Trafficking is the fastest growing means by which people are forced into slavery. It affects every continent and most countries. In order to clarify how this trade is slavery and a violation of human rights, Anti-Slavery International has produced this Question and Answer sheet.

Question: What is trafficking? Is it slavery?

Human trafficking involves the movement of people through violence, deception or coercion for the purpose of forced labour, servitude or slavery-like practices.

It is slavery because traffickers use violence, threats, and other forms of coercion to force their victims to work against their will. This includes controlling their freedom of movement, where and when they will work and what pay, if any, they will receive.

Q: Where is trafficking found?
A: Trafficking is a global problem affecting every continent and most countries. It occurs within and across national borders and ranks as one of the most lucrative forms of international crime.

Q: How many people are trafficked?
A: It is impossible to know precisely and statistics are difficult to obtain because trafficking is an underground activity. The International Labour Organization in 2005 estimated at least 2.4 million people have been trafficked.

Hundreds of men, women and children are trafficked each year to the UK. Research carried out for the Home Office in 1998 estimated that in one year, between 142 and 1,420 women are trafficked into the country; the research was based solely on reported cases and so the actual figure may be higher.


Are only women trafficked?

A: No, men, women and children are all victims of trafficking; although the majority are women and children.

  Q: Are people only trafficked for prostitution?
A: No. People are trafficked into a variety of situations. For example, Vietnamese men are trafficked to the UK to work in hotels, West African children are trafficked into a range of exploitative work throughout the region, Philippine women are trafficked into domestic work.

Q: Why are people trafficked? Is it a new problem? What causes it?
A: The trafficking in human beings is not new. But it is a rapidly growing problem. A number of factors have led to its expansion, such as the easy profits made from exploitation; growing deprivation and marginalisation of the poor; discrimination against women; restrictive migration laws; a lack of information about the realities and dangers of trafficking and insufficient penalties against traffickers.

Q: Are trafficking and smuggling the same?
A: No. Trafficking and smuggling are not the same. Human trafficking involves deceiving or coercing someone to move -- either within a country or abroad through legal or illegal channels -- for the purpose of exploiting him or her.

Smuggling is assisting someone for a fee to cross a border illegally.

Q: What work is Anti-Slavery International doing on this issue?
A: Anti-Slavery International works to draw attention to all forms of trafficking and for the protection of trafficked people. This includes calling on governments to sign up to legislation that will provide guaranteed minimum standards of protection for trafficked people and ensure specialist assistance.

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