Since every human being is born free and equal in dignity as well as rights, the right of every human living on this planet ought to be respected at all costs. For the success of the society that we live in to be realized, every one of us should treat each other equally without any discrimination.
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Treating each other without discrimination distinguishes us from animals. One of the infamous abuses of human rights is the practice of human trafficking, which has become prevalent in the current society. This is because in many places in the world, several individuals are currently living in bondage.
They tirelessly carry out various duties in industries under threat of violence, imprisoned in homes as domestic workers, or work as prostitutes under instructions from their bosses. Human trafficking enslaves individuals from all races, ages and they are forced to stay in deplorable conditions. This paper discusses the prevalence of this highly unrecognized, yet dangerous, epidemic in the world.
Definition of human rights and trafficking
Human rights are an important part in the understanding of the concept of justice. Since justice means fairness, the upholding of the rights of a person involves justice.
For humanness, justice is important; therefore, the act denying justice to a person is equivalent to denying the person his or her human rights. It is important to note that human rights advocate for the sustenance of the dignity and status of individuals. Human rights mean, “the affirmation of a dignified life to each individual and it involves showing love, humanness, and just relationship” (Sttiphan, 9).
By the fact that a person is a human, he or she is bequeathed with various rights that ought to be respected; therefore, the rights are considered in a universalist and democratic style. Human rights are usually present as common standards of conduct of real human morals or as legal rights within the local regulations of a particular country or within the international law. They may also be present as validated moral standards or natural rights substantiated by means of provable reasons.
Currently, human trafficking is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry that is increasingly becoming a major social problem in the twenty-first century. It is the “recruitment, transportation, or receipt of people for the purposes of slavery, forced labor, or involuntary servitude” (Zastrow, 301).
The individuals are usually deceived, lured, coerced, force-fed with drugs, intimidated or forcefully abducted to their new destinations where they face various forms of inhumane treatments. After recruitment, the victims are usually compelled to fulfill various duties with minimal or no wages.
The terms of employment are usually very exploitative. Although most nations have outlawed this practice, it is still being practiced and it is kept highly secretive. The practice of human trafficking is not the same with the smuggling of individuals since in smuggling, individuals willingly ask for the service of the smuggler, who is paid for his or her efforts, and the victims become free on arrival at their new world. However, human trafficking leads to the enslavement of the individuals in which they are denied their fundamental rights.
The changing of the concept of human rights over time
The concept of human rights, as they are currently being practiced by most nations of the world, took a long time to be developed adequately. After the Second World War, prominent world leaders realized that other more powerful people were oppressing the residents of their countries.
For the oppressed, the only way they could use to relieve their oppression was by engaging in war. The occurrence of more conflicts could only be avoided by providing a way that would ensure that equality is embraced in the society. Therefore, this concern of providing justice to the oppressed made many leaders of various countries to emphasize on the importance of respecting human rights since this was necessary for the sake of preserving the entire human race.
However, before this development, the concept of human rights was in existence in some other ways. The concept started when man began living in this world. This was for the reason of fulfilling the various needs and requirements of humans in a finite world. Therefore, various rules of conduct were enacted to ensure equal distribution of rights to limited resources for the fulfillment of the various needs and requirements.
As Rayner points out, “the earliest rules about standards of behavior among people dealt with prescribing or prohibiting conduct that experience proved was likely to lead to conflict (para. 3). During the early sixth century, the famous lawmaker, who was a Roman citizen called Justinian developed the Codex of various regulations. He attempted to come up with an organized system of rights and responsibilities.
The great religious organizations of the world had all attempted to develop an organized system of rights and responsibilities derived from the divine regulations. These religious organizations include, but not limited to, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam, and they all had profound ideas concerning the dignity of the human race.
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In the seventeenth century, due to the influence of great thinkers such as Grotius, Hobbes, and Locke, attention to human rights was shifted from social responsibilities to personal requirements and contribution. Consequently, these rights were referred to as ‘natural rights,’ or in other words, ‘the rights of man,’ and they became part of the political agenda.
This led to the conflict about politics in which people debated about the freedoms to give up things since it was argued that individuals in their ‘natural’ condition had unlimited freedom. The English Revolution of 1640 mainly took place because of this issue since the people fought for their rights. Almost half a century later, the Glorious Revolution took place against the oppressive English government.
This led to the enactment of the English Bill of Rights in 1689, which addressed the important issues of the time. The Bill of Rights reiterated a number of royal promises made by King John, under duress, in the Magna Carta (this was a charter that was initially produced in 1215 and it largely influenced the development of the Bill of Rights).
During the late eighteenth century, according to great thinkers such as John Locke, people held the claim that “no-one could be subjected to another’s rule unless they consented” (Rayner, para. 12). This ideology limited the functions of governments and made the American colonies’ Declaration of Independence in 1776, since the governments that could not protect the rights of their citizens were overthrown.
The most notable twentieth century declarations concerning ‘natural’ or human rights took place in 1948 following the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was heralded by a series of other international Conventions, Covenants, as well as Declarations.
Causes and Effects of human trafficking
The causes of human trafficking are many and varied. They mainly involve the economic condition of the areas whereby the victims came from. The fast increase in the world’s population has made many individuals to suffer from lack of jobs. Those who do not succeed in finding the jobs are usually the most susceptible for this kind of abuse (Salinger, 408).
This lucrative business has also been enhanced by the existence of porous borders and sophisticated communication equipment that aid the movement of the traffickers from one region to another. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is leaving many children as orphans who have to take care of their younger siblings.
This condition creates a fertile ground for traffickers who promise them ‘good’ life. Other causes include worldwide economic policies that facilitate the segregation of marginalized communities, increase in corruption, increase in domestic violence, gender discrimination, and the global increase in demand for cheap and exploitable workforce.
Human trafficking, as the fastest growing international crime, has widespread effects on the victims and to their countries of origin. The victims usually suffer from violation of their rights, intense psychological abuse, trauma, fear of being unsafe or lacking adequate protection, loss of faith in other individuals, resentfulness, emotional torture, and hardship conditions. Besides these, the long-term effects of undertaking this illicit trade are detrimental to the economic development of their country of origin (Connor, para. 3).
This is because the uneven movement of people out of a country lowers the levels of human capital available in the country. The proliferation of human trafficking is able to create negative demographic effects. This deteriorates the social fabric of the particular nation through abating the social standards and ethics while fostering bribery and illicit practices.
The victims of human trafficking
In some places of the world, human trafficking is managed by large organized traffickers who collaborate with high-ranked government officials in carrying out their purposes. Nonetheless, most traffickers are organized in smaller groups. These smaller groups concentrate on a particular area of the trafficking process, for example, abduction or trade. This increases their proceeds since only a small amount of resources are required to commence the lucrative business.
These groups of criminals most of the time target the most susceptible and defenseless members of the society. They get their victims from poverty-stricken regions where opportunities for getting assistance are minimal. Although they usually target disadvantaged individuals from various social backgrounds, the victims of human trafficking can come from anywhere since even individuals from affluent families can also be the target of traffickers.
The trafficking of women is particularly carried out for the sake of the lucrative sex industry where they are compelled to engage into prostitution and earn targeted daily quotas for their masters.
Traffickers take advantage of inadequate opportunities, make false arrangements for travel and work placements, and on reaching their destinations, the victims realize that they have been deceived concerning the terms and conditions of their new employment. Therefore, they find themselves in deplorable conditions that fleeing from is both complicated and harmful to them.
Agents and brokers who engage in child trafficking most of the time take advantage of the poor living conditions of their parents. Guardians sometimes agree to trade their children in exchange for large sums of money, which they use as a means of earning livelihood. Some other parents are victims of deceit after they have been falsely promised employment and escape from poverty for their children.
In addition, some other children are forcefully abducted or lured by the traffickers to their destinations. Recent studies have shown that many trafficked children, especially the males, are recruited in the armies to serve as child soldiers, and others, especially the females, are traded to serve in the global sex industry per year.
The misuse of the adoption process in most countries has escalated the number of victims of human trafficking. This has led to the trading of newborn babies as well as pregnant women in many places around the world. Men are also susceptible to this illicit trade. They are mainly trafficked to be employed as unskilled laborers in various industries. They work under forceful conditions with meager or no payment.
Fighting against trafficking violations of human rights and eliminating human trafficking
For the war against human trafficking to be won, adequate preventive initiatives must be carried out in order to avoid the violations of human rights. Since most traffickers usually seek to exploit the economic conditions of their victims by giving them false promises, such vulnerable people should be made aware of the risks that are involved through counseling when people they do not trust want to help them seek for better lives elsewhere.
Vulnerable communities can be protected from this illicit trade in human beings by practicing community-led activities. The porous borders of most countries are usually susceptible to the movement of the traffickers; therefore, communities living around these places should be educated on ways of detecting and preventing the unauthorized movement of persons.
Human trafficking is usually practiced in most countries and most policy makes are not aware of its existence and dangers. Therefore, to protect human rights, various policy makers, law enforcement agencies, and the civil society should be made aware of the sensitive nature of this issue by the use of appropriate training tools in order to reduce the effects of this practice that is threatening the security of the world.
Other appropriate ways of eliminating human trafficking are by coming up with new initiatives for fighting anti-trafficking, improving law enforcement efforts, and carrying out more prosecutions for people who are suspected of engaging in trading of human beings. Therefore, to protect the dignity of every person, it is of essence to offer assistance to grass roots efforts of indigenous human rights groups, engage in programs that aim at reducing poverty, and protect the vulnerable communities from unnecessary exploitation.
Most countries of the world are supporting the concept of universal human rights since they are becoming a worldwide principle that determines whether a country is governed properly or not. Because the threat of human trafficking is still a major problem in this century, concerted efforts need to be made by adopting appropriate measures for prevention, detection, and action.
Human trafficking will not be completely obliterated from the face of the earth if individuals settle down and stop making efforts to end this illicit activity. Consequently, with the enactment of the adequate counter strategies, human trafficking can be eliminated and the dignity of the human race can be preserved for the benefit of the forthcoming generations.
Connor, Gregory. “Human trafficking.” UMCOR-NGO. The Humanitarian Agency of the United Methodist Church. 2004. Web.
Rayner, Moira.” History of universal human rights-up to WW2.” History. N.d. Web. http://www.universalrights.net/main/histof.htm
Salinger, Lawrence M. Encyclopedia of white-collar & corporate crime. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 2005. Print.
Sttiphan, Em. Human rights: concepts and perspectives. New Delhi: Concept Pub. Co., 2002. Print.
Zastrow, Charles. Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare Empowering People. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Pub Co, 2009. Print.