Human trafficking traditionally evokes the image of a large-scale, organized and brutal business, but reality demonstrates that nowadays human trafficking may occur outside of organized crime, with an increasing number of cases where individuals or families exploit or sell workers, neighbours, friends, relatives or children. In addition, trafficking is no longer limited to being an international crime – that is, a crime that crosses state borders – and may take place within the country itself.
Trafficking in human beings is a crime against human liberty and a modern form of slavery. It remains a highly latent crime due to high levels of stigmatization, fear of revenge from criminals and the insensitive attitudes of the authorities towards its victims.
In order to properly combat human trafficking, it is necessary to understand just what constitutes the crime. According to the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, “trafficking in persons” means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation includes the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.