Human trafficking refers to the trading of human beings where people are forcefully taken from their homes and transported to another region where they are subjected to forced labor, sexual exploitation, or commercial sex work for the benefit of the trafficker or someone else. The primary aim of human trafficking is to use the victims for profit. Men, women, and even children of all ages and from virtually every background have fallen victims of human traffickers all over the globe. Studies show that traffickers often apply violence when they kidnap their victims and bundle them to the place where they are used for the purposes pre-determined for them (Burke, 2017). Other traffickers use fraudulent employment agencies or fake promises of educational opportunities in the destination to either coerce or trick their victims into believing and following them. There are various risk factors that predispose one to become a victim of human trafficking, and they may include poverty, political instability in homelands, gender inequality, mental health, and gang involvement.
Poverty remains one of the primary factors that increase the likelihood of a person becoming a victim of human trafficking. Poverty ushers in despair and hopelessness in life and the mere existence of a human being. As studies show, most human traffickers capitalize on a region’s poverty and lack of socio-economic stability to either kidnap or trick people and transport them into the regions where they face exploitation. Poor people are highly likely to believe the traffickers because they are always seeking opportunities that could afford them and their families a better life (Sarkar, 2022). Indigenous populations across the globe are often characterized by penury, and this is why they are primary targets for human traffickers. A primary intervention that can reduce the vulnerability of the poor is the provision of employment opportunities and resources that can better their lives at home.
The political instability of land is a significant factor that increases the vulnerability of individuals to become victims of human trafficking victims. Civil unrest, war, political problems, natural disasters, lawlessness, and violence in the homeland create instability that forces people to live in fear (Toney-Butler et al., 2022). Additionally, in such times, children are separated from their families, and this makes them more vulnerable to the tactics of human traffickers. Legal representation of immigrant’s provision of emergency and transition shelters are some of the primary interventions that can reduce human trafficking in times of political instability. Furthermore, gang involvement, where men, women, and children are exploited for the benefit of someone else, is considered rampant across many countries around the globe (Toney-Butler et al., 2022).
Poor mental health predisposes an individual to become a victim of human traffickers. People with mental health problems typically face various challenges such as the inability to provide informed consent, isolation, lack of capacity to measure the risk of their actions, and even the capability to identify ill-intentions of other people. Such challenges make them primary targets for human traffickers as traffickers know how to capitalize on vulnerability and exploit their victims’ disadvantages (Sarkar, 2022). In order to reduce the vulnerability of people with mental issues to become victims of human traffickers, societies need to erect and maintain psychiatric hospitals and homes for such individuals.
Burke, M. C. (Ed.). (2017). Human trafficking: Interdisciplinary perspectives (2nd ed.). Routledge.
Sarkar, S. (2022). The politics of human trafficking the politics of human trafficking: Lessons from Asia and Europe. Lexington Books.
Toney-Butler, T., Ladd, M., & Mittel, O. (2022). Human Trafficking. StatPearls. https://www.statpearls.com/ArticleLibrary/viewarticle/36310