According to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also referred to as the Trafficking Protocol), an international set of diplomatic guidelines established by the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime,adopted by the United Nations in Palermo, Italy in 2000,human trafficking is defined as “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 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. The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth [above] shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth [above] have been used. ”
Simply put,human trafficking is a form of slavery as it involves trade in people for the purpose of labour or commercial sexual exploitation.Much of western Europe and the United states are listed as top destinations for victims of human trafficking. Countries that are major sources of trafficked persons include Thailand, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Sierra Leone, and Romania.A look at the list above,shows that the source countries are mainly poor,while the destination countries are affluent.Obviously,the destination countries have to be rich enough to pay for the services of the victims.Clearly the disparity,in wealth between the source and destination countries,helps to explain,to some extent,the vigour and resilience of human trafficking.As long as destination countries are seen to provide opportunities,for self-improvement,that are absent in source countries,labour and sex trafficking will persist.
However with sex trafficking,forced commercial sexual exploitation,it is not just the difference in wealth between home and host countries that is driving it. The asymmetry in the legality of prostitution,between home and host countries,is a key factor.In most of these source countries,prostitution is illegal.Being illegal,prostitution is not recognized by the law as a legitimate activity,neither can it be regulated.As a result,the prostitutes have no rights and are completely vulnerable,not only to sexually transmitted diseases,pimps and extortionate “security” agencies,but also to traffickers,as they can have no recourse to the protection of the law.Legalizing prostitution will empower the prostitutes by giving them rights that can be legally enforced,which would give them some protection against the predators that are the scourge of the night-life business.
Legalizing prostitution calls for more guts and rationality than are usually displayed by these source countries’ governments.For a start,in most of these countries,people are religious and subscribe to the view that prostitution is a sin.Sure,i agree.But the fact it is a sin does not have to make it a crime.It is not the business of the state to determine an individual’s route to heaven,paradise or spiritual harmony.The business of the state is the protection of life and property,and facilitating the individual’s pursuit of happiness within that remit.The government should not have any spiritual revelation,not to talk of imposing it on anybody.This is the essence of the church-state divide.This cotract restricts the government to a secular interpretation and limitation of it’s interventions.Make no mistake about it,prostitution is driven by poverty.Just look at it’s definition:it is the rendering of sexual service by one person to another,in return for payment.Poverty fosters prostitution.Given that fact,we are better off acknowledging and regulating it,rather than ignoring it,as it is not going to disappear anytime soon.