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Impact of Human Trafficking on the Political and Cultural Stability of the Countries Affected

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Impact of Human Trafficking on the Political and Cultural Stability of the Countries Affected


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Human trafficking is as old as civilization itself. Human trafficking involves forcing people into slavery, bonded labour, and servitude. The United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 defined “severe forms of trafficking” as: a) “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or: b) the recruitment, harbouring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labour or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery”.

These definitions cover trafficking for both sexual and labour exploitation and do not require that a trafficking victim be physically transported from one location to another (U.S. Department of State, TIP Report 2005, p.12).

The U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (the so-called Palermo Protocol) defined human trafficking as: “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of 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.

Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, or the removal of organs”. The International Labour Organization (ILO) calls human trafficking as a form of modern slavery and ‘greatest challenge of our times’ (1). ILO estimated that there were over 12.5 million people trapped in forced labour out of which about 2.5 million people had been trafficked within and across borders.


Some of the causes of human trafficking are organized crime, absence of employment opportunities, fragile regional political structure, economic inequality,  social discrimination, corruption, political instability, dislocation of communities, marginalization of the poor people, poor law enforcement strategies, demand caused  by pedophiles, etc. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that most traffickers mange to slip away from the law and that there are not enough laws to prosecute them in various countries. One of the most common forms of human trafficking is sex trafficking.

The above table shows the statistics for sex trafficking as estimated by ILO.

The above table shows that prostitution accounts for more percentage than trafficking for various other reasons.

The following graphs show the scale of human trafficking in different regions of the world:









An analysis of these graphs suggests that women are trafficked more than any other class of people. Also, prostitution is the main purpose of trafficking, followed by bonded labour.

One of the chief reasons for human trafficking is poverty. Many parents choose to sell their children as slaves imply because they are unable to support them economically. WAO-Afrique, an independent organization based in Togo reported to the United Nations that, “The traffic of children especially concerns young girls between the ages of eight and 12. Children as young as six have also been found. There is a very distinct preference on the part of parents to place girls rather than boys in the service of relatives, be they close orfar away. According to the investigation, the phenomenon affects 80 per cent of children in rural environments, of which 75 per cent of the girls have never set foot in a school. More than 50 per cent of them are younger than 14 years old.”


Human Trafficking has reached such a large scale that it impacts the political scenario of countries affected. It influences formulation of migration policies, border control, and human rights laws. It also leads to economic loss in the forms of lost resources, remittances, and organized crime profiting while the government runs losses. ILO estimated that global human trafficking makes about $31.6 billion every year. This form of trafficking is thought to be the third most profit generating form of organized crime.

On an individual level, human trafficking causes:

Trauma in the trafficked people
Depression and states of helplessness, self-blame, dissociation, and withdrawal
Prevalence of psychotic and neurotic disorders in the victims
Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS infections, addiction to drugs and alcohol

On a socio-cultural level, trafficking entails violation of human rights, causes threat to the very fabric of society, manifestation of patriarchal attitude and undermines gender quality, and enormous economic loss to the affected governments.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a case in point on the impact of human trafficking on the political stability of the country. One of the major problems faced by DRC is that of child soldiers. The Thirteenth Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (S2003/2111) reports that about 35 percent of the armed rebel groups and troops are comprised of child soldiers and that these children are being sent to the front line in many cases. Laurent Kabila, leader of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for Liberation (AFDL), during recruited more than 10,000 children soldiers and sent them to war against the former President Mobutu during 1996–1997. After the war, many children continued to work for AFDL because they had nowhere else to do and many other children became street urchins. Other organizations that recruit and deploy child soldiers are Mai Mai, the Ugandan armed forces, and the Rwandan Defence Force to name a few. Save the Children report says, “In Uganda 1,500 children are still held by the Lords Resistance Army. Another 10,000 children associated with the LRA are still unaccounted for. In Sri Lanka, at least 5,000 children have been recruited since 2001. Despite the ceasefire signed in 2002, the threat of re-recruitment is once again so strong that parents are afraid to let children leave the house. An estimated 11,000 children are currently involved with militias in DRC. Children as young as eight are being recruited by the government army of Southern Sudan. Around 75% of former girl soldiers in Liberia reported having suffered sexual abuse or exploitation.”

The situation is rife in many European countries. Kosovo faces immense political turmoil because of its strategic location at the Balkan Peninsula’s heart. The state of chaos due to the entry of armed troops into the country gives advantage to those involved in trafficking. Amnesty International reports, “In 1999-2000 it was estimated that internationals comprised 80 per cent of the clients of trafficked women and girls….Today an estimated 20 per cent of the client base come from the international community.”

Action is taken by many governments in order to tackle this massive problem. Some countries have introduced legislation that makes human trafficking illegal in itself. Some countries differentiate between human trafficking and human smuggling. Trafficking involves force and coercion whereas human smuggling involves consent of the people trafficked. The latter case involves people who leave their countries of origin for reasons of poverty or security. They are offered asylum in destination countries. Governments are criticized for their ineffective action or in many cases, inaction. They are accused of not identifying the sources of trafficking and protecting victims. Most countries are condemned for converting victims of trafficking into criminals. A Human Rights Victims (HRV) study shows that trafficking victims in Cambodia are being arrested as criminals and prosecuted by criminal law. Sara Colm, a serbior researcher at HRV says, “Authorities should be protecting — not punishing — victims of trafficking. While these young women are in prison, their suspected traffickers and the brothel owners are free, protected by a criminal justice system that blames the victim. The traffickers are the ones who should be put on trial and punished.” Another criticism is that governments target only trafficking for sex while there are several other forms of trafficking. China has come out with a national plan in order to prevent trafficking among women and children. According to this plan a national anti-trafficking information system has been established in order to promote co-operation between individuals, government and non-governmental organizations. Its main objectives are, “create a Favourable Social Environment and Work Atmosphere, establish and strengthen the prevention crimes mechanism, combating criminal activities of trafficking and rescuing in women and children trafficked, and intensify work to rescue and rehabilitate trafficked women and children.” The United States of America has federal laws in place that declare human trafficking to be illegal under Title 18 of the United States Code. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act enforced in 2000 ensures that traffickers are given maximum sentence under law and victims are offered protection and assistance.

The business community has also been affected by human trafficking. Global corporate leaders met in Athens to sign on seven Ethical principles to combat the malaise: “zero tolerance towards human trafficking, awareness-raising campaigns

and educational activities, mainstreaming anti-trafficking in all, corporate strategies ensuring the compliance of personnel, encouraging business partners to apply the same ethical principles, advocacy to urge governments to strengthen anti-trafficking policies, and wider sharing of good practice.”

The civil society of South Asia recommends that new institutional and legal frameworks need to be developed in order to encourage more cooperation between the South Asian nations. In India labor laws do not recognize domestic work as ‘work’ and therefore domestic workers are not protected against abuse and trafficking by law. Nepal faces an enormous trafficking challenge as over 7,000 Nepalese girls are brought to India every year to work as prostitutes. It is estimated that about 200,000 of them now work in Indian brothels.

Europe is not impervious to these problems what with their tightened visa regimes, strict border control measures, strong asylum policies, and severe migration laws. People are either smuggled or trafficked across borders of countries with volatile political systems. The Federal Office of Police in Switzerland estimates that there are over 3,000 human trafficking victims in the country.

The countries most affected by human trafficking are also the countries that have the most unstable political structure as shown by the following table:

Trafficking Flows Within and From Africa

Origin Countries
Destination Countries
Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Lebanon, Libya, USA
Italy, Belgium, Netherlands
Middle East, Gulf states
Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria (children), Saudi Arabia, Kuwait (domestic labor)
Source: International Organization for Migration, Trafficking in Migrants, no. 23 (April 2001).

Trafficking Flows in South Asia

Sex industry
5,000-7,000 women and girls/year
Sex industry
Of 500,000 prostitutes in India, an estimated 13,500 are Bangladeshi
Sex industry
4,500 women and children/year; 200,000 over 10 years
Middle East
200,000 women and children over last 20 years; 3,397 children (1,683 boys) in last 10 years
Sri Lanka
Children: begging, labor, sex industry, child soldiers
Affects 100,000 children in Sri Lanka under age 16
Sri Lanka
Unclear; some sex industry, domestic labor
2,000-3,000 children/year
Source: International Organization for Migration, Trafficking in Migrants, no. 23 (April 2001).

Trafficking Flows in Central Asia

Kazakhstan (southern)
Either by charter flight or regular flight to United Arab Emirates
For all of Kazakhstan, extrapolating from one known case of 50 women trafficked from city of 150,000: 5,000 women in 1999
All of Kazakhstan: in 1999, 245 from Greece, 21 from United Arab Emirates, 16 from Turkey
Sex industry
Promises of jobs
Kazakhstan (northern)
By train to Moscow and with falsified Russian passports to Greece and other locations

Sex industry
Promises of jobs
Within Commonwealth of Independent States (37%), Middle East, Turkey; transit via Kazakhstan and Russia
4,000 (IOM/OSCE* estimate)
Via Kazakhstan and Russia
Sex industry

Middle East, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan
At least 20 known cases in 2000

* International Organization for Migration / Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Source: International Organization for Migration, Trafficking in Migrants, no. 23 (April 2001).


Human trafficking is a fundamental violation of human rights. It affects the political, cultural, social, and economic life of all the counties involved. It is a global problem now due to the forces of globalization. Those countries that are war prone are more susceptible to this problem because there are no laws in place to prevent trafficking and there are no laws to protect the victims. Global action plan has to be enforced in order to circumvent this problem.

Works Cited:



Trafficking in Children in West and Central Africa Mike Dottridge

Gender and Development, Vol. 10, No. 1, Trafficking and Slavery (Mar., 2002), pp. 38-42











Cite this Impact of Human Trafficking on the Political and Cultural Stability of the Countries Affected

Impact of Human Trafficking on the Political and Cultural Stability of the Countries Affected. (2016, Oct 16). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/impact-of-human-trafficking-on-the-political-and-cultural-stability-of-the-countries-affected/

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