Modern Day Slavery: The Sex Trafficking Industry – By Rebecca Collier

4 May

Sex Trafficking is a subject that has received a huge amount of coverage over the past year or two, and is quickly becoming a ‘hot’ topic for discussion. This illegal trade of men, women and children for sex is second fastest growing in the world, only just trailing behind the global drug trade. This fact is disturbing enough, and one I personally find difficult to fathom. More people are stuck in slavery now than ever before, with approximately 20 million people involved in the human trafficking industry. Of this number, roughly 1 million are children. This problem exists everywhere, it is not unique to a certain race, country, or socio-economic background. It exists both in the Developed World and Third World, with 161 countries reported to have some involvement with the industry in their country, whether this be as a source, transit or destination country.

This is how it generally works: a person will either be sold by a family member to make money for the rest of the family, be promised a good job (ex: Film Star in Mumbai or even a waitress in Bangkok) or be kidnapped and smuggled across borders, normally with extreme force. Regardless of the method, none of it is moral and none of it legal. When this person arrives at their destination, any documents will be taken from them, and for many people it is not until they are forced into a small, dirty cramped room to service multiple clients per day that they realise the trade they have been sold into, and quickly realise a way out is hard to find. On average, only 1-2% of victims get successfully run away or get rescued.

Globalisation, no matter how beneficial it is for us in this current generation, plays a tremendous role in keeping traffickers out of legal jurisdiction, and allows them to successfuly continue in this industry. Multiple aliases, telephone numbers, addresses, different modes of transportation, and open borders make tracking down traffickers nearly impossible, significantly reducing the chances of rescuing victims. A statistic from 2006 shows that for every 800 people trafficked, only 1 is convicted.

In a documentary by Channel 4 entitled “The Hunt for Britain’s Sex Traffickers” we learn of a Chinese man, who had enlisted in six or seven UK Universities and was managing multiple brothels around the country out of his university dormitory room. Tracking this man down proved tricky for police who were led on a wild goose chase and finally after months of investigation found and convicted the man at the University of East Anglia. But what about the other thousands of traffickers? How long does this trend of sex trafficking have to go on for before severe action is taken?

This issue raises multiple questions: Who is at fault for this? To what extent does the government have to put appropriate measures in place, and when, if ever, do other states get involved to battle cross border smuggling together? What about state sovereignty? Do other states even need to get involved and does a single state hold any responsibility? Or is this an industry that will continue on without intervention? These questions are vital to the future of the sex trafficking industry, and to stopping it.

I will leave you with Natalia’s story, a story that is most likely similar to many. Natalia went to a coffee shop to go on a date with a guy that her friends introduced her to. When she went to the toilet, he drugged her and threw her into the car. He paid off the security guards at the Greek border, and freely entered the country. When she woke up she was chained to a bed, raped and beaten. Two weeks later, she was sold as a sex slave. Luckily, the A21 Campaign rescued Natalia in Greece, but there are many, many thousands of others who have not been, and will never be. How can we, as an international community, work towards abolishing slavery in the 21st century?

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