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Running Head: Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking: Social Welfare and US Policies and Issues

Trisha Wisniewski
Wayne State University

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Human Trafficking: Social Welfare and US Policies and Issues

Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking is another term for modern-day slavery. A huge number of people
worldwide are held captive and are forced to work. At times, their masters physically beat them
to force them to work. They even sell these people to others. They make false promise to people
regarding job, money, education and better living conditions to trick them into slavery.
Eventually, they break these promises. In this way, they trap already vulnerable people (Hart,

Social Issues
There are various forms of human trafficking. A few of them include forced labor, forced
marriages, sex trading and debt bondage (Human Rights Commission, 2013). Human trafficking
affects almost all types of people. Young women, children, older women and men are all equally
vulnerable to trafficking. Mostly, trafficking targets are people in rural areas people because they
are the ones who are least aware of the realities of this world are in earnest need of quick money.
The victims of trafficking suffer from mental, psychological and emotional disorder. Upon
arrival to their native country, these victims are socially isolated, deprived of the basic necessities
of life, looked down upon by society and held in confinement. Children who are compelled into
labor have to work for long hours. They are even beaten by their owners. The victims are labeled
as damaged or un-cleaned.
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History of Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking has existed since ancient times. In holy books such as the Old
Testaments and New Testaments, in the Holy Quran of Muslims, and in the holy books of ancient
Greece and Rome, slavery of human beings is clearly illustrated. The issue of human slavery
existed in many ancient civilizations such as pre-Columbian America, Africa, Asia and Europe.
In these societies, the majority of the slaves were captives of war and their successors. Free
people were also enslaved as a result of their financial collapse or for failing to fulfill a pledge on
behalf of someone else that they had entered. They could also be made slaves as a penalty for
breaking the law (Dupont, 2009). At times, to survive from a financial collapse, free people
normally sold themselves or their family into slavery. In those times, anybody`s enslavement was
a well recognized social reality.

Identification as a problem
In 1807, Great Britain recognized and identified human trafficking and slave trading as a
problem. It banned slave trading across its empire. The slave trading that was legally recognized
in Britain continued. In 1833, all types of human trafficking were banned in Britain. In 1865, The
United States banned slave trading. Various other countries slowly and gradually started banning
human trafficking (Dupont, 2009).

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Comparison of human trafficking in ancient times and modern world
Human trafficking is an issue that exists in today`s world, as well as ancient times.
Human trafficking or modern-day slavery has a lot of similarities to the slavery that used to
take place in ancient times. The master of slaves has almost complete control over his slaves. His
slave works and lives his life according to his master`s orders.
There is one significant difference between modern-day human trafficking and traditional
slavery. In ancient times, such an act came under constitutional laws. Law allows such acts. In
today`s world, slavery is not legally recognized. The people who are enslaved are hidden and
protected from legal eyes. This is done to prevent their actual situation from being disclosed.
Slaveholders cannot rely on the ancient time`s property law to possess the slaves. Force,
coercion, and threats of force (e.g. violent threats for the family) are the tactics used to enslave
people. These means of control are routinely used these days to enslave people (Dupont, 2009).
These days human trafficking victims, are seen as disposable items. Possible services and
labor are extracted from the slaves without maintaining their health or lives. After some times, if
the slaves are holding up their purpose for the slave master they are simply replaced.

Policies & Services to address the problem
The United States has formulated policies to combat the harmful activity of trafficking. The
United States of America has defined trafficking as a contemporary manifestation of
conventional slavery. The policy defines the predominant victims of this activity as children and
women. These policies ensure effective and just punishment of the criminals of these act of
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trafficking. This policy works towards protecting the victims of trafficking. The United States
policy states:
1. Anyone who intentionally obtains or provides the labor of a person by physical restraints or
threats against that person shall be subject to a fixed-term imprisonment of a maximum of
twenty years. He may also be liable to a certain amount of fines.
2. If death results due to the preceding point`s act, the criminal shall be subject to an
imprisonment for a lifetime. He shall also be fined.
3. Anyone who possesses, conceals, destroys or confiscates anyone else`s passport or any other
official document shall be subject to a fixed-term imprisonment of a maximum of five years.
He shall also be fined.
4. The Attorney General should give grants to each state`s sexual assault coalition and domestic
violence coalition in order to coordinate state victim activities and coordinating and
collaborating with Federal State, and local people engaged in violence against activities
related to women.
5. If a person violates any of the chapter of the policy of US against human traffickers, the court
should order forfeiting of that person to the US; in addition to other imposed sentences.

Changes in policies over time
Steps have been taken by the government of various countries to fight against human
trafficking. As time passes by, novel issues keep on arising related to human trafficking. Around
about 700,000 people, mostly children and women, are trafficked across international borders
annually ("The Cnn Freedom," ). A rise in the rate of trafficking creates concern for the human
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trafficking policy makers of various countries. This rise in rates of human trafficking and slavery
brings about changes in policies with time. Existing law enforcement and legislation in various
countries is insufficient to minimize trafficking and bring justice to traffickers. The penalties
assigned to the human traffickers are quite weak penalties. Existing laws on human trafficking
are not adequate to protect its victims (Anonymous, 2000). As the victims are mostly illegal
immigrants in the other country, they are treated with more severe punishments than those who
traffick those immigrants. These are the reasons which require major changes in the policies for
human trafficking. A more thorough survey of data and revision of policy are required to combat
human trafficking.

Social Stigma, Discrimination and Societal Prejudices
While the state implements the policies. These policies usually have an enormous effect
on the country`s trafficking system. The people who become the victims of trafficking face
enormous consequences. Mostly the victims of human trafficking are the powerless, poor,
socially isolated and disabled people. If these people return without any money, they generally
face social disapproval from the society. People do not take into consideration the harm they
suffered. While in their own country of origin victims of trafficking are blamed for their
disreputable character. They are considered a disgrace and shame to the family and community.
This leads to the isolation of traffic victims.

The Social Problem in a Global Perspective
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There are various similarities and differences in policies of United States and other
nations. In United States, a well-defined set of policies is created. This has tremendously helped
in reducing the issues related to human trafficking. Longer duration fixed-term imprisonments
and heavy fines imposed on the traffickers have significantly helped in mitigating the traffickers
across the nation. Other countries lack the human trafficking policy infrastructure of the USs.

Problem in China
China is a destination, source and transit country for children, women and men subjected
to sexual trafficking and forced labor (" A web," 1997). People are made
false promises of work and employment opportunities by human traffickers. Later, they are
forced into prostitution or compelled labor and moved to various countries worldwide. Well-
organized criminal institutions and various local gangs play vital roles in cross-border as well as
internal human trafficking. Besides this, children are also kidnapped and trafficked.
In china, human trafficking takes place for sexual exploitation, illegal adoption, forced
marriages, forced labor and begging. Lack of work and employment opportunities is the leading
factor that perpetuates human trafficking in China. The Chinese Government has formulated
various policies to eliminate cross-border and internal human trafficking across China and for the
protection of trafficking victims. China created local and nationwide hotlines for the reporting of
trafficking cases. The Government still requires significant changes in its policy to eradicate
human trafficking from China.

China Policy
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China has formulated various government laws to combat human trafficking.
China`s policies states that ("" ):
1. Anyone found humiliating a woman by force, coercion, violence or other means will be
sentenced to criminal detention or fixed-term imprisonment for a maximum of five years.
2. Anyone who molests a child will be given a more severe punishment than the preceding
3. Anyone who deprives someone of his freedom or detains a person by any means will be
sentenced to criminal detention, deprivation of political rights, and imprisonment for a
maximum of three years.
4. Anyone who commits the crime of the preceding point with the involvement of beating or
humiliation will be subject to a more severe punishment.

Problem in Malaysia
Malaysia is a source, destination and transit country for women, children and men
subjected to conditions of forced labor and sexual trafficking. Rural Malaysians are more
vulnerable to human trafficking than their urban counterparts. A large number of foreign women
are hired to work in Malaysian hotels and restaurants. Subsequently, they are forced into
Malaysia`s sex trade.
The most prominent factor for human trafficking in Malaysia is statelessness. Many
children remain stateless in Malaysia due to inadequate proof of their parent`s marriage. The
government denies access to healthcare, education and property-owning right to stateless people.
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This forces them to seek employment opportunities that are unofficial. Consequently, this puts
them at risk for human trafficking.
The Malaysian Government is putting in significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking
from its state. Although its current policies are not perfect, it strives towards improving them. It
provides awareness to the public on trafficking by formulating various public awareness

Malaysia Policy
Malaysia`s policy states:
1. Anyone who exports, imports, removes, sells, buys or disposes of someone as a slave
shall be punished for a fixed-term imprisonment for a maximum of seven years. He shall
also be accountable to fine.
2. Anyone who receives, detains or accepts any person against his will as a slave shall be
punished for a fixed-term imprisonment for a maximum of seven years. He shall also be
accountable to fine.
3. Anyone who forces any person unlawfully to work against his will, shall be punished
with a fixed-term imprisonment for a maximum of one year. He may also be liable to

Problem in Vietnam
Vietnam is a destination country as well as a source country for children, women and men
subjected to human trafficking and conditions of compelled labor. The vietnamese are trafficked
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for labor and sexual exploitation worldwide. Women and children are subjected to compelled
prostitution. Commonly, fraudulent labor misleads these people towards such crimes. The
Vietnamese are also enslaved for the purpose of begging and street hawking.
Indebtedness, poverty, lack of education/awareness, family problems and breakdowns
and external influences are the factors that contribute to human trafficking. Mostly girls and
women are considered for human trafficking in Vietnam due to gender inequality.
The Vietnamese government has passed several anti-trafficking laws. Its penal code penalizes
child trafficking and labor from two to seven years.

Vietnam Policy
Vietnam policy states:
1. Anyone who kidnaps, trades in or fraudulently exchanges a young person shall be subject
to a fixed-term imprisonment of minimum one year to a maximum of seven years.
2. If the offense is committed in professional criminality such as organized crime or child
smuggling, the criminal would be subjected to a fixed-term imprisonment of a minimum
of five years and a maximum of twenty years.

Social stigma, discrimination & societal prejudices
In these countries, society does not accept human trafficking victims. The society does
not bother to understand them and find out what they went through (Shelley, 2010). In Vietnam,
women who manage to escape forced marriages or sexual exploitation are generally rejected by
their husbands and partners. In China, most lawyers do not take the cases of victims of human
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traffickers. In Malaysia, victims of human traffickers find it to difficult to recover from the
psychological harassment they have faced. Society makes it difficult for them to reintegrate.

Impact of Social Perceptions

Perception of the problem by media and public
People from diverse backgrounds have distinct perceptions of human trafficking. People
view human trafficking based on values of their culture. Young women and men have a craze for
a better life. They are willing to do anything they can without looking at its consequences. Many
view human trafficking as a beneficial act and a step to eliminate poverty. People view human
trafficking as a shortcut to make quick money (Ngban, 2009). Women look at it as a money-
making venture. On the contrary, men look at it as an exploitation opportunity for human labor.
There are also people with the belief that human trafficking alleviates poverty. In this way, it is a
positive step. People living in urban areas are exposed to the realities of this world whereas their
rural counterparts are not. People belonging to rural areas do not see anything negative about
human trafficking. They merely see this act as a means of earning money quickly and living a
better life.
The media plays a vital role in educating and making people aware of the consequences
of human trafficking. They can present the issue of human trafficking to ordinary people and
emphasize the painful details of this act. The media coverage on the issue of human trafficking is
quite weak in most parts of the world, especially here in the United States. Media generally
confuses the issue of human trafficking with smuggling or illegal migration. Media has a vital
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role to play in activating the support of the public to combat trafficking (How the media reports
human trafficking, 2013). Media can illuminate the problem by providing articles or airing
segments on trafficking. It can also provide helpline numbers to the public. It can even disclose
the identities of traffickers to expose their realities to the world. Thereby, helping to prevent and
eradicate the issue of human trafficking.
How people and the media perceive the issue of human trafficking influences policy
development. All policy is developed with the purpose of safeguarding the rights of the people.
Human trafficking is an act that is perceived by various kinds of people from diverse
backgrounds. Therefore, the policy developers keep in view the perceptions of different societies
before finalizing the policies. They keep in view the good aspects and the bad aspects of the
subject before making policies on it.
The policies or services developed for human trafficking prove useful for people from all
age groups. Infants, young children and grownup adults benefit from these policies. Male and
females equally benefit from these policies. These services are not for a group of people
belonging to a specific religion. Rather, they are for people belonging to any religion. A state
formulates its human trafficking policy for all its citizens. The majority and the minority equally
benefit from it. A state does not allow the physically or mentally ill people to become victims of
human trafficking. Rather, it safeguards their rights as well and protects them from becoming
victims of trafficking.

Personal Belief
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Human trafficking can also be called modern-day slavery. In this type of slavery, people
exploit and control others. Well-organized institutes and individuals take advantage of poverty
and illiteracy of people and deceive them into doing the unlawful acts. People get false promises
from their owners regarding extra money. They do not look at the consequences associated with
human trafficking. Governments should have well-defined and updated policies to combat
human trafficking.

Cause of the problem
The main causes of the problem of human trafficking are poverty, illiteracy and
unemployment. People are made false-promised by their owners. They get trapped into the
traffickers net. Traffickers use force, coercion and other such elements to trap the people. These
people are forced to do compelled labors, sex trading or commercial sex acts. Human traffickers
get an enormous amount of money due to human trafficking. It is becoming a fast growing
business across the world.

Responsibility for help for human-trafficking victims
As a social worker we should be familiar with the various organizations and anti-
trafficking campaigns to prevent and bring to an end the issue of human trafficking. A few of
them are as follows:
1. A21 Campaign
A21 Campaign is a non-profit and non-governmental organization to combat human-
trafficking. Though the works of awareness and education beginning with our youth.
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2. California Agent Slavery
It is an organization for human rights. It strengthens the state laws of California to
safeguard the rights of sex trafficking victims.
3. Called to Rescue
It is a non-profit organization in Washington. It rescues minor children from human
trafficking, abuse and violence.
4. End Slavery Now
End-slavery Now is an anti-trafficking organization that is led by youth. This
organization is sponsored by the Centre of Korean Service.
5. Safe Horizon
Safe Horizon is an agency based in New York that provides assistance to victims of
various types of abuses.
6. Polaris Project
Polaris project is an organization based in Washington DC that works on all types of
human trafficking and serves its victims. Offering clinical social services and policy
7. Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Relief Services is an agency based in United States of the community of
Catholic. It is a humanitarian agency that is committed to the assistance of the poor
and vulnerable overseas.
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Various interest groups, professionals, advocacy groups and elected officials who actively
participate in the sharing of policies for human trafficking are also responsible for help of
human-trafficking victims.

Steps to overcome the issue
Steps to overcome the issue of human trafficking are as follows (
1. Various laws and policies should be formulated by the government of the state. These
policies should clearly state the issue of human trafficking as a crime. They should
also state the punishments for committing such crimes.
2. Raising awareness among the citizens to inform them of the crime of human
trafficking holds vital importance. People should be mobilized to eradicate human
3. The government should protect and support the victims of human trafficking. It
should ensure their counseling, housing, medical and psychological assistance.
4. The government should strengthen the exchange of information between agencies of
law enforcement on routes of international trafficking and profiles of traffickers. This
will help in the dismantling of criminal groups.

Value & Ethics
Social Workers have always worked hard for a peaceful and just world. Social workers
are taught to promote those policies that protect and safeguard the rights of people. These
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policies confirm social justice and equity for all people (Salett, 2006). Social workers can help in
the eradication of human trafficking by identifying the slavery and trafficking victims and
assisting them to get assistance by serving in the organizations which assist trafficking victims.
They can also work to make the public aware of the dangers associated with human trafficking to
prevent this act from occurring. Social workers are the ones who can become extremely strong
advocates for the victims of human trafficking.

Human-trafficking is a type of modernized slavery. It is a crime that is identified by
international laws. Majority of the states have policies in place for dealing with the issue of
human trafficking. Forced marriages, forced labor and sex trading are a few forms of human
trafficking. Poverty, illiteracy and unemployment are the driving force behind human trafficking.
People who are poor are false-promised by traffickers that they would be provided with a lot of
money if they become a part of activities related to human trafficking. Victims of human
trafficking are not accepted by the society. Media can play a crucial role by educating and
making people aware on this issue of human trafficking. Government along with social workers
needs to carry out steps to eradicate this devastating act from the society with policy change.
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