Poverty’s Role in Human Trafficking: Africa by Nidhi Deshmukh, edited by Divya Basu
According to Oxford Languages, human trafficking is defined as “the action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation.” Victims are lured and manipulated into the trafficking industry that profits over 32 billion dollars annually, second only to the drug industry (Borgen Project).
Many factors come into play when traffickers target their victims, but poverty is the most prevalent. Human trafficking goes hand-in-hand with poverty, and is often fueled by it.
Poverty victims are made vulnerable by their environment and inclinations to desire a better lifestyle. They are exploited by traffickers offering empty promises and opportunities to better their current state. When impoverished individuals inevitably fall into this trap, traffickers manipulate victims into doing exactly as they say by threatening punishment, most typically through violence (Borgen Project).
Additionally, in an act of desperation, families suffering from the onslaught of poverty may sell their children into the trafficking trade (Borgen Project).
Because trafficking is a global industry, victims of trafficking are often exported and imported across the borders of different countries. More often than not, victims end up under the control of more than one trafficker, whether it be in one country or several. One of the main origin continents of trafficking victims is Africa (Borgen Project).
Poverty is known to be most prevalent in Africa, with over half of the world’s poorest residing in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Forty-nine percent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa are living in poverty. On a global scale, Africa houses fifty-one percent of the world’s poorest children (Peer). The widespread poverty in Africa has turned this continent into a gold mine for traffickers. Almost every region in this nation has over eighty percent of its people trafficked (“Myths about Human Trafficking in Africa – Africa Center for Strategic Studies”). While trafficking is a prevailing issue in most countries, it has become nearly endemic in Africa.
Human trafficking and poverty are two dominant worldwide problems that are most often found side by-side. While solving one will not completely eradicate the other, the impact that can be made by reducing poverty is immeasurable. Research shows that a little less than forty billion dollars is enough to eliminate world hunger (Borgen Project). Donating money and sponsorships are only some of the ways one can directly fight poverty. One such way is through supporting the Food and Peace Reform Act that grants USAID funds to supply aid for foreign countries in non-immediate situations. The Reform Act is taking a step further to pave the way for ending poverty, and therefore decrease the chances for victim vulnerability in the trafficking industry.
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“Myths about Human Trafficking in Africa – Africa Center for Strategic Studies.” Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 29 July 2019, africacenter.org/spotlight/myths-about-human-trafficking-in-africa/#:~:text=Human%20trafficking%20involves%20taking%20control,million%20Africans%20are%20being%20trafficked.&text=Fact%3A%20Most%20African%20victims%20are,%2C%20domestic%20service%2C%20and%20manufacturing. Accessed 23 Aug. 2020.
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