Buying and selling human beings

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 January, 2012, 12:00am
 

Type 'human trafficking' into Google News, and you may be surprised by the results. Stories from countries you might expect pop up - Mexico, India, Malaysia - but you may also get results from places such as the United States, Britain and Canada.

Human trafficking is the illegal trade of people for some form of modern slavery. It usually involves taking people from their home to another country, either by tricking them into thinking they're heading to a better life, or by kidnapping them. But it doesn't have to happen across borders: trafficking can happen within a country.

Trafficking is different from people smuggling. People that are smuggled have asked or hired someone to secretly take them from one place to another. It usually happens when the hirer wants to leave their home country and enter another, but they do not have the legal right to do so.

Anyone of any age or gender can be a victim of trafficking. But there is a huge number of women involved, both as victims and as traffickers; many victims become involved in trafficking themselves as a way of escaping their own victimisation.

Stark facts

An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labour as a result of trafficking. Of these, 1.4 million, or 56per cent, are in Asia and the Pacific

Most victims are aged 18 to 24

An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year

What happens to victims

Forced labour - victims are forced to work against their will, under the threat of violence or other punishment, usually in unsafe conditions

Bonded labour - forced to work to pay off debts that will seldom ever be paid off

Sexual exploitation - forced prostitution, or sold to someone that will repeatedly sexually abuse or rape them

Child soldiers

Forced marriage

Their organs are removed

Organised begging rings - sometimes they are deliberately maimed so that people will feel sorry for them

The United Nations' Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines human trafficking as 'the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.'

International law

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also referred to as the Trafficking Protocol) was adopted by the UN in 2000. It entered into force on December 25, 2003, and is signed by 117 countries. It is designed to prevent and combat human trafficking, protect and help trafficking victims, and promote co-operation in fighting trafficking among the countries that signed the protocol.

A glance at the Asian problem

Cambodia

Men, women and children are trafficked for forced labour (including working for organised begging rings) and sexual exploitation in Thailand, Malaysia, Macau and Taiwan. Women and children are trafficked to Cambodia from China and Vietnam for sexual exploitation.

China

Women and children are trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation in Malaysia, Thailand, Britain, the US, Australia, Europe, Canada, Japan, Italy, Burma, Singapore, South Africa, and Taiwan. Women and children are trafficked to China from Mongolia, Burma, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, Ukraine, and Laos for sexual and labour exploitation.

Hong Kong

A small number of women and men are trafficked into the SAR from the mainland, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Columbia for sexual exploitation and forced labour. Some traffickers take their human cargo through Hong Kong.

Indonesia

Women and children are trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. Some women are recruited as mail-order brides for men in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Women and children are trafficked into Indonesia from the mainland, Thailand, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan, the Netherlands, Poland, Venezuela, Spain, and Ukraine.

Japan

Women and children are trafficked into Japan from the mainland, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America for sexual and labour exploitation.

Laos

Men, women and children are trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation in Thailand. Some Laotian women are trafficked for forced marriages to Chinese men. Women are trafficked into Laos from Vietnam and the mainland for sexual exploitation.

Myanmar

Men, women and children are trafficked to Thailand, the mainland, Malaysia, Bangladesh, South Korea, Macau and Pakistan for sexual and labour exploitation. Children are trafficked to Thailand to work as beggars. Some women and girls are trafficked for forced marriages to Chinese men.

Philippines

Men, women and children are trafficked for labour and sexual exploitation to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Africa, North America, and Europe. A small number of women are trafficked to the Philippines from the mainland, South Korea, Japan and Russia for sexual exploitation.

Thailand

Women and girls are trafficked to Japan, Malaysia, South Africa, Bahrain, Australia, Singapore, Europe, Canada and the US for sexual and labour exploitation. Many are lured to Taiwan, Malaysia, the US and the Middle East after paying recruitment agencies to find a job, and forced into involuntary servitude to pay off the debt. Men, women and children are trafficked into Thailand from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, the mainland, Russia, and Uzbekistan for sexual and labour exploitation.

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