The vast reach of global human trafficking

March 18, 2014

Human trafficking for forced labour, sexual exploitation and the illegal organ trade amounts to a criminal industry generating untaxed and untaxable revenues of some $32 billion, according to a paper published this month in the International Journal of Public Law and Policy.

The study by Katherine Taken Smith of Murray State University, in Kentucky, USA, and her colleagues suggests that human trafficking is rife in nations with high levels of corruption but that governmental and other corruption is not the only factor. "Ultimately, ending human trafficking requires changing peoples' attitudes and actions," the researchers say. "Human trafficking exists because there is a demand for the products and services connected to it." The phrase human trafficking is a limp euphemism for what is actually the modern slave trade. Victims, slaves, are exploited across the globe in the developing world and in the so-called developed world, where there is serious corruption and in countries where the corruption that exists is not so obvious or blunt.

The researchers point out that about half of victims of human trafficking are children and almost three-quarters are female. Estimates for the number of slaves being exploited right now across the globe put the figure as high as 30 million, but given the clandestine nature of the exploitation this is nothing more than an informed guess on a lower limit. The USA has been identified, they say, as the "transit and destination country" for many thousands of victims – up to 17,500 people ever year, in fact. Ironically, one might say, The US Department of State has labelled human trafficking as one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time.

"There is relatively little public outcry about the millions of people for sale in the world today. Stopping this travesty requires acknowledging the gravity of and then combining the efforts of all members of a civilised society, caring citizens, businesses, law enforcement, and government leaders," the researchers conclude.

Explore further: Human trafficking: A modern day slavery

More information: "Human trafficking: a global multi-billion dollar criminal industry" in Int. J. Public Law and Policy, 2014, 4, 293-308

Related Stories

EU nations warned to act as human trafficking worsens

April 15, 2013

Brussels warned European Union nations Monday to get a move on with adopting tough new rules against human trafficking or face sanctions as a first report on the problem showed "modern-day slavery" worsening across the bloc.

Recommended for you

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

Rare braincase provides insight into dinosaur brain

October 8, 2015

Experts have described one of the most complete sauropod dinosaur braincases ever found in Europe. The find could help scientists uncover some of the mysteries of how dinosaur brains operated, including their intellectual ...

How much for that Nobel prize in the window?

October 3, 2015

No need to make peace in the Middle East, resolve one of science's great mysteries or pen a masterpiece: the easiest way to get yourself a Nobel prize may be to buy one.

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.