'Trafficking' is a word often heard in the advanced countries of the civilized world, and especially in Europe. It has been a term overused by nations,
international organisations, NGOs, the media, politicians and jurists and it
has spread around the world both literally and figuratively. So what does this
word, of great significance, really mean?
A formal definition of ‘’trafficking” may be found in the United Nations Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish the trafficking of persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime (2000). According to figures provided by the UN, the number of victims of modern slave trade rise to approximately 2.5 million, out of which only 1-2% are eventually rescued.
‘’Recruitment, forced prostitution, coercion, deception, trade, transportation against one’s will, extortion”. These words, describing human trafficking, carry moral weight, or, in this case, immoral. When people are treated with coercive and abusive means, new slave markets are created without a modicum of shame. Psychosomatic abuse and the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation, that is what trafficking means.
While the 21st century, the century of modern technology, fast communication, e-mails, health rehabilitation, impersonality and globalisation, is usually seen as promoting arts and innovative ideas, the situation is quite the opposite. Spiritual darkness, combined with unemployment and poverty, creates a foolproof equation leading to exploitation. The trade of humans, meaning trafficking, is a criminal organisation of great revenues per annum, making everyone jointly responsible.
At this point, a question arises: “How could the potential victims of trafficking and we, ever understand and distinguish who is an actual victim? How will I, how will you, how will You -the potential victims- be able to distinguish the -activated- victims?” How could a third party individual or organisation identify the enslaved people in the masses? Anyone may be able to deduce whether a person is a victim, after reading the signs. Someone who lives and sleeps at the same place where they work and are obviously injured bear chances of being victims. Scars, bruises, wounds in the mouth and teeth are the medals of resistance of a slave against the violation of his dignity. While having a brief conversation with them, you may notice that they tend to avoid eye contact and intimacy. They even express signs of anxiety and fear.
When suspecting that an illegal activity is taking place, citizens can take action. The first thing they can do is to communicate with a Tackling Crime and Emergencies Service, which may be able to investigate the case effectively. Of course, those who are abused, are the ones who need to take the courage and turn to a Service that may be of assistance and to put an end to the disgrace of human dignity. Certainly, lost innocence does not return and it does not get recovered. There is no doubt about that…
Out of the borderline of the EU, the victims of sexual abuse (molestation) are mainly women (96%), while the victims of workplace abuse are mostly men (71%). Between 2010 - 2012 65% of the victims of trafficking in Europe were EU citizens .
The question is, what role does each country play separately, in all this human “hide and seek”? Countries need to take a negative example from Greece, which is a place of reception, settlement and passage of immigrants, due to its geographic position. Human trafficking is an established crime by law (law No. 3064 of 2002). Penalties have been imposed on outlaws, although few of the people committing human trade have been brought to justice and convicted. Human trafficking is not severely punished as a felony, because it is not considered to be one. It seems that damaging someone’s property, a misdemeanor, is of the same significance to ‘’damaging’’ someone’s body and soul (human abuse).
Given the chance, for the time being, in Greece, when talking about moral promiscuity, the owners of the two most famous chain store bakeries come to mind. They are involved in the field of prostitution, white slavery and trafficking, while at the same time, they own those bakery shops. This situation sounds as an oxymoron joke. Both bread and circuses (panem et circenses) are offered, only at different sets of time. They own bakery shops, women, children, men, black money, all connected in a perplexed harmony. They have been arrested twice, made an official apology twice and have been let out without even being prosecuted, twice. The attempts of activists to inform the customers about the case by handing out leaflets did not turn out to be as successful as expected. Concerning the abused kids who have to be out on the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki, it is assumed by measuring, that they are about 100 kids on the streets, working 6-12 hours per day.
Abusers and victims’ actions are so disproportionately and unequally intertwined. The fact is that the profile of a person being a victim is quite unclear. A victim may be male or female, adult or child, native or foreigner, of high or low educational standards, a legal citizen or an illegal immigrant, a more (mostly) or less vulnerable person. On the other hand, an abuser may be a person involved in trafficking and the white slavery field, having direct or indirect authority over other human beings, their body, soul, and mind.
Trafficking does not absolutely mean isolation and limitation. In order to avoid having to face the legal consequences of trafficking people, abusers let their subjects ‘’enjoy’’ some kind of autonomy and freedom, while at the same time, they still exploit them and take full profit of their hard work. It has been mentioned that people who have been exploited and transported against their will, have also been the ones to search for preys. As a matter of fact, it seems that their abusers have made them think that if they find new people, new victims to recruit, they will somehow get a bonus and get closer to their freedom. The abusers take advantage of the victims’ despair and they manage to recruit new ‘’members’’ over a pile of lies.
Another form of exploitation is called debt slavery (or debt bondage). Debt slavery is a person’s pledge of services as security for the repayment for a debt or other obligation. Every move and action of the victim is controlled by patrons, known as informants. Victims do not have the chance to make choices unimpeded. Debt bondage is also related to waged (or salaried) slavery, a condition in which the employee works for a certain amount of time without getting paid, in order to pay back a debt to the employer, the racketeer. The racketeer in this case, is the person in charge of the brutalization of the human being. They offer the ‘’employees” the worst possible accommodation, malnutrition and they abuse them sexually and emotionally. Whenever a victim may attempt to express free will, he/she is treated with psychosomatic injuries and wounds to the soul.
It is time to wonder. What is the reason of the deception, cause and exploitation of human pain? The answer seems to be evident. The driving force behind each malicious activity is the pursuit of profit. In financial terms, the profit of trafficking on an international level may come up to 7 trillion dollars. Interpol investigation figures show that a white slaver, settled in Europe, annually gains 110.000 € per victim.
Trafficking is undoubtedly one of the most profitable illegal and criminal organisations worldwide, along with drug trade and gunrunning (guns trafficking). In some countries, slave trade is not among the severely punished crimes. In fact, white slavers are not prosecuted for felony, but for misdemeanors and they also serve a short sentence. It is as if human trafficking is less important than other crimes such as drug dealing.
Trafficking is a complex phenomenon that does not highlight a legislative gap, but on the contrary, it calls attention to the pending issues between the state and the territorial sovereignty.
Quoting Abraham Lincoln, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong”.