trafficking, so he tried to bring attention to the issues he saw and how they could be fixed. 

This will be useful because it states how a different organization will approach the issue. It also connects human rights and human trafficking. There is an emphasis on how the victims’ human rights would be infringed upon which will be useful for my research. 

Howard, Neil, and Mumtaz Lalani. “The Politics of Human Trafficking.” Jstor, 2008, https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/26225802.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A15f407b73a08b51571a096d191a0b3a5&ab_segments=0%2Fbasic_search_gsv2%2Fcontrol&origin= 

Neil Howard’s and Lalani Mumtaz’ article, “The Politics of Human Trafficking” (2008), creates an argument in which the government is wrong for approaching this issue in a criminal direction instead of a human rights direction. These two authors explain how state sovereignty is put above human rights and the victims are criminalized instead of being helped with this approach. The author wanted this information to be available to the public in order for this approach to be changed. This was intended to be seen by people who are unaware of this specific issue. 

This could be useful to me because it shows how politics play a role in human trafficking. I could get examples of all the countries and how differently they view human rights. I could then use this to show how human trafficking is handled due to this. 

OCHRC. “About Trafficking in Persons and Human Rights.” OHCHR, 2020, https://www.ohchr.org/en/trafficking-in-persons/about-trafficking-persons-and-human-rights.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights created the article, “About Trafficking in Persons and Human Rights” (2020), that was made to prove which human rights are attacked when focusing on human trafficking. This is discussed through hitting topics like slavery, child labor, sexual exploitation, standard of living, etc. The author wanted to bring light to the specific human rights that human trafficking targets in order to inform the public of the issue. The people they wanted to reach out to are those interested in the topic and those who might be doing some research because they seek to expand their knowledge of the topic. 

I could use this in my essay by explaining the different forms of human trafficking which are given in the article to give the readers more knowledge about the topic. Also, I could discuss the different ways human trafficking affects human rights. The examples the article gives would be perfect for me to use to truly show the amount of damage human trafficking can cause towards out human rights. Also, there are a couple of statistics about human trafficking which I could use. 

Pescinski, Janina. “A Human Rights Approach to Human Trafficking.” Our World, 2015, https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/a-human-rights-approach-to-human-trafficking.

Janina Pescinski’s article, “A Human Rights Approach to Human Trafficking” (2015), formulates an argument that a human rights angle would be the ideal route to go when handling human trafficking. A human rights approach should be considered because there would be no discrimination of people who are victims of sex trafficking, everyone would be equally protected based on things like gender, and the victim would be the main focus instead of the perpetrators. Pescinski wanted to inform people of this in order to bring awareness to the benefits of this approach. The people she intended this for are people unaware of the topic or looking to be more involved in the process. 

I could discuss the importance of focusing on victims’ human rights even after they are rescued. This could help develop my argument of how greatly human trafficking hurts our human rights. I could also use the discussion of the human rights approach in my essay. I could do this by focusing on how important it is to emphasize how human rights are necessary to be taken into account . 

Trent , John, and Laura Schnurr. “Promoting and Protecting Human Rights .” Jstor, 2018, https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/j.ctvdf03xp.9.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Aab40a123e1194b8469e49cfb7ea56b04&ab_segments=0%2Fbasic_search_gsv2%2Fcontrol&origin=  

John Trent and Laura Schnurr section named, “Promoting and Protecting Human Rights” (2018), contains the argument that we have a right to have our rights promoted and protected. We have a right to this because the UN is supposed to handle this task, and the UN Charter even states these rights must be reaffirmed. The author wanted to make sure people know they have rights which should not be infringed upon in order to defend themselves if ever needed. The intended audience would have to be people who do not know much about their rights or people who are looking to learn more about them. 

I find this to be useful for me because it states the importance of human rights. If human rights are so important to the UN, the question of what they are doing when it comes to human trafficking can be asked. Also, this can be used mainly to focus on what human rights mean and how we give them importance in our world.