Understanding Global Slavery: A Reader

By Kevin Bales | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Human trafficking
A Worldwide Concern

What Is Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking is the modern term for a phenomenon—that of forcing and transporting people into slavery—which has been a part of civilization since the beginning of human history. Slavery and the traffic in slaves have continued into the present day. Today, however, a narrow focus on trafficking for sexual exploitation has obscured the larger problem. Sometimes synonymous with the slave trade, at other times the word trafficking has been used only to describe transporting and forcing women into prostitution. At the end of the nineteenth century, there was significant official concern in Europe and North America over the white slave trade (again primarily concerned with the enslavement of white women for prostitution), and much less concern over the continuing enslavement and trafficking of other ethnic groups. One of the first international instruments concerning human trafficking grew out of this concern.1

After World War II, another Convention was adopted to confront this trafficking in persons that was linked to prostitution. In the 1949 United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, it was agreed to “punish any person who, to gratify the passions of another: (1) Procures, entices or leads away, for the purposes of prostitution, another person, even with the consent of that person; (2) Exploits the prostitution of another person, even with the consent of that person.” This Convention also set out ways for countries to cooperate in the suppression of trafficking and to

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