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Friday, December 7, 2012

Fact: 42% of the Recruiters of Modern Slavery are Women

Andrew Fung of Simon Fraser University put together a wonderful piece titled "Human Trafficking Visualized" for a school project. He took various statistics available on modern slavery and converted them into an infograph. He did an amazing job of simplifying this complex phenomena of modern slavery. However, the visual mislabelled the two forms of this crime, debt bondage and sexual slavery, as two of the most common causes of modern slavery. As explained in the picture, debt bondage involves people taking loans while sexual slavery involves someone being forced to sell their bodies agianst their will. Nevertheless, it is important to note that these two forms can overlap and eventually become the causes. For instance, debt bondage can result in someone becoming a victim after he/she is unable to pay off the loan borrowed and/or it can be used by criminals to keep someone in sexual slavery. While on the other hand, someone in sexual slavery can be forced to take out loans to pay for his/her housing, food, etc. 

Majority of the victims of this crime tend to be women and girls, approximately 80 percent and of that 50 percent are underage. Most often, women are only viewed as victims of this crime but rarely do people focus on the fact that women also play an active role in recruitment of victims. It is estimated that women make up about 42 percent of the recruiters. This is result of women being percieved as more trustworthy. The women recruits can themselves be previous victims of modern slavery, who are majority of the time being forced to recruit new members to buy their freedom. In about 54 percent of slavery cases the recruiters were strangers to the victims while 46 percent of the cases the victims knew their recruiter.

Due to the hidden nature of this crime, the exact number of the victims is still unclear and very difficult to calculate. This visual attempts to provide a rough estimate of the number of people illegally smuggled into North America. It shows that approximately 700 people are smuggled into Canada for the purpose of sexual exploitation and about 2,000 are smuggled into the US from Canada. However, the number of people brought into the US from around the world is far below the actual numbers and it is not clarified whether those people were brought into the US for the purpose of modern slavery or were just simply smuggled. There is a difference between smuggling and being brought to another country for the purpose of modern slavery. Smuggling is "transportation" based and the person is a willing party while modern slavery involves "exploitation" of person through teh use of force, fraud and coercion. A person being smuggled can become a victim of modern slavery as they go through vulnerable stages. 

Sources: Human trafficking infographic by Andrew Fung
              UN GIFT
              TIP Report 2007

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