Human trafficking in Southeast Asia

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Human trafficking in Southeast Asia has long been a problem for the area and is still prevalent today. It has been observed that as economies continue to grow, the demand for labor is at an all-time high in the industrial sector and the sex tourism sector. A mix of impoverished individuals and the desire for more wealth creates an environment for human traffickers to benefit in the Southeast Asia region. Many nations within the region have taken preventive measures to end human trafficking within their borders and punish traffickers operating there.

Contents

Nature of the problem

Human trafficking, is defined by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in their Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons document as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the 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.” [1] This definition applies to harvesting of organs, slavery or forced labor, and sexual exploitation. According to an International Labour Organization (ILO) a report using a methodology based on national surveys reported, as recently as 2012, 20.9 million people were being held against their will in various forms of forced labor around the world. The majority of these laborers were women at 55% and males at 45%. [2] According to Besler, annual profits from industries specializing in forced labor have averaged 44.3 billion dollars in 2005. [3]

Beyond the scope Southeast Asia, the Asia-Pacific region contains the largest number of forced laborers anywhere in the world but only has a prevalence rate of 3.3 per 1000, which is one of the lower prevalence rates when compared by region. [2] This is due to the fact that the Asia-Pacific region has a much larger population when compared to the rest of the world's regions. In Southeast Asia human trafficking is widely regarded as interregional with laborers being collected from countries within the region and ultimately working within the region. Victims from Southeast Asia have also been found in many other countries around the globe. In Southeast Asia human trafficking consists of forced sexual labor and forced labor which, in many countries in Southeast Asia, can lead to mixed forms of human trafficking. In Thailand and Malaysia trafficking mainly takes the form of sexual exploitation, while in Indonesia forced labor is observed is more prevalent, but both forms of sexual and forced labor can be found. [4] It is estimated that 10,000 laborers are deceived or captured into forced labor annually in the region. [4]

Causes

The main causes of human trafficking in Southeast Asia are universal factors such as poverty and globalization. According to Betz, poverty is not the root of human trafficking and that there are other factors such as the desire to have access to upward mobility and knowledge on the wealth that can be gained from working in urban cities, that ultimately attracts impoverished individuals to human traffickers. [5] Betz claims the industrialization of the region in the mid 20th century led to a clear division between growing economies and stagnant ones. This industrialization of booming economies, like that of Thailand and Singapore created a draw for poor migrants seeking upward mobility and individuals wanting to leave war torn countries. [5] These migrants were an untapped resource in growing economies that had already exhausted the cheap labor from within its borders. A high supply of migrant workers seeking employment and high demand from an economy seeking cheap labor creates a perfect combination for human traffickers to thrive. Still in the new millennium the market for forced labor is profitable; class-divisions and the economies' need for unskilled labor keep traffickers in the market. [5]

The sex industry emerged in Southeast Asia in the mid 20th century as a way for women to generate more income for struggling migrants and locals trying to support families or themselves. Nicola Piper claims the industry's growth throughout the region can be attributed to growing tourism and military bases that dotted the region during times of major wars. Sex industries first catered to military personnel on leave from bases but as military installations began to recede the industry turned its attention to growing tourism. [6] With little intervention from governments due to potential harm to the tourism market, the sex industry's growth was uninhibited. [7] Even as the industry is looked down upon today there is still a large underground market that is demanding from traffickers. [8]

Source countries

Philippines is a source country and transit country when it comes to forced labor and sexual exploitation. Thailand is one of the biggest suppliers of forced labor in the Southeast Asia region and around the globe. [9] Most of the forced laborers are brought in from nearby Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Migrants voluntarily migrate into Thailand where they can end up in forced labor or sold into its own sex industry. [10]

Laos is labeled as a source country of men, women, and children for the sex slave industry and the forced labor industry. Many of the Lao migrants move to countries like Thailand or are sent to China from a transit country. [11] Lao migrants are mainly flowed into sectors of intensive labor with little pay. 70 percent of migrants from Laos are female and many of them are sought for the use of domestic labor. In Thailand there are no labor protection for domestic workers, which can lead to risks for the migrant Lao females. [12]

Cambodia is a source country for migrants due to high levels of unemployment and poverty. This leaves natives with little opportunity and high levels of risk for human trafficking. Many Cambodian women are trafficked into sexual or labor industries, while men are trafficked into the fishing, agricultural and construction sectors in many countries within the Southeast Asian region. [12]

Myanmar's history of rule under a military regime is one of the reasons the country is considered a source country. The regime's poor management of the economy and human rights abuse put the countries citizens at risk for human trafficking. Men, women and children are subject to labor exploitation in Thailand, China, Pakistan, South Korea and Macau. [11] Children are trafficked in Thailand to be forced into begging, while young girls are trafficked into China to work in the sex slave industry. [13]

Destination countries

Philippines is a destination country in addition to being source country. Migrants from several countries looking for work are attracted to Thailand's promising economy. Thailand's economy also heavily relies on migrant workers due to the fact that it is strongly labor-intensive, with major sectors being construction, fishing and commercial agriculture. [10]

Cambodia is a destination country for females being trafficked into the sex trade industry. Cambodia has one of the largest sources of demand for child prostitution and sex tourism in the region. Females are brought from rural regions of Cambodia and Vietnam to major cities where they are sold or sexually exploited. [14]

Vietnam is a destination country for children who are subjected to forced sexual labor and labor trafficking. Children from rural areas of the country are brought into major cities where through threats and debt-bondage are forced into the sex trade, begging industry, and industrial sectors. With Vietnam being a destination for child sex tourism, the large demand gives traffickers incentives to recruit children into the trade. [10]

Victims

Most of the victims that are currently working under forced labor conditions are doing so because they were either mislead about job opportunities or were enslaved or forced to against their will. [10] According to a policy brief on human trafficking in Southeast Asia, although victims include girls, women, boys, and men the majority are women. Women tend to be more highly targeted by traffickers due to the fact that they are seeking opportunity in an area of the world where limited economic opportunities are available for them. Unskilled and poorly educated women are commonly led into human trafficking. [12] According to the UNODC report, the numbers for women and men in forced labor may be skewed due to the fact that only a few countries released the numbers for adult men. The forced labor market in this region also is dominated by male adults and females while the trade of children is evident it is considered small in comparison to the total. Most of these workers are undocumented and from different countries of origin than the country they work in. Countries like Thailand and Laos attract migrants of similar cultural backgrounds and language. Ethnic majority migrants from Laos are attracted to the similarities between the two countries and migrate to Thailand where they can assimilate easily. [10] The combination of undocumented workers and similar cultures can cause problems for authorities to properly document and estimate the number of trafficked persons without confusing them for illegal immigrants and locals. [4]

Traffickers

Three countries provided data showing that in Southeast Asia more women are prosecuted than men for crimes in human trafficking. The data also show that the participation rates among females in the trafficking business is trending equal to or higher than males. Traffickers in Southeast Asia are of both genders but in this region female proportions are higher than that of ones in the Americas or in Africa. Japan reported that traffickers of foreign nationalities have been increasing over the past several years. In 2006 up until 2009, 7 percent of persons convicted were foreign nationals while in 2009 that number had risen to 23 percent. [4]

Prevention policies

The United Nations (UN) has released guidelines on how human trafficking can be prevented on an international scale. According to the guidelines nations should identify demand as a major cause for trafficking to exist. It is also recommended that poverty, inequality and discrimination be examined as these factors, depending on prevalence, can lead to trafficking. [15] According to a report on human trafficking prevention, it is recommended that it is the government's job to improve the options that are available to its citizens and migrants through various programs that will lead to an overall improved life. Education on various opportunities and the many dangers of migrating through the help of human traffickers. Governments can also help by increasing law enforcement against traffickers to meet legal obligations and by providing proper identification to all citizens. [16]

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (sometimes referred to as the Trafficking Protocol) was created by the UN in order to help nations with human trafficking issues. Its main purposes are to create a guideline to initiate measures to prevent and combat human trafficking within the countries borders. The protocol is also used for the assistance and protection of the victims associated with human trafficking, while also creating cooperation between the parties of the state. [17] All nations within Southeast Asia have signed and ratified this protocol. The most recent country to ratify the protocol is Thailand, in 2013. [18]

The United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is an agreement that aims to make connections between human rights and migrant workers as well as their families. The agreement stresses the importance of migrant labor and the recognition that should be rewarded to the migrant worker, also arguing that the migrant worker is subject to equality and protection. [19] This agreement has yet to be signed by many nations in Southeast Asia but there are a few that have signed and ratified the agreement like Indonesia and the Philippines and Cambodia which is yet to ratify. [12]

Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act are laws passed by many countries in Southeast Asia to prevent traffickers from using abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power and giving or receiving money to obtain consent from the individual for control over them as a means for the recruitment, transportation, harboring of individuals by means of force or threats, sale, lending and hiring of an individual with or without their consent. [20] Countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia all have their own Anti-Trafficking in Person Acts that are used to prevent human trafficking and prosecute those who violate this act. [21]

Related Research Articles

Sex trafficking Trade of sexual slaves

Sex trafficking is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery, which is considered a form of modern slavery. A victim is forced, in one of a variety of ways, into a situation of dependency on their trafficker(s) and then used by the trafficker(s) to perform sexual services to customers. Sex trafficking crimes can involve acquisition, transportation and exploitation; this includes child sex tourism (CST), domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) or other kinds of commercial sexual exploitation of children, and prostitution.

"Thailand is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking."Thailand's relative prosperity attracts migrants from neighboring countries who flee conditions of poverty and, in the case of Burma, military repression. Significant illegal migration to Thailand presents traffickers with opportunities to coerce or defraud undocumented migrants into involuntary servitude or sexual exploitation. U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons placed the country in "Tier 2" in 2019.

Vietnam is primarily a source country for women and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children are trafficked to the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C), Cambodia, Thailand, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Macau for sexual exploitation. Vietnamese women are trafficked to the P.R.C., Taiwan, and the Republic of Korea via fraudulent or misrepresented marriages for commercial exploitation or forced labor. Vietnam is also a source country for men and women who migrate willingly and legally for work in the construction, fishing, or manufacturing sectors in Malaysia, Taiwan, P.R.C., Thailand, and the Middle East but subsequently face conditions of forced labor or debt bondage. Vietnam is a destination country for Cambodian children trafficked to urban centers for forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Vietnam has an internal trafficking problem with women and children from rural areas trafficked to urban centers for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Vietnam is increasingly a destination for child sex tourism, with perpetrators from Japan, the Republic of Korea, the P.R.C., Taiwan, the UK, Australia, Europe, and the U.S. In 2007, an Australian non-governmental organization (NGO) uncovered 80 cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children by foreign tourists in the Sa Pa tourist area of Vietnam alone.

Human trafficking Trade of humans for the first book of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation

Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. This may encompass providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage, or the extraction of organs or tissues, including for surrogacy and ova removal. Human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally. Human trafficking is a crime against the person because of the violation of the victim's rights of movement through coercion and because of their commercial exploitation. Human trafficking is the trade in people, especially women and children, and does not necessarily involve the movement of the person from one place to another.

Human trafficking in Japan

According to the United States' State Department, Japan is a major destination, source, and transit country for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Victims of human trafficking include male and female migrant workers, women and children lured to Japan by fraudulent marriages and forced into prostitution, as well as Japanese nationals, "particularly runaway teenage girls and foreign-born children of Japanese citizens who acquired nationality." According to the 2014 U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report, "The Government of Japan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so."

Laos is primarily a source country for women and girls trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and labor exploitation as domestics or factory workers in Thailand. Some Lao men, women, and children migrate to neighboring countries in search of better economic opportunities but are subjected to conditions of forced or bonded labor or forced prostitution after arrival. Some Lao men who migrate willingly to Thailand are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in the Thai fishing and construction industry. To a lesser extent Laos is a country of transit for Vietnamese, Chinese and Burmese women destined for Thailand. Laos’ potential as a transit country is on the rise with the construction of new highways linking the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia through Laos. Internal trafficking is also a problem that affects young women and girls who are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation in urban areas.

Transnational efforts to prevent human trafficking are being made to prevent human trafficking in specific countries and around the world.

Sex trafficking in Thailand is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the Kingdom of Thailand. Thailand is a country of origin, destination and transit for sex trafficking. Child prostitution in Thailand is a problem.

Bangladesh is a source and transit city's for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and forced prostitution. A significant share of Bangladesh's trafficking victims are men recruited for work overseas with fraudulent employment offers who are subsequently exploited under conditions of forced labor or debt bondage. Children – both boys and girls – are trafficked within Bangladesh for commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labor, and forced labor. Some children are sold into bondage by their parents, while others are induced into labor or commercial sexual exploitation through fraud and physical coercion. Women and children from Bangladesh are also trafficked to India for commercial sexual exploitation.

Human trafficking in Nepal is a growing criminal industry affecting multiple other countries beyond Nepal, primarily across Asia and the Middle East. Nepal is mainly a source country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons placed the country in "Tier 2" in 2017.

Greece is a transit, source and destination country for women and children who are subjected to human trafficking, specifically forced prostitution and conditions of forced labor for men, women, and children. Female sex trafficking victims originate primarily in Eastern Europe and former Soviet bloc countries. Traffickers use physical, emotional, and sexual abuse for coercion. Greece's European Union membership, coupled with a shared border with Turkey, means the country sees massive flows of illegal immigrants looking to enter the EU. Traffickers also use Greece not only as a destination but also as transit stop and also as a source country where evan Greek women are prostituted on the way to Western Europe.

Human trafficking is an act of recruiting, transporting, and harboring people against their will; usually by using force. People who are trafficked are mostly used for sexual purposes or illegal work. These acts include: forced marriages, trafficking for human organs, and gaining members for organized crimes. Every country in the world deals with this crime, and are usually classified as transit countries, target countries, or source countries. Guatemala is a part of North America, which is a target country; this means they contain human trafficking victims.

Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. Mexico is a large source, transit, and destination country for victims of human trafficking.

Human trafficking in China

China is a main source and also a significant transit and destination country for men, women, and children who are subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labour and forced prostitution. Women and children from China are trafficked to Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America, predominantly Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. Women and children from Myanmar, Vietnam, Mongolia, former USSR, North Korea, Romania, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Ghana are trafficked to China for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour.

Human trafficking in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a source, transit, and destination country for goods and products, a great location for trade in the seas. Costa Rica is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea making it a source of imports and exports. Costa Rica is approximately 19,653 square miles of land, making it smaller than West Virginia. To a lesser but increasing extent, Costa Rica is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to conditions of forced labor, particularly in the agriculture, construction, fishing, and domestic service sectors. The economy greatly depends on the exportation of bananas and coffee, making high demands of agriculture work. Costa Rican women and children are forced into commercial sexual exploitation due to high rates of poverty and violence. Women and girls from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Colombia, and Panama have been identified in as victims of forced prostitution. Child sex tourism is a serious problem, particularly in the provinces of Guanacaste, Limon, Puntarenas, and San José. Child sex tourists arrive mostly from the United States and Europe. Young men from Nicaragua, Vietnam, China and other Asian countries are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Costa Rica. Adults have been identified using trafficked women and children to transport and sell drugs. Neighboring countries and cities are victims as well to forced labor many times trafficked to Costa Rica.

Human trafficking in the Middle East

The trafficking of persons is the fastest growing and most profitable criminal activity after drug and arms trafficking. According to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, human trafficking is defined as follows: “Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the 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 labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

Human trafficking in Texas

Human trafficking in Texas is the illegal trade of human beings as it occurs in the state of Texas. It is a modern-day form of slavery and usually involves commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor, both domestic and agricultural.

Human Trafficking or "trafficking in persons" is the recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for mainly the purposes of forced labor or prostitution. However, other reasons for human trafficking is for the removal of organs, forced marriage, and other exploitations. South America is one of the biggest source and destination locations in the world and has struggled with the issue for many years. The ILO estimates that of the 20.9 million victims of human trafficking in 2012, 1.8 million were from Latin America. There are many factors that cause human trafficking, like a high demand for domestic servants, sex laborers, and factory workers, the existence of already established trafficking networks that often take advantage of young women and children, corruption in the governments and local law enforcement agencies, a governmental disinterest in the issue and a lack of opportunity for women in South American regions where trafficking occurs. People who are typically exploited in human trafficking are impoverished, a member of an indigenous people, unemployed, victim of some kind of abuse, illiterate, substance users, is homeless and/or associated to gang activity. Research done by United States Department of State has also stated that there is a vulnerability for the LGBTQ+ and transgender people to be caught up in human trafficking. By far, sex trafficking is the leading type of human trafficking, making up 79 percent of all human trafficking. This is then followed by forced labor at 18 percent. About 20 percent of trafficking victims are children. Primary destinations for trafficking and illegal immigration are the United States, Spain, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Canada. Globalization, capitalism and societal attitudes facilitates and reduces the barriers to human trafficking in the world today.

Sex trafficking in China is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery that occurs in the People's Republic of China. China, the world's most populous country, has one of the highest rates of human trafficking, including sex trafficking, in the world. It is a country of origin, destination, and transit for sexually trafficked persons.

References

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