Author: Muskan Dosar[1]

ISSN: 2581-8465

“Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity”. …Pope Francis


Human trafficking is often regarded as modern-day slavery. Slavery, servitude, selling of organs, child sexual exploitation, forced marriage, servile forms of marriage, child marriage, enforced prostitution and the exploitation of prostitution are some trafficking-related practices that are prohibited under international human rights law. Human trafficking is the 3rd largest crime industry after drugs and arms trafficking.

Freedom of people is being overtaken by someone else. They are being tortured mentally and physically. People who are trafficked are suppressed and brainwashed in such a manner that they are afraid to escape from the place where they are being kept. In the past two decades, human trafficking has emerged as international criminal trade on a vast scale all over the world.

Basic issues to be dealt with in this paper are:

  • Some of the major types of trafficking taking place all over the world.
  • Role of developed/developing countries in human trafficking.
  • Trafficking emerging as a trade with the rate of globalization taking place.
  • Some of the major human rights movements taking place or have taken place in the past.
  • Difference between human trafficking and human smuggling
  • Psychology of people who have been saved from trafficking.
  • Discussion on measures that can be put up by the authorities and individuals to combat human trafficking.


The terms Human Trafficking and Modern-day slavery are often regarded as synonyms and are used interchangeably. Survivors of human trafficking are forced, tricked or deceived into modern-day slavery

Slavery did not abolished with eradication in the 19th century. Instead, it changed its forms and continues to hit people in every country in the world be it developed, developing or underdeveloped country.

Whether they are women forced into prostitution, men forced to work in agriculture or construction labor, children in sweatshops or girls forced to marry older men, their lives are controlled by the trafficker, they no longer have a free choice, freedom to move or even freedom to communicate and they have to do as they’re told. They are in slavery- “modern-day slavery”.

Today slavery is less about people actually owning other people – although it still exists – but more about being exploited and completely controlled by someone else, without being able to leave.[2]

Human trafficking can be defined as:

“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring 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.”[3]

Force, fraud, and coercion are the key elements of human trafficking. Usually, women and children are targeted into this disastrous process of human trafficking. Consent of the person trafficked is never involved in human trafficking.

Force can be termed as use of strength or energy to control the person being trafficked by physical or sexual abuse or restrictions of one’s movement and way of living; fraud can be false promises of a better life or promise of marrying and being settled in a different country or misrepresentation of the working conditions or promises of a different job in the host country and a better lifestyle.; and coercion can be commination of harm to the victim or victim’s family or friends. Traffickers basically prey the following types of people:[4]

  • Undocumented immigrants
  • Runaway and homeless youth
  • Victims of trauma and abuse
  • Refugees
  • Impoverished individuals


Someone is in slavery:

  • If a person is forced to work – through coercion, or mental or physical threat or abuse to the person or his/her family;
  • owned or controlled by an ’employer’ or ‘trafficker’, through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse to the victim or their family;
  • dehumanized, insulted, exploited or treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’;
  • an individual does not have their own identity;
  • Movement of an individual being tracked or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement or to communicate with people in their surroundings.

Some major types of modern-day slavery prevailing all over the world are mentioned below:

  • Forced Labor – any work or services which people are forced to do against their will under the threat of some form of punishment to them or to their family. Forced labor can be in any field such as agriculture, cultivation, or construction, etc.
  • Debt Bondage or bonded labor – It is one of the most commonly found slavery all over the world, when people borrow money and are not able to repay their debt with heavy interest and are required to work to pay off the debt to their creditors, it is known as debt bondage. Usually when people lose control over their conditions of both their employment and the debt they have to work as bonded labor to pay off their debts to the creditor. Often creditor is even an employer for the bonded labors.
  • Human Trafficking -As we have already discussed human trafficking. Human trafficking involves transporting, recruiting or harboring people for the purpose of exploitation, using violence, threats or coercion.
  • Descent-based slavery – where people are born into slavery because their ancestors were captured and enslaved; they remain in slavery by descent or by birth.
  • Child Slavery – many people often confuse child slavery with child labor, but child labor is much worse and is used in a wider context. Whilst child labor is destructive for children and hinders their education and development, child slavery occurs when a child is exploited for someone else’s gain, a child loses its innocence and rights during the process of child slavery. It includes child trafficking, child soldiers, child marriage and child domestic slavery; even trafficked children are brainwashed and used as terrorists in some countries.
  • Forced and Early Marriage – Usually young girls are married against their will and are forced to live in the marriage and are exploited terribly. Most child marriages can be considered slavery.
  • Prostitution – Many young women and girls are pushed into the profession of prostitution without their will. Prostitution is even illegal in various countries but still, it is prevailing in various countries and even cannot be totally abolished in the country where it is illegal.[5]


Eventually, every country in the world is affected by this inhuman crime of trafficking. The challenge for each and every country, rich and poor, developed, developing and underdeveloped is to target the criminals who exploit victims of trafficking and to protect and assist victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants, many of whom endure unimaginable hardships in their bid for a better life.

UNODC (united nation office on drugs and crime) is the only United Nations entity focusing on the criminal justice element of these crimes, some of the programs and projects by the UNODC are mentioned below.

  1. GLO ACT –The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) is a joint initiative by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It is a four-year (2015-2019), €11 million initiative by the UN. The project is being executed in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This project reaches thirteen countries all around Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
  2. GLO.ACT Asia and the Middle East –this the sub-project of the GLO.ACT “The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants – Asia and the Middle East” (GLO.ACT Asia and the Middle East). This is a four year based project (2018-2022) joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) implemented in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in five countries in the region of Asia and the Middle East. 
  3. The Human Trafficking Knowledge Portal –This is an initiative to facilitate the distribution of information regarding the implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and especially the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
  4. The Human Trafficking Knowledge Portal -It hosts a Case Law Database on officially documented court cases concerning trafficking in persons and a Database on Legislation.
  5. The Inter-Agency Coordination Group against  Trafficking in Persons(ICAT) – Itis a policy forum mandated by the UN General Assembly to improve coordination among UN agencies and other relevant international organizations to facilitate a holistic and comprehensive approach to preventing and combating trafficking in persons, including protection and support for victims of trafficking.

The UNODC Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking provides basic humanitarian, legal, and financial aid to trafficked victims through governmental, inter-governmental, and civil society organizations.

The key aim is to give people from all walks of life – including governments, the private sector, international organizations, NGOs, and individuals the opportunity to work together to provide solutions to assist victims of human trafficking.[6]


Today all over the world globalization is emerging at a rapid rate. With globalization, the uncountable effect is taking place all around the world.  As globalization is taking place, some favorable events such as opening borders between nations and increasing the awareness of the differences between racial, religious, traditions, casts as well as making it possible for developing economies to develop economically and socially. Though, globalization is emerging at a rapid speed, but “every good is accompanied by an evil”.cOne such adverse impact of globalization is human trafficking. This crime which is considered as one of the most disastrous and shameful crimes in the world today is affecting the lives of millions of people around the globe and robbing them of their life, freedom, and dignity. Globalization has reduced human beings to objects of trade which are bought and sold to render service on the demands of global consumers for cheap goods and services, from agricultural products to commercial sex, victims of human trafficking are being exploited all around the globe by the traffickers.

Globalization can be defined as:

“The growing liberalization of international trade and investment, and the resulting increase in the integration of national economies” (Griswold, 2000)

Globalization has a lot of blessings associated with it. The most remarkable ones are that countries that enthusiastically embrace it have the potential to experience faster and exponential growth, reductions in poverty, an increase in employment rate, and an increase in literacy rate and promote democracy. As the world has become so small that it evolves towards a sort of global community, the transfer of people both voluntarily or by force has become more widespread. This condensing of the world is the handiwork of globalization (Devin 2009 p 46). These positive sides of globalization have blinded a section of the society so much that they omit its security implications, especially when it comes to one of the most disastrous crime-human traffickings.

“According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, and among illegal enterprises in the world today, human trafficking is second only to drug dealing” (USSD 2004).  It has been identified, each year, income from this illegal trade generates billions of dollars as people are exploited and are forced to work in various disrespectful professions such as prostitution, pornographic industry, sweatshops, construction, housekeeping, agriculture, and restaurants around the globe. 

Globalization has forced human being to become a commodity. Even each and every organ of the human body, even the body itself is been traded and used as a commodity. Globalization, which has made the world a global town has also made commodities more readily available to people and companies around the globe. Therefore, the logic here is that if human beings are been considered commodities or goods, then globalization can be seen as a catalyst for human trafficking.

CQ GLOBAL research stated that 21 million people are suffering because of this inhuman trade (Maybee 2016 p109) –human trafficking.  In the financial year 2016, “1029 investigations were initiated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) into human trafficking cases and recorded 1,952 arrests, 1,176 indictments, and 631 convictions. 435 victims were identified and assisted” (ICE 2017). To our bad fortune, still, the accurate information and statistics of this inhuman trade is not available. Data and statistics on how traffickers operate and the most effective means to stop it is very rarely available.


The linking thread between human rights and the fight against human trafficking is well established. From its roots to the leaves, human rights law has unambiguous proclaimed the fundamental immorality and unlawfulness of one person appropriating the legal personality, identity, lifestyle, labor or humanity of another. Human rights law prohibits- discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste, and sex; it has demanded equal or at least certain basic rights for non-citizens; it has decried and unlawful arbitrary detention, forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage, and the sexual exploitation of children and women; and it gives freedom of movement and the right to leave and return to one’s own country whenever one wishes to.


  • The prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or another opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or another status
    • The right to life
    • The right to liberty and security
    • The right not to be submitted to slavery, servitude, forced labor or bonded labor
    • The right not to be subjected to torture and/or cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment
    • The right to be free from gendered violence
    • The right to freedom of association
    • The right to freedom of movement
    • The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
    • The right to just and favorable conditions of work
    • The right to an adequate standard of living
    • The right to social security
    • The right of children to special protection


  • Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000 (Trafficking Protocol)
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979
  •  Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989
  • Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, 2000
  • United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, 1990
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966
  • Council of Europe, Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, 2005 (European Trafficking Convention)
  • Charter of Fundamental Rights in the European Union, 2000, article 5, and Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and Council on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, 2011

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution, 2002[7]


  • Human trafficking does not particularly involve crossing borders but Human Smuggling involves illegal migration from one country to another.
  • Human trafficking involves exploitation which is not involved in human smuggling.
  • Smuggling can be a part of human trafficking.
  • Smuggling and human trafficking are not interchangeable terms. Smuggling is transportation-based and involves movement but does not involve exploitation whereas human trafficking is exploitation based.
  • The basic difference between human trafficking and smuggling is freedom of choice.
  • The process of smuggling involves the will of the person smuggled, thus it is a voluntary act whereas trafficking is never a voluntary act.

So the question here arises is when does trafficking emerge from smuggling? Traffickers have ongoing control over victims and they do exercise control not only physically but mentally also on the victims. We come across many instances where smuggling turns out to be a starting point of trafficking. Smugglers may hold the possession of the person to pay off the debts and even refuse to release them to anyone else. Smugglermay makes the person work off their debt in extreme condition and even may not pay them basic remuneration.[8] During this process of smuggling turns into human trafficking.


When a person smuggled is retained forcefully and is exploited using coercion or force, it turns out to be a process of human trafficking.

We can easily spot victims of human trafficking. Many share common characteristics. Victims may be physically left alone or guarded, while others are held through psychological coercion. Some victims are lured into slavery with the assurance of a “better life,” and some are blatantly forced into submission to the trafficker. Others are stolen or kidnapped into slavery. A person held forcefully is forced into physical labor or sexual trade. They are exploited to the extent where victims do not interact with the outside world, they are unaware of the native language of the place where they are trafficked, they may disgust the law and even do not entrust government because of the fear and threats of abuse, imprisonment, or deportation.

“The psychological impact of victimization may be more severe than the physical violence” (WHO, 2012).

Victims who have survived human trafficking, may present with various psychological illness and their mental health may be impacted, including the following:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Panic disorder
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Stockholm Syndrome
  • Substance abuse
  • Disorders of Extreme Stress (DESNOS)

In addition to these disorders, many victims of human trafficking also have secondary psychological issues such as alcohol and drug abuse plus concurrent medical illnesses, which add to the psychological burden that sex trafficked victims endure[9].

Victims’ mental health is affected so much that they are afraid to seek help. They may be forced to believe that they themselves are responsible for their condition. In many instances, victims may not seek immediate help. In the case of sex-trafficking, traffickers may often misidentify women and girls as “willing” sex workers in their trade and they are their because of their own will. Victims are left isolated and traffickers keep their eyes on each and every movement of victims. Victims are unaware of their location and do not know in which country, city or boundary they are situated in. They are unaware of the native language and could not communicate with the people in their surroundings and are afraid to take their grievances to legal authorities and government.

When victims seek help, they may encounter many challenges.


Anyone can join the battle against trafficking in human beings. Few ideas are discussed here to combat and help victims of human trafficking:

  1. Learn the indices of the victims suffering from human trafficking. It will help you to identify a prospective victim of trafficking and spread the information around you. Various awareness training and programs to identify human trafficking is accessible for individuals, business houses, companies, first responders, law enforcement, teachers, and federal staff.

Some of the major indicators of human trafficking are mentioned below:

  • Victims suffering from human trafficking may appear malnourished as they are not given proper food and proteins;
  • Victims may have signs of physical injuries and abuse on his/her body;
  • Victims are so much brainwashed and manipulated that they lose their self-confidence. Victims may not have proper eye contact, social interaction, and may be afraid to go up to authority figures/law enforcement;
  • In a social gathering, they may not communicate much and may seem to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction;
  • Legal and official documents of victims of human trafficking may be confiscated and victims may lack their identification proves; [10]
  • In whichever country or state you are, there are always legal and government authorities to help out the victims of human trafficking. If you ever come across any such victim of human trafficking, find out the helpline no. of the legal authorities who are helping to combat human trafficking and coordinate with them to help out the victim. Be an educated and well-aware consumer. Track the footprint of the modern-day slavery around you, ask who picked your groceries, who served you food in your favorite café, who have done your clothes, or who washed your utensils in a grand party of any of your friend or relative, human trafficking can be anywhere around us. 
  • Volunteer and promote your community’s antitrafficking initiatives. 
  • Try to meet and/or write to the officials of your local, state and federal government to let them know that you are interested in helping them to combat human trafficking and ask what they are doing to tackle it.
  • Try to organize an event to raise awareness. Host a program to watch a movie or documentary related to human trafficking and discuss measures that can be taken to combat human trafficking in the society you are living in. For instance, learn how modern-day slavery exists today; watch a sex trafficking research documentary, or find out how human trafficking can impact worldwide.
  • Try to track financers around you who are willing to support projects and programs related to human trafficking. Host fundraiser events, seminars or conferences and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization or local authorities who are working to combat human trafficking and helping out the victims of human trafficking to live a better life.
  • Visit local colleges and schools to encourage them to conduct seminars and conferences for spreading awareness among teachers, students, parents about human trafficking and how traffickers target school-aged children and young students and how they can help to combat human trafficking.
  • Be well informed.     To obtain current news about trafficking in human beings, set up a web alert. Get in touch with various local organizations that are taking measures to help combat human trafficking.
  • Work with a local religious group or congregation to assist prevent trafficking through promoting a victim service provider or raising awareness of trafficking in human beings.
  • Businesses: big business houses and industries should be encouraged Provide jobs for their livelihood. Programs should be conducted for the victims to provide them proper education, internships, skills training, and other opportunities
  • Students: On your campus, take action. Join or set up a university club to increase awareness of trafficking in human beings and take action across your local society. Consider making one of your study articles on a human trafficking subject. Application for the inclusion of human trafficking in university curricula.
  • Health care providers: organize an event for the health-care providers that how can try to help victims of human trafficking. Extend low-cost or free services to the victims of trafficking with the help of anti-trafficking organizations and NGOs.
  • Journalists: Media plays a huge role in shaping perceptions and guiding the human trafficking public discussion. Media should bring the harsh reality of trafficking in front of the people and should right the articles for the on human trafficking and spread awareness regarding it.
  • Attorneys: Provide legal services to victims of human trafficking, including assistance to those seeking advantages or unique immigration status. Resources are accessible for lawyers representing human trafficking victims


This research is to draw the attention to the decision-makers and law enforcers of the nations towards this inhuman trade which is emerging at a rapid speed and need to be stopped. Though statistics is available in various websites still accurate data is not available. Lawmakers need to study this crime very closely and need to enforce the law to combat human trafficking. On the other hand individuals can work upon there level to study and combat human trafficking in their country.

“The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Action plan to combat human trafficking works on the 3-tier structure of 3P’s:

  • Prevention, including awareness-raising and addressing root causes;
  • The prosecution, including investigation and co-operation with international law enforcement; and
  • Protection of victims’ rights, including assistance and compensation.

In 2013, the OSCE added a fourth “P” – a chapter on partnerships – highlighting the need for enhanced co-operation with international organizations and other partners”[11]

The intervention of all the countries varies- where some countries are working on a huge scale and creating policies to combat human trafficking; others are lagging behind with no counter-trafficking.

The trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was enacted in 2000. It was the first federal law to address sex trafficking and labor trafficking in the United States. 

Nearly, 200,000 Indian children are forced into human trafficking each year.  The biggest hardship for India is to enforce one universal law in such a large and regionally diverse country. At the same time, factors like corruption and lack of training and resources make it difficult to ensure that programs are effective all over the nation.

It is important to all of us to know that how disastrous this crime can be and if precautions and steps are not taken soon, not only individuals trapped in this crime will be affected but it can be equally disastrous to us.

[1]Studying in 2nd year BBA LL.B. (Hons.) at ‘ The ICFAI University, Dehradun’; Email- [email protected], Mobile no.- 9305024341


[3] According to the definition given by the United Nations. ( )

[4]Psychological Impact of Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery Worldwide: Empowerment and Intervention, Leah Kaylor, Intern from John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY (



[7] Human Rights and Human Trafficking, Fact Sheet No. 36, UNITED NATIONS New York and Geneva, 201

[8] Opinion- difference between human trafficking and human smuggling (

[9]Mental health issues in survivors of sex trafficking, James A. Levine ( )



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