Migrant women are at an increased risk for becoming targets of human trafficking perpetrators. It is estimated that 27 million people are trafficked for labor and sex trafficking globally. Women comprise 80-98% of those who are sexually exploited across the world. United Nations reports that of those who are trafficked, 95% experienced physical and/or sexual abuse while being trafficked. Migrant women who lack support structures in their destination country and come with low funds, can find themselves coerced into being trafficked. Whether they came under the guise of a job or continued education, or met a trafficker who befriended them with one goal in mind, migrant women can find themselves in a triple bind. They are poor, female, and undocumented while being trafficked in a foreign country. The Inter Press Agency (IPS)states that “migrant women who get involved in the commercial sex trade face multiple challenges. These include “insecurity in relation to the immigration status (such as) the potential breach of immigration law on top of prostitution-related law; criminalisation by the state; isolation and lack of friends; disorientation from the constant movements around brothels in different towns; vulnerability to extortion and blackmail; control by pimps and advertisers and lack of medical care (apart from certain clinics for sexually transmitted diseases).”
Not only do these women suffer the dehumanizing treatment of being victims of trafficking, they also lack access to health and medical care. As a result, many women attain a variety of illnesses that go untreated and further erode trafficking victims lives. Migrant families also face job discrimination whether they enter a new country through legalized routes, as asylum seekers, or as undocumented families. Women, who are still globally denied basic human rights, face extreme barriers to finding work in a new country and can fall into stereotypical gender roles which pay low and demand long hours (IPS). Thirty-two percent of trafficking victims are forced into economic exploitation, over half of this population is female. Global profits for human trafficking is around 32 billion dollars and climbing. Worldwide, prostitution is an act which women and girls, due to severely oppressive factors, can become imprisoned.
Migrant men also face great circumstances and make up a large number of those found in the forced labor market. The Solidarity Network writes that migrant is a person who leaves a country in pursuit of work. In North America, there are 18 million migrant workers. The migrant worker population, which usually consists of domestic workers, construction workers, contract laborers, low-skilled service sector workers, agricultural workers, and export production factory workers. Often, those who possess these jobs have left countries to find the work in which they are engaging. The need for work, puts this group in a precarious position and makes them vulnerable to being exploited through lowered wages, unlawful working hours, and other forms of abuse. Here too, a lack of proper documentation gives traffickers further power over the lives of migrant families. To be a migrant family, asylum seeker, or refugee in a new country is to be presented with unique problems. Those seeking the ability to provide for family members, those needing an economic boost, or those fleeing prosecution should not be subjected to further disempowerment, discrimination, or undue hardship. What can be done to aid migrant families and keep them from getting lost in human trafficking circles? Give us your ideas and feedback.
Task Force Intern IOFA