Human trafficking

Gender in Human Trafficking – A Romanian Perspective within an European Framework

One topic that deals with gender is human trafficking. In Romania since 3-4 years ago several posters appeared, in the transportation means and in other points, with information related to human traffic. With this paper I will try to find the answer for myself to those questions and I hope that I will manage to make you also understand the points of view I am connecting with gender together with the topic of this inhumane practice.

1. What is human trafficking or trafficking in persons?

From the various definitions available here is the one from the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime:

‘ “Trafficking in persons” shall mean 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.’

2. The role of gender in the cases of human traffic

We will consider man and women, the most frequent approach: what is written in the identification documents, at birth, the general accepted. We will also take into consideration homosexuality, transgender and other cases.

Further on, we should understand why there is a difference of gender in relation to the persons that get as victims or perpetrators in the traffic circuit and what are they taken for.

The victims are exploited into prostitution, pornography, forced labor, begging, the constraint to commit crimes such as stealing. They live under the constraint and are kept prisoners and mistreated. They are transported with or without papers, looking normal or in very difficult conditions (hidden in cars, trucks, containers) inside a country or from one country to another. The accommodation is done in the most inhumane conditions, without hygiene and any dignity left for the victims.[1]

Most of the victims that are forced into prostitution are women. In what concerns the forced work, women are more vulnerable, their number is higher than the one of men than are forced to work in a slave system.[2] One of the aspects women are more vulnerable for organs being removed is that the man is the one that provide for traditional families and needs his strength.[3]

The traffic that involves organ removal, has a similar number of victims among men and women. In an article it is mentioned ‘. Some buyers refuse kidneys from women, expressing a kind of old-fashioned chivalry, others and old-fashioned sexism. Men are by far the greatest purchasers.’[4] From what many of the forced donors have confessed, especially men, they were physically forced to give their kidney, or be killed. In Europe, such cases are known to be happening to people from Moldova. The targeted victims come from a poor environment, the majority, their level of education is low, or close to having finished 8 grades, but also with high school finished. They used to come from the rural areas especially, but in the last years the urban environment has known an increase in victims.[5]

Due to the economic difficulties, women and men are usually promised a better life, a well paid workplace, they are lured sometimes even by distant family members or from their group of friends and then left alone or handled directly to those that traffic humans, to serve as a product.[6]

For the prostitution sector, most of the times women and girls are first tricked into having a relationship or getting attached emotionally to a man. He promises to a girl or woman that he will take her away, maybe even marry, take care of her, in many cases turns her away from friends, family thus she becomes more dependable on him and to trust only him. When a certain level of trust in him is achieved, the woman or girl is put on the prostitution market, sold; this is known as the ‘loverboy’ method. In the case of Italy, most of the sexual exploitation is happening on the streets.[7] Usually though the sexual exploitation happens in clubs, private environments and brothels.

Before becoming a victim, the persons are lured by those that want to traffic them into expressing themselves and exploring themselves sexually. Such cases happen especially with girls and women. Also, homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender persons are encouraged into behaving more sexually appealing in order to be easier to sell them afterwards. In the case of human trafficking, the victims become slaves at the orders of the perpetrators.

Children are also a part of this abusive underground sector, used almost for the same purposes as adults, but for a different kind of people, that enjoy mistreating children or abusing them sexually. It is believed to be more girls who are kidnapped and trafficked than boys.

3. Why does human trafficking exist today?

The economic difficulties that people face, makes them more vulnerable and easier to be tricked into the network. Young people that have no funds for tuition fees to pay their studies are at risk also.

Among the causes of today, there are the migration factor (due to climate change, due to political, ethnical or cultural unbalances), the need of human organs – for example as the numbers of people suffering of heart disease and diabetes raised, the number of requests for organs have increased. [8]

At a psychological level, the desire to submit another person or to take advantage of another has long existed. And no matter how many good and well intended persons are, deviations will probably exist.

In terms of sexual exploitation of humans or slavery, but mostly of women, there are evidences that date since ancient Greece and ancient Rome, as well as from the Celtic tribes time.[9]

4. Gender on the perpetrators side

How many women are part of those that use other humans for traffic of persons? Why would a woman ever be part of such a thing, considering the general European understanding of a women being vulnerable, gentle, caring, even if strong also?

To answer to these questions an official UNODC document mentions:
‘(L)es femmes sont concernées en nombre disproportionné par la traite des êtres humains, non seulement en tant que victimes (nous le savions) mais aussi en tant que trafiquantes (le présent rapport l’atteste pour la première fois). Elles sont particulièrement impliquées dans l’esclavage contemporain, davantage que dans les autres formes de criminalité. Il faut en tenir compte, surtout lorsque les auteurs des crimes sont d’anciennes victimes. ‘[10]

5. In Romania

The number of victims of human trafficking in Romania in 2013 according to ANITP.
The graphic indicates the number of persons from each county of Romania. Out of 41 counties, only 4 are without any victims.

Numarul de victime pe judet 2013 publicat mai 2014According to a report released by the US Embassy in Bucharest, 2014, in terms of prosecution: a new criminal code entered into force in 2014, Romania prohibits all forms of both sex and labor trafficking through the Article 210, which prescribes penalties of 3 to 10 years imprisonment (similar to those of rape). Romanian authorities though have never criminally punished a labor recruitment firm for fraud.

At a transnational level the Romanian authorities collaborated with authorities from Poland, Switzerland, France, Germany, Croatia, Cyprus, Austria, Ireland, Italy. [11]
According to the Romanian Police, most of the victims taken are girls and young women with the age between 13-33 years. 25% of them are minors and over 50% are between 18-23 years.

Romania is considered both a source-country as well as a transit country for men and women from Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, trafficked towards Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece for forced labor and sexual exploitation. In some countries they are used for begging. Romanian minors are trafficked inside the country for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Roma girls and women are very vulnerable to human trafficking.

6. At European Level

Human trafficking increased in a staggering way. The annual number of victims rises to 2,5 millions, most of them being women and children. About 500.000 are from Europe. Even if the profit of those that traffic humans hits over billion euros numbers, EU spends over 10 billion euros every year to fight them.[12]

Human trafficking is one of the most profitable organized crime activities in EU. About2 50.000 women and children from Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union are annually transported from their countries, to Europe and they can even get to the United States of America.[13] The European Commission defends the victims of human trafficking by punishing the guilty persons. In the last years a highly increase in forced labor was seen: 32% percent are used for unpaid and illegal workers in agriculture, factories and companies with difficult work conditions or as servants in different families, for begging on the streets. 56,6% of them are women, and 12.000 to 36.000 are under 18, trafficked in Europe only.[14] Romania is one of the main sources for human trafficking in Europe. For the first time a Romanian was convicted in the United Kingdom to 21 years of prison.[15]

7. Conclusion

The “3P” paradigm—prosecution, protection, and prevention—continues to serve as the fundamental framework used by governments around Europe and the world to combat human trafficking.

In schools, discussions about the topic could be done at Civic Education classes, history classes when discussing about slavery or by inviting representatives of the Police.

Also for prevention we should all, both men and women, get better informed when we travel to other countries (for example in case it is a country that has a culture for trafficking or disrespecting women, to see how economically stable is, what is the state of corruption and find out some historical information related to how each gender is treated), stay connected to our families and friends and be emotionally stable and self aware in order to be able to assess dangerous situations even coming from our close circle of acquaintances. Practicing a self defense activity can also be of great help. For example, Krav Maga is a useful technique for self defense for women and children that have been trafficked or abused. And one can learn how to use it before too. [16]

Parents could better try to get along with their children and educate them on the topic even before going to school, and not keep it as a taboo subject. Neither boys nor girls are as safe as we would like to believe.

“(D)espite cultural and geographic obstacles, an ordinary consumer can fight modern day slavery by asking questions about the origin of products sold and by supporting movements that pressure multinational corporations and governments to eliminate products made by trafficked workers and other forms of forced labour.’ [17]

Those that know about this delicate and present subject, human trafficking for all its types of end purposes, they can share different information materials on social media or directly at meetings, especially to girls and women, such as these: http://www.eliberare.com/coperte-facebook/#/ . In case we find out that a person we know, woman or man, travels or wants to go to another country, we should let them know of the dangers and prevention methods.

Images from several campaigns which were held in Romania, for raising awareness on the topic of human trafficking:

trafic_de_persoane               trafic-de-persoane-212x300

Human beings are priceless.

Author: Carmen Florentina Radu

Websites of Romanian Institutions and NGOs that deal with certain aspects of Human Trafficking

http://www.anitp.mai.gov.ro | http://antitrafic.ro | http://acumaidc.ro | http://www.acsis.ro | http://www.traficdepersoane.ro | http://www.cpe.ro | http://www.eliberare.com


[1] Council of Europe, 2010
[2]European Commission 2010
[3] OSCE
[4] http://newint.org/features/2014/05/01/organ-trafficking-keynote/
[5] www.anitp.ro
UNODC Report, UNGIFT Europe Analysis on Europe from 2009, Council of Europe since 2010, European Commision Human Trafficking document from 2010
[7] Romania, Youth Against Human Trafficking – Sexual Exploitation
[8] http://newint.org/features/2014/05/01/organ-trafficking-keynote/
[9] Wikipedia, Slavery and History of slavery
[10] UNODC
[11] US Embassy in Bucharest, Report on Human Traffic, 2014
[12] The International Labor Organisation
[13] Europol
[14] The National Organisation for Migration and European Commission
[15] Romania Libera, newspaper, 2011 and CNN, 2011
[16] Ipazia Imperia, Italian NGO
[17] OSCE, 2014

, 2010
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/madina-jarbussynova/human-trafficking_b_6052572.html , 2014