Human Trafficking, is the third largest crime industry in the world, Human Trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. Human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally as well. Human trafficking is the trade of people and especially women and children. The trafficked people are held against their will through coercion, and are forced to work for the people who they are sold to or others. The work or services may also include anything from a forced labour to sexual exploitation. The International Labour Organization has estimated that annual profits from forced labour is to be at least at a sum of $150 billion. Trafficking can primarily be classified into two forms –
- Forced Labor Trafficking – It is the labour which occurs when individuals are compelled against their own will and are forced to work through the use of force, fraud or coercion. According to the International Labour Organization an estimated 24 million people around the globe were forced into labour. The traffickers do not discriminate between the victims as the victims can be of any age, religion, cast, gender or nationality.
- Sex Trafficking – It is a form of slavery which affects public health problem that negatively affects the being of individuals, families and communities. In Sex Trafficking the type of violence exploits women, men and children across the world.
Ever since the use of the internet has increased it has unfortunately increased in the number of victims as well for Human Trafficking, in the year 2018, 45% of the victims had met the trafficker in person as for the remaining 55% had encountered the trafficker through social media sites, in the year 2020 when the Covid19 struck the world there was also a spike in the Human Trafficking cases as the according to the Geneva-based committee many countries saw an increase in Trafficking in Cyberspace as Countries such as India, China and Pakistan which hold the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rank for Human Trafficking showed an increase in Trafficking, The main category of the use of technology in trafficking is identifying, locating, enticing, and recruiting new victims into trafficking and then helping to control the victims once they have been trafficked. This may take the form of using social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, and others, or using direct communications tools like email, instant messaging, and text messages Human trafficking has increased in a tremednous manner as it helps criminals as the trafficker is able to get away easily. With the help of the internet, the trafficker has been able to target victims that are mostly minors, the Polaris has reported that 27% victims of the trafficking are minors and only 8.8% are only adults and 30% of victims were recruited online and since then the number in trafficking has increased up to 41% and in the last 3 years only online platforms such as Facebook and Instagram has shown an increase of 200% in human trafficking through social media sites as Facebook accounting for 125% and Instagram responsible for the rest 75%. The links between the Internet and recruitment of victims for trafficking can take several forms such as –
Victims may fall prey to traffickers via web sites and other Internet services. Victims are deceived by fake advertisements such as for domestic work; waitress/bartender; au pair/care; modelling, etc. or forced to produce pornographic material (the Internet is mainly used for the dissemination of the pornographic material, but it can also contribute to the production of material if a web camera is used. For instance, a child or a young woman can be lured through a chat‐ room and then forced to pose naked on‐line or be exploited sexually. Although the victim may be recruited either traditionally or through Internet but he/she can be forced to make virtual sex with a client. Many studies such as in countries in Europe have suggested that the Internet and mobile phones are used to recruit victims. In countries like Canada and USA, various studies have shown that most victims who are recruited through Internet are mostly recrioted for sexual exploitation.
Human Trafficking and Anti-cyber Crime
Whenever a Trafficker starts to use the internet or cyberspace as a tool, trafficking can be considered as a cybercrime and it falls under the scope of legal texts addressing cybercrimes. Web surfing and on how users can be protected from being implicated either as potential victim or as client using the Internet. Programs that detect pedophile activities could be also adapted to prevent forms of trafficking related to the Internet. For prevention efforts to be effective, it has to be understood that trafficking is not only a problem of the States but it concerns societies and citizens worldwide. Only with a collective confrontation of the problem can this phenomenon be prevented. For this reason, raising awareness of the media and civil society is an important tool to prevent Internet related trafficking (in countries of origin and in countries of destination so as to reduce the demand that fosters exploitation). Also cooperation can be an effective tool from government and non‐governmental organizations as well as the private sector for the prevention of persons at risk; and for the prevention of re‐trafficking and re‐victimization.
There have been various measures taken at international level as well to stop Human Trafficking such as-:
Virtual Global Taskforce 55 (VGT) which is an international partnership of law enforcement agencies, which was established in 2003 to fight online child abuse. It comprises the Australian High Tech Crime Centre, the United Kingdom’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities, the Italian law‐ enforcement authorities, the New Zealand Police, the Ministry of Interior of the United Arab Emirates, Europol and Interpol. VGT could expand its mandate to serve for combating the recruitment of victims for all forms of trafficking in persons. In the framework of Europol the Analytical Work File (AWF) has been set up in 2001 to help participating member states to prevent and combat the activities of criminal networks involved in the production, sale or distribution of Children for Child labour or for child pornography, so far it has been successful in a significant manner. In Poland the NGO ‘La Strada’ has developed an Internet web site to provide advice for people going abroad to work. They also monitor Internet forums containing suspect job offers. In the United Kingdom the NGO “Safe Modelling” has set up such a site, which gives detailed advice on avoiding fake agencies.
The use of the Internet has transformed and sadly facilitated victim-trafficker relationships. On the internet the confrontation between them is invisible as the victim does not know the identity of the offender and because of that the victimization has become more insidious and because of the “invisible threat” is able to create more countless victims. In today’s globalized era, it is not enough to move at a level of horizontal action to tackle crime because it is unrealistic. The challenge we face today is that we should respond to globalized crime with universal legislation, otherwise all attempts will stay fragmentary and we will not be able to escape from this huge spider’s Web that generates daily more and more victims. However, together with a universal legislation we need a uniform technological infrastructure at global level that would allow a joint system of communications setting for the rapid intervention of the prosecuting authorities on location and identification of the perpetrators and the preservation of evidence, as well as a strong international cooperation
Author – Mr. Anuj Dhyani, Intern, CyberPeace Foundation
Reviewed – Mr. Abhishek Singh, Research Associate, CyberPeace Foundation