Thursday, February 25, 2010

History of Human Trafficking

The History of Human Trafficking

How did it begin?

There are several arguments about when human trafficking could have started. Some say that the slave trade in which Africans were captured by slave traders and shipped across the Atlantic to the Americas,was the first human trafficking.Others argue that the forced labor of children during the 1700s was the real beginning of what is now known as human trafficking. Human trafficking for sexual purposes was first legally recognized by the term 'white slavery'.According to Kristiina Kangaspunta,the Executive Officer of the Applied Research Program of the UNICRI branch of the United Nations, 'white slavery' is obtaining of a white woman or girl- by the use of force, drugs, or by dishonesty- for sex which is unwanted by the woman or girl(Kangaspunta). Kangapunta, has also argued that international governments began to discuss 'white slavery' after the
Transatlantic slave trade was made illegal.

The Fight Against Sex Trafficking

The British were the first to make a law against slavery in 1807, when they passed a law that made the Transatlantic Slave Trade illegal. In 1820,the United States followed Great Britain's example by making the slave trade a crime that was punishable by death.
In 1899 and 1902, international conferences to talk about white slavery were organized in Paris, France. Then in 1904, an international agreement against the 'white slave trade' was created, with a focus on migrant women and children. In 1910, 13 countries signed the International Convention for the Suppression of White Slave Trade to make this form of trafficking illegal. This International Convention led to the creation of national committees to work against the trafficking of white women. However, the first World War halted these efforts, and it wasn't until 1921 that the fight against trafficking continued. In June of 1921, a the League of Nations held an international conference in Geneva, in which the term 'white slavery' was changed to 'traffic of women and children'. This was done to make sure that: the trafficking in all countries was dealt with , the victims of races other than those termed 'white' were recognized, and that male children were also recognized as victims. During this conference, 33 countries signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children.
In 1923,the League of Nations had a group of experts carry out two studies on the trafficking of women and children. These studies were created to answer the following questions:were there many foreign women selling sex in the countries studied;was there a demand for foreign women prostitutes, if so , why was there a demand;what areas of their home countries were these women taken from and did they leave their home country by themselves or did someone help them; who were the people trafficking these women; what countries did these women come from, why did they leave their home countries, and how did they get to where they were. According to the results of the first study, most of the women came from many different European countries and were sent to countries in South America and Central America, and to Egypt, Algeria, and Tunis. The second study focused specifically on the sex trafficking between Asia and Europe and America. The results showed that very few Asian women were trafficked to Europe or America, and instead, mush of the trafficking victims were Americans and Europeans that were trafficked to Asian countries. The results of the second study also showed a pattern of Asian women being trafficked from one Asian country to the next, and of Asian women trafficked to men of their own ethnic background who were living in or visiting places outside of Asia. Both of these studies showed that the main ways traffickers used to convince women to be trafficked was the use of force and deception.
In 1949,the United Nations Convention of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others was passed.This was the first convention about human trafficking that was legally binding to the countries that signed it and required the countries to make prostitution illegal. However, like all of the conventions before it,this convention still dealt only dealt with human trafficking that had a sexual purpose. In 2000, the United Nations Protocol against Trafficking in Persons was passed. It made all forms of human trafficking illegal.
Human Trafficking Now
While human trafficking is internationally recognized and there have been many international laws passed against it, it is still a very serious issue around the world. According to a report given in 2004 by the US Department of State, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year and more people are trafficked within their home countries(Cree,2008).
Human traffickers currently still use methods for obtaining their victims that are similar to the methods that were seen the League of Nations 1923 study. According to Linda Woolf, a professor of Psychology at Webster University,the methods include coercion, which includes promises of a job or marriage, kidnapping, and some girls are sold to traffickers by their own parents(Woolf).

Cree,V.E.(2008).Confront Sex Trafficking:Lessons from History.International Social Work ,763-776.

Kangaspunta(n.d.)A Short History of Trafficking in Persons.Retrieved February 23,2010 from Freedom from Fear:

Woolf,L.M(n.d.)Sex Trafficking. Retrieved February 24,2010 from Women and Global Human Rights:

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  1. Nicely done, the information was all useful.

  2. horrible that this is happening

  3. this helped me alot with my essay! :)

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I don't know how the people doing this sleep at night knowing there destroying families ...

  6. Human trafficking is the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or for the extraction of organs or tissues, including surrogacy and ova removal. Importance of internet and social media in anti human trafficking movement is very crucial as it makes us enable to create fast awareness campaigns about human trafficking and modern day. missing children

  7. Thank you so much! This information is still relevant today.