Human Trafficking - A global 32 billion dollar business! Although I knew that the criminal act of

Although I knew that the criminal act of human trafficking existed, I really had no idea of the full extent of it until I did some research for my novel; possession is nine-tenths of desire. I trawled the internet and discovered facts, figures and comments from relevant crime fighting agencies, institutions and charities which confirmed that this is really a terrible and all but hidden crime.

Although a complete work of fiction, one of the themes in my book concerns trafficking women from the UK to other countries, essentially to become sex slaves. I learned through research that in real terms it’s estimated that between 6-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year and around 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation. It’s the third biggest crime industry after drugs and arms dealing, generating about 32 billion dollars annually.

At this point, I thought that this type of crime against mostly women and children was likely to be perpetrated by third world countries, but I discovered that about half of the money is made by industrialised countries.

Having said that, women from those third countries will possibly be less well educated than those from industrialised countries and therefore, potentially more at risk.

So yes, the poorest most unstable countries do seem to have the highest numbers as women are more vulnerable to being tricked and coerced into bad situations. Although it’s illegal in almost every country in the world, widespread corruption and greed make it possible for sex trafficking to quickly and easily take place. There are some institutions in the world that attempt to regulate and enforce anti-trafficking laws, but it seems that local governments and police forces may actually be participating in sex trafficking rings.

It’s a very lucrative business and amazingly there is still a fundamental belief amongst some that the lives of women are expendable and therefore worthless, so women are undervalued or not valued at all.

It does appear that the patterns of trafficking do tend to flow from East to West, but make no mistake, women can be and are routinely trafficked from any country to another country at any given time, victims exist everywhere, and we simply don’t know enough about this almost secret trade. My research revealed some utterly horrific stories about the various stages of degradation that trafficking victims experience, for example, victims are often locked up or unable to move about freely and are told that their families will be sought out and harmed or murdered if they try to escape.

Often female victims and children are forcibly raped by their captors in order to begin the cycle of abuse, some women are kept drugged to prevent escape but once the captivity begins, they may service up to 30 men per day, becoming vulnerable to sexual disease and all that goes with that.

It is both possible and likely that there are many women and young girls in the UK today being bought and sold into sexual slavery. Many that have been brought to this country under false pretences could be locked up in brothels, kept under threat of violence to themselves or their families if they do not comply with the instructions of their captors.

I think that most of us cannot even imagine the horror of being in such a predicament but good thoughts and sympathy for victims are simply insufficient.

The Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also referred to as the Trafficking Protocol or UN TIP Protocol) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000 and as of December 2014 has been ratified by 166 parties.

In the UK the National Crime Agency (NCA) leads UK law enforcement's fight to cut serious and organised crime and the UK Human trafficking centre (UKHTC) plays a central role in the NCA's fight. Organised Crime command at the NCA works in a coordinated way within the UK and internationally and works to combat human trafficking and involves a wide range of partners and stakeholders.

Countries throughout Europe translate and interpret the Palermo Protocol in different ways, so the definition of what constitutes human trafficking can differ between nations, although there are three main elements as follows:-

· The movement – recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people

· The control – threat, use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or the giving of payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim

· The purpose – exploitation of a person, which includes prostitution and other sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices, and the removal of organs

Useful links and charities:- The unseen charity established in 2008 was established to disrupt and challenge trafficking at all levels and works to offer help and support to victims Eaves’ Poppy Project was set up in 2003 to provide high-quality support, advocacy and accommodation to trafficked women; that is, women who have been brought into England or Wales to be exploited in some way. This could include but is not limited to sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, forced illicit activities and organ harvesting.

HERA assists:

· Women survivors trafficked for sexual exploitation and other forms of forced labour

· Young women vulnerable to dangerous migration, trafficking, and retrafficking

· Women survivors of violence, exploitation, and conflict

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