Monday, June 22, 2015
The Proliferation of Sex and Human Trafficking in the Americas
Just how involved and engaged are governments in the Western Hemisphere in interdicting
human trafficking for sexual purposes, and is it an issue that requires critical focus among other world problems?
alone is reported to be the third largest illicit industry in Latin America, following drug and arms trafficking.
Trafficking in humans includes, but is not limited to, those trafficked for forced labor, prostitution, other elements
of sexual exploitation, the harvesting of human organs, and related acts of human servitude.
for sexual exploitation, is an enormously high profit industry when it comes to pornography, online sex, stripping, commercial
sex work, sex shows, as well as marriage for the purpose of sexual servitude.
In contrast, the
term "people smuggling" shares a difference from the term human trafficking that has been described as voluntary,
covert transport from one location or country to another. In most situations, there may not be any deception involved in this
agreement. Freedom for the smuggled parties to continue on their way according to the agreed upon terms and destination is
The US Department of Justice reports that "eight in ten human trafficking cases involve
the sex industry; the others involve labor trafficking." Annually, human trafficking worldwide is estimated to be around
US$40 billion at a minimum.
Human trafficking represented an estimated $31.6 billion of international trade per annum in 2010. The economics of the illicit
sex industry and underground sex market just in the U.S. reveals each of eight U.S. cities generates between $40 million to almost $300 million a year.
It should be no
surprise to anyone that transnational organized criminal organizations find human trafficking to be extremely lucrative and
one of their fastest growing activities for massive revenue.
The United Nations as far back as 2008 estimated nearly 2.5
million people from 127 different countries were being trafficked into 137 countries around the world.
And, even as far back as 2006 the numbers of those trafficked
for sexual exploitation numbered approximately 800,000, according to U.S. Government sponsored research. This figure did not
include "millions trafficked within their own countries." Approximately 80 percent of transnational victims are
women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors. Moreover, these numbers do not include "millions of both males and
females globally who are trafficked within their own national borders – the majority for forced or bonded labor."
For clarification, a person working in the sex industry can be identified as a victim of human trafficking if they
are trapped in servitude for the purposes of prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation. For the purposes of sexual
exploitation, traffickers work to supply the demand for prostitution, other forms of sexual practices and "entertainment."
In Latin America, as well as many other parts of the world, problems associated with poverty contribute significantly
to sexual exploitation. Lack of policing infrastructure, as well as corruption in government and weak legislation, contribute
enormously to the problems.
Drug trafficking is a major element of the hedonistic demand that spawns the illegal traffic in sex slavery. It is a societal demand for products and services that generate
or enhance the pleasure of the individual that is also rapidly growing in South America.
Argentina is now the second largest domestic market for cocaine. And, that demand has
brought a secondary ruin to that country because it is now a focal point for recruiting people into the illicit sex trade.
Argentina is a major source and destination point
for men, women and children in the forced labor and sex trade, according to the U.S. State Department. The report states that
victims forced into the sex trade are recruited in northern provinces along the Chilean border and then transported to wealthy
provinces in central and southern Argentina. Sex traffickers are snatching women and children from Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay
for sex trade work in Argentina.
Argentina, though, is but one stopping
point for individuals forced into the sex trade. It’s from Argentina that captive women and children are shipped to
countries like Chile, Brazil, Mexico, the U.S., and Western Europe. Argentina has become the main trading port for the sexual
exploitation of individuals.
A startling and perverse fact is that criminal
networks increasingly engage in the kidnapping of people, especially children and teens, who are then taken to locations with
medical equipment where they are murdered and their organs harvested for the illegal organ trade.
Research indicates that illegal organ trade is on the rise, with a recent report by Global Financial Integrity estimating that the illegal organ trade generates profits between $600 million and $1.2 billion per year –
with a span over many countries that include Mexico, Central and South America.
The majority of countries in the Western Hemisphere are now in
compliance with UN standards on anti-human trafficking laws, however in recent years just 10 percent of all suspects investigated
for human trafficking charges in the Americas were actually convicted.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat
mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.