Human Trafficking: A Neoliberal Problem Requiring a Neoliberal Solution There are many different meanings to the term globalization, yet the constant throughout each meaning is the fact that globalization creates interconnectedness among citizens of the world that has not been experienced at such levels previously. Globalization as a theory is often applauded because it allows for a diffusion of knowledge as well as an increase in opportunities for most people. It does indeed create vast amounts of opportunities for both genders, yet it is biased to developed and industrialized nations.
Globalization is hugely discriminatory against unskilled workers, most prominently women and children. In most countries, women bear the majority of the burdens created by globalization. Women and children are more adversely affected by globalization than men, as this segment faces less social equality. One institution in which this is directly depicted is that of human trafficking. Human trafficking is one of the oldest trades known to man. The rising interconnectedness of the world has created a trade that is impossible to put a stop to.
Human trafficking has proliferated in recent years to become a neoliberal concept. Neoliberalism has created a situation in which women and children have become a commodity, thus causing an explosive rise of the human trade throughout the world that is virtually impossible to stop. Human trafficking is the forceful trade of human beings around the world through means of force, fraud, and deception (Human Trafficking, 2011). Human trafficking is no longer a crime present only in Asia and Eastern Europe.
It has become the worlds fastest growing criminal activity, and exists in nearly every country (Human Trafficking, 2011). There are typically supplier countries, and target countries, however both forms of trafficking occur throughout the world (Human Trafficking, 2011). Human trafficking is often thought of as a sex trade, yet many people are also exploited for indentured servitude in often unsanitary and grueling conditions. Human trafficking is currently tied for the position second largest criminal activity in the world, with estimated revenue to be between 5 and $15 billion dollars, which is more than most major global corporations earn yearly (Human Trafficking Statistics, 2007). 80% of trafficked victims are female, and 50% of victims are children (Human Trafficking Statistics, 2007). Major reasons for this is the fact that both women and children are most vulnerable in developing nations, and are coerced into trafficking as a means of providing an income for themselves and their families. Globalization has given rise to human trafficking due to the fact that globalization has forced people to find ways to improve their economic situation.
Often, people are deceived into being trafficked under the pretense of finding better pay in another country, or in different cities in their own country. Neoliberalism opens markets, promotes an increase in trade among countries, and thus creates a free flow of goods, both legal and illegal (Ritzer and Atalay, 102). David Harvey suggests that neoliberalism became a force as a result of the second world in order to restructure transnational relations (Ritzer and Atalay, 103). It is true that neoliberalism is a relatively new force, as it is unrecognized by many uneducated people, and is a term that is not yet even in the dictionary.
As relations have been created and strengthened, the desire for cheap labor has expanded. Rich nations now turn to developing nations to produce their goods at a low cost, which is a phenomenon of the past sixty or so years. Nations also turn to poor nations for prostitutes, who there are easier to come by, less likely to be missed due to weaker police forces, and mostly unaware of the situations that they will ultimately face. The fact that neoliberalism is both a social and economic philosophy encourages a sharing of resources among different countries.
After World War II, many people throughout the world turned to neoliberalism in order to battle rising rates of unemployment and inflation. Females who are deceived into being trafficked often do so in order to become employed. Through its offering of better opportunities, neoliberalism promotes a breeding ground for human trafficking. In her well-informed discussion of neoliberalism, Sarah Baab discusses how neoliberalism does not affect poor countries as much as it does wealthy countries. She states, “Most global trade and foreign direct investment occur among wealthy countries, rather than between wealthy and poor nations.
Wealth and power continue to have their privileges, although there is no doubt that some of these privileges have been eroded for non-elites in developed countries” (Ritzer and Atalay, 131). Baab is correct when considering the legal trade that occurs in vast amounts due to neoliberalism. Her flaw in her argument is that she fails to take into account the illegal trades that thrive due to neoliberalism, at times producing the majority of wealth for developing countries. Drug trafficking, sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and the smuggling of illegal goods occur between all countries, not just the rich and the poor.
In fact, the wealthier states are making developing countries richer, and thus more powerful through their importation of goods such as illegal drugs and human beings. There is a huge risk for society associated with a country gaining its wealth through something as despicable as the trade of a human being. Globalization creates this desire among humans in which people wish to improve their social standing through increasing their earnings. This pushes many females, who are often unskilled, to search for ways in which they can earn more money for themselves and their families.
They are often lured by sex traffickers, who promise a luxurious lifestyle in an exotic location. Human trafficking can be considered a form of modern day slavery by some, as victims are brutalized, held against their own will, and forced into labor, be it physical labor or sexual humiliation. If human trafficking is to be viewed as slavery, then it can be said that there are currently hundreds of thousands of slaves present in the United States (Human Trafficking, 2011). However, the fact that human trafficking has no specific race or target demographic means that it is a broad issue not widely covered by the media.
If victims all came from one area, then trafficking would be easier to prevent. However, human trafficking is a transnational problem. Victims come from all over the world, are transported around the globe, and often go unreported as missing. Human trafficking is a humanitarian crisis, yet the majority of people in developed nations tend to turn their heads because they view it as a crime that only occurs in poor, developing nations. Globalization is the term used to describe the process in which countries become connected through the process of free trade, free flow of capital, and cheaper foreign labor markets.
Human trafficking, when viewed as a commodity, can fall under the category of both free trade as well as cheaper foreign markets. Global factors that have led to the increase in this trade are both war and militarism, as some of the most highly involved countries in the human trade have experienced war in recent years (Human Trafficking, 2011). Trafficking has not been as widely publicized in recent years due to other global issues, such as the financial collapse of 2007 or the war in Iraq. Globalization reduces borders, promotes free trade, increases transportation, and facilitates global communication.
Each of these factors creates the ideal environment for the illegal trade of humans. Due to globalization, many developing countries experience an increased demand for cheap labor. The arms trade has been a threat to the security of nations, however human trafficking can also be viewed as a threat, as nations with few regulations in this lucrative and illegal industry may grow in both power and wealth. The unethical treatment of humans as slaves will lead to a world in which the most powerful nations are those who can provide sexual favors for the lowest price.
Sexual exploitation among trafficked people creates a situation in which women and children are highly vulnerable to violence, sexually transmitted diseases, as well as HIV/AIDS (Human Trafficking, 2011). Globalization has created equal opportunities for criminals as it has for the average citizen. As much as globalization promotes the spread of knowledge throughout the world, it also promotes crime, corruption, and the spread of disease. Trafficking is one of the most difficult crimes to prosecute due to the fact that it is an illegal global trade, and thus crosses many borders.
Sex trafficking is clearly a transnational organization. Thus, the fight against sex trafficking has also become a transnational organization. However, it is difficult to fight an organization when there is no single leader for police agencies to target. Victims of human trafficking are often unable to come forward to authorities for a number of reasons. They may be afraid to come forward at the risk of being deported and subject to additional violence and poverty. They are also unable to come forward due to language barriers.
Victims of trafficking are virtually isolated from civilization outside of their forced labor or forced sexual exploitation, and are unaware of the fact that they can go to police and report crimes against them. In some of the worst cases, victims of trafficking are unaware of any other way of life, and are psychologically brainwashed to think that their situation is that of normalcy. Additionally, the problem of human trafficking has little awareness in comparison to other illegal activities, which makes it difficult to legislate laws in order to reduce and prevent human trafficking.
Many victims face deportation if they come forward and report violence against them. In 2002, the U. S. Attorney General signed into legislation the “T” visa program, which granted a visa to victims of trafficking in return for aiding the prosecution in cases against criminals (U. S. Department of Homeland Security, 2011). One U. S. federal agency recently filed a lawsuit over the unequal treatment of migrant workers that legally entered the country. The workers were brought to the U. S. n order to harvest crops at minimum wage, however they have been forced to live in inhumane conditions while paying high recruitment fees, leading these immigrants to be classified as indentured servants by the EEOC (Al Jazeera, 2011). This example shows how criminals are finding loopholes in laws against human trafficking, which only proliferates the problem itself. It is already difficult to battle trafficking when it occurs within a single country’s borders due to the taboo nature of the crime.
It is exponentially more difficult to battle when trafficking becomes transnational, as there is no single organization available to protect against trafficking. In 2003, a trafficking protocol was enacted by the U. N. , which created an agreement among 117 countries on the proper definition of human trafficking (Human Trafficking, 2011). This protocol is a legally binding instrument, however it does not provide any set standards for prosecution of criminals involved in human trafficking. It is also difficult to prosecute trafficking criminals when they cross a number of national borders.
Often, there is a lack of substantial evidence as well as an unwillingness of victims to come forward, and criminals are free to continue trafficking. It is difficult to fight this specific transnational crime due to its clandestine nature. Globalization not only increased human trafficking, but also has made it more difficult to prosecute due to increasing technology and knowledge. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar organization, and thus has more resources than any organization created to fight it.
The United States has a number of organizations working together to battle trafficking domestically. The State Department, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, as well as a number of other organizations play key roles in anti trafficking efforts. The President of the U. S. is authorized to impose sanctions against countries that do not meet minimum standards created by the trafficking protocol (Wagley, 2006). The U. S. government has authorized nearly $200 million annually in the past to battle domestic trafficking (Wagley, 2006).
This number is clearly not significant enough to battle a multi-billion dollar industry. There is no governing body for the whole world. There are institutions that fight human trafficking throughout the world, such as amnesty international, however no one institution has the global resources or funds to battle this multi billion dollar institution composed of clandestine players. Due to the proliferation of globalization, women continue to be subject to increasing amounts of violence, sexual abuse. Victims of human trafficking are essentially stripped of their basic human rights.
Globalization has contradicted the women’s rights movements in a number of different ways. As women in higher social standing experience increasing levels of social equality, women of low social classes are subject to degradation and harsh working conditions. Why is progress made in one area, whereas it is reverted in another? One factor that has led to women being subjected to the cruelty of human trafficking is the implementation of structural adjustment programs, which has forced many women and children into the unorganized work sector and deprived each segment of their basic human rights.
Globalization has created an increasing problem of illegal immigration throughout the world. One reason for this is the rise of human trafficking. Victims are often brought into a country illegally, and earn little to no living wage, while pimps earn millions of tax-free dollars. Human trafficking is a factor that has led to the current global risk society, and has multiplied in the time of modernity. It is a clear violation of human rights that leads to an unethical society, both through the practice itself, as well as the fact that people turn their heads to this cruel and inhumane crime.
The theory of globalization clearly has its advantages in the time of modernity, as it allows the diffusion of knowledge, the ease of transport, the rise and trade, and the increase in overall societal conditions. As has been discussed, these advantages are contradicted by practices of globalization that lower the human condition, such as human trafficking. The major problem with human trafficking is that people are not aware that it is a neoliberal problem. Human trafficking is no longer a crime of developing nations.
It has become a multi billion-dollar industry that has spread through all countries throughout the world. Interconnectedness is a wonderful theory when it promotes free trade, however this interconnectedness has created a criminal activity in which there is no foreseeable end in sight. Bibliography: Al Jazeera. “Workers Brought into US and ‘exploited’ – Americas – Al Jazeera English. ” Al Jazeera English. 21 Apr. 2011. Web. 1 May 2011. . “Globalization. ” Dictionary and Thesaurus. Merriam-Webster, 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. . “Human Trafficking. ” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
United Nations, 2011. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. . “Human Trafficking Statistics. ” Polaris Project, 2007. Web. 1 May 2011. . Ritzer, George, and Zeynep Atalay. Readings in Globalization. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell 2010. Print. “Victims of Human Trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status. ” U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. U. S. Department of Homeland Security, 8 Apr. 2011. Web. 5 May 2011. . Wagley, John R. “Transnational Organized Crime: Principal Threats and U. S. Responses. ” CRS Report for Congress. The Library of Congress, 20 Mar. 2006. Web. 1 May 2011. .