What is Human Trafficking?

Michael Mungai

To traffic is simply to work upon an individual’s desire or need to migrate, by introducing them into a form of forced labor under conditions that make them completely dependent on the traffickers in ways that impairs their rights. The business of human trafficking is a predator of the world’s poor and vulnerable. Vulnerable populations are those in which people do not have their basic needs met, where there is oppression, persecution, and/or few economic opportunities.

Figure 1: Definition of Human Trafficking

UN Definition (Art 3 of UN Protocol 2000) Elements of Human Trafficking
Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment transportation, transfer, harboring 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 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 shall include at a minimum 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.
  • Attempted or real acts of trafficking
  • Actual recruitment by use of deceit
  • Facilitation of transport to victims within and across borders
  • Purchase, sale, transfer or harboring of persons against their will
  • Deception: tricking the victim into the vulnerable situation
  • Coercion: Use of blackmail to keep the trafficked person under control
  • Debt bondage: ensuring that the victim’s debts keep on increasing with time
  • Servitude: forced or bonded labour in slavery like conditions
  • Taking the victim to a community other than the one she lived at the time of the original deception, coercion or bondage.
The Chain of Human Trafficking
Recruitment: The recruiter approaches the prospective victim with promises for a better life

Transportation: The recruiter or another person may facilitate the transfer of the victim

Transfer: The victim may be transferred from one place to another before final destination

Harboring: Before reaching to the final host, the victim may be accommodated by the traffickers

Receipt of persons: This could be as a final exploiter or at any stage of the chain

NB: The trafficker may be a chain with specialized roles at each step or one individual


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