Subject Material

Human Trafficking

Published: 09.02.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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Human Trafficking

The American poet and thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882) was a strong critic of American slavery. He witnessed the abolishment of slavery in America in 1865. What can we learn from his statement below?

"I do not see how a barbarous community and a civilized community can constitute a state. I think we must get rid of slavery or we must get rid of freedom."

The roots of slavery reach as far back as history itself. There were slaves in the time of the Egyptian pharoes, Greek philosophers and Roman emperors. The forced migration of 12 million Africans to the New World between the 17th and the 19th centuries is another grim chapter in the history of slavery.

Sex Slaves.photo.Sex Slaves  Human trafficking is slavery in a modern form. When a human being is lured or forced into leaving their home (often being relocated to a different country) and made to work under slavelike conditions - for example in domestic or sexual servitude (as a maid or sex worker), their freedom taken away - then that person has become a slave. By human trafficking we understand the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation or forced labour (Wikipedia).

Consider the case of Gun, a young woman from Thailand, who was forced to serve as a sex worker in Japan:

"It is impossible to describe how horrible and miserable my life was. For six and a half months, I was totally controlled by her. Every day I had to go out and sleep with men. I had no physical or spiritual freedom. She threatened that wherever I escaped to, I would be traced and killed and so would my parents in Thailand.What I did was the only way to set me free from her. There was no other alternative.

I was told by an acquaintance to work at his restaurant in Japan. I decided to accept his offer as I thought my family might improve their life if I sent them my salary. Soon after my arrival in Japan, I realized that I was sold. My life since then has been like that of an animal.
I was sold three times. I begged my last owner to let me go home but she said I owed her lots of money that I had to pay back by sleeping with customers. I was always scolded and forced to do all kinds of terrible things." (Source: captivedaughters.org)

Tasks and Activites

Comprehension

  1. Why is human trafficking considered a form of slavery?
  2. How did Gun become a victim of human trafficking?
  3. How did Gun's captors threaten her into staying?

Speaking Exercise - Choose One

  1. Retell Gun's story in your own words. You can choose the first person "I" or the third person "she".
  2. Imagine that Gun has been set free, and make up a dialogue between Gun and a social worker in which she tells about what happened to her, and act it out.

Research

Unfortunately, Gun's story is all too typical.Trafficking in human beings is a crime on a global scale, on par with arms trafficking and the illegal drug trade. Do some research and find statistics that show

  • how many people fall victim to traffickers each year
  • what percent of these people end up in the illegal sex industry.

Further Study

There is a video/task under "Related content" below for further study (sex slaves). This video may be a bit disturbing to watch. However it is important to understand the level of cold blooded cruelty in this trade. There is no graphic abuse in this video - but images of children being sold.

Further Reading 

Man goes undercover to combat child sex slavery  

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