Holistic Approach To Human Trafficking Problem In Florida


Human trafficking is perceived as modern slavery, an illicit industry that is worth billions of dollars. It is documented as the second most dangerous crimes of modern time. Human trafficking is a dreadful by product of unchecked greed and global poverty. Its growth in the society impacts humankind, the nation-state and individual, as it involves the use of coercion, fraud, or/and force to engage in women, men, and children for sex, forced labor, involuntary servitude or organs retrieval.  It also endangers the security of individual human as it interferes with the national security (Huff-Corzine et al., 2017). Just like in other parts of the world. Human trafficking is a serious problem in the US, especially in Florida which is ranked as the third main destination of human trafficking victims. This is despite Florida having functional measures to fight the vice. This paper evaluates the human trafficking situation in Florida and proposes a Holistic Approach as a more viable solution to the human trafficking problem in Florida.  

Background on Human Trafficking

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is among the most contentious and popular topics tirelessly discussed from the late 20th century to early 21st century by activists, academics, journals and the public in general. It involves scenarios of women and girls trafficking within or across national borders for commercial sexual exploitation purposes, trafficking men and boys for organ removal, or for marriage purposes, for labor or contemporary slavery (Timoshkina, 2014). Human trafficking is thus defined in a way that tries to address all scenarios representing it, with the Palermo Protocol of United Nationsbeing the most adopted definition of human trafficking. According to Mapp et al., (2016), human trafficking is regarded as ‘trafficking in persons’ which is defined as receipt, transfer, recruitment, harboring, or transportation of individuals, by use of force or means of threat or other kinds of fraud, of coercion, of deception, of abduction, of the power abuse, of a vulnerability position, of receiving or giving benefits or payments to win consent of an individual with control over another individual, for exploitation purpose. At a minimum, the exploitation should include prostitution or other kinds of sexual exploitation, forced services or labor, slavery or activities similar to slavery and the removal of organ or servitude.

Prevalent of Human Trafficking in the United States

Victims of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking affects all individuals including men, women and children. However, majority of the victims are women and children, especially where commercial sex, forced marriages and force labor are the main factors of interest. Sex trafficking victims are mostly young girls aged between 10 and 17 years, mostly white and black. Men can also be human traffic victims but in small numbers. Girls are also more preferred than boys in global human trafficking (Timoshkina, 2014).

Statistics on Human Trafficking

According to international labor organization there are about 40.3 million human trafficking victims worldwide. Among them 75% are girls and women, 25% are children, while 81% of them are stuck in forced labor (Polaris Project, 2108).  The majority of trafficking victims; 24.9 million individuals were apprehended in force labor, while 15.5 million individual were apprehended into forced marriages. It was approximated that 4.8 million individuals, particularly children and women, were in 2016 trafficked in money-making sex trade.

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Over 1 million children are commercial sexual exploitation victims every year (Swarens, 2018).  Human trafficking and forced labor is said to account for 150 billion dollar industry globally. The Department of Labor in the U.S. has acknowledged that 139 imported goods from 75 nations are produced by child and forced labor. Based on 2016 data, it is approximated that 1 in every 6 imperiled runaways documented in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were probable to be victims of child sex trafficking (Polaris Project, 2108). 

Human Trafficking in Florida

Florida is ranked as the third largest destination of trafficking in the United States, with half of all victims of trafficking being children below 18 years (Floridahealth.gov, 2018). According to Human Trafficking Hotline (2017), the state has received 1601 human trafficking calls, and recorded 604 cases of human trafficking. The main forms of trafficking taking place in the state include sex trafficking, labor trafficking, both sex and labor and unspecified form. Majority of the victims of labor trafficking are subjected to domestic work or agricultural work. Majority of Florida human trafficking victims are women accounting for about 83%, followed by male, and then gender minorities. In addition, majority are adults who account for about 70% of the victims with the rest being minor. The state receives both local and international human trafficking cases, with U.S. citizens being among the majority compared to foreigners (Human Trafficking Hotline, 2017).

Human Trafficking Laws

International Laws

International law is a powerful channel for fighting human trafficking. The most recent and reputable international law instrument which have set the progression for how to prosecute, prevent and define human trafficking are the Convention of the United Nations over transportation Organized Crime and its two associated protocols that include the United Nations Protocol to Punish, Suppress, and Prevent trafficking in Person, particularly children and women, and the United Nations Protocol over the Migrants Smuggling by Air, Sea, and land which was enacted in 2003-2004. These conventions were created by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that have supported ability of international law to fight human trafficking.

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In support of enacting these instruments, the UNODC created the Global United Nations Initiative to address human trafficking (Gallagher, 2010). Instruments of handling human trafficking can be traced back to slavery abolition, which include provision of 1926 Slavery Convention, and 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Slave Trade, Slavery Abolition, and Practices and Institutions Similar to Slavery. International law additional tools which include segments against persons trafficking comprises of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1966 International  Covenants on Political and Civil Rights, the 1940 United Nations Convention for the Suppression of Prostitution Exploitation and Traffic in Person and the  1979 Convention on Abolition of all Kinds of  Women Discrimination. These instruments created the foundation for the modern efforts and conventions to eliminate human trafficking (Gallagher, 2010).

U.S. Federal Laws

Human trafficking is regarded as a crime under the U.S. federal law. The initial comprehensive federal law enacted to handle human trafficking is the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). This law offers a three-divided approach that comprises of prosecution, protection, and prevention. It also prohibits trafficking in persons, particularly into involuntary servitude, slavery, and sex trade (Mapp et al., 2016). Since its initial enactment, this law has been reauthorized three times in 2003, 2005 and 2008. The reauthorization prohibits the U.S. from importing goods created by forced lab roe human trafficking benefits. The law also addresses related but separate issues on trafficking in person, alien smuggling, and clandestine terrorist travel criminal support. The law also safeguards children from sexual exploitation and abuse, which is a common factor in child human trafficking. The law through Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, which demand that property owner may be notified of the use of their properties in harboring aliens of facilitating smuggling. The 1910 Mann Act as well as it subsequent amendment makes it a crime knowingly to coerce, persuade, entice or induce a person to travel to another state for prostitution purpose (Homeland Security, 2017).

Florida Laws

Florida law recognizes human trafficking as a kind of modern-day slavery, with victims being adults, teenagers and young children. Tis act based on Florida law involves forced labor or sexual exploitation of another individual. Human trafficking based on Florida Statute 787.06 is committed when an individual recklessly or knowingly ignore facts, financially benefit  from or engages in transporting , obtaining, soliciting, maintaining, recruiting, enticing, harboring, or providing another person  for that person exploitation for commercial sexual, services, or labor activities. Florida law demand prove that any adult human trafficking victim was forced into performing commercial, service or labor sexual activity, however this prove is not needed when the victim is a child. The penalty given ranges based on purpose of trafficking, the kind of victims involved and the coercion employed during the trafficking process (Leg.state.fl.us, 2018).

Address of Human Trafficking by Florida Law Enforcement Agencies

There are several laws created to safeguard trafficking victim in internationally and in the United States. However, majority of these laws only center on international and underage victims and thus, excluding sex trafficking victims who are USA citizen and in majority age; 18 and above years. In Florida among other states, there has been gradual emergency of multi-agency task force as the chosen organizational structure for both implementing Laws on human trafficking and offering assistance to human trafficking victims. Typically, these task forces include providers of social service, law enforcement agencies, and non-governmental groups under organization umbrella, with the police primary role being to implement human trafficking and associated laws. Majority of task forces in Florida are supported either by non-profit organization or federal funding (Huff-Corzine et al., 2017). The multi-agency task force structure permits for investigation of cost to be extended across various agencies and assists investigation processes across jurisdiction borders.

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Multi-agency approach additionally offers access to specialized devices and equipment for purpose of investigations and integrates prosecutorial, social services, and investigative expertise, theoretically permitting for extra successful prosecution and identification for primary human trafficking offenders. More essentially, it also helps in the provision of benefits and support to victims. Initial reactions to the human trafficking suspect are first carried out by the local agency and then state or/ task force response is requested if required. Another approach for investigations initiation include use of through tips focused on the National Center for Missing and Exploited children (NNHTRC), activity informed by the Florida Department of Children and Family (DCF) or Community Abuse Hotline. Most of the task forces have intelligence sharing and meetings quarterly, where they can carry out training and define future goals. Some operations are conducted undercover uncover human trafficking dens (Huff-Corzine et al., 2017).

Statement of the Problem

Threat to Public Safety

Human trafficking is regarded as a form of modern slavery, which is at the intersection of other emerging threats that include drug production, economic opportunities disparities, environment degradation, and excessive international migration. This is because threats of these kinds are pull-and-push aspects for human trafficking, or due to the fact that human trafficking intrinsically develops fertile ground for boosting some of the five identified threats. Thus there is a distinctive association between human security and national security, since theyareequally supporting the national security protective function and the mainly empowering the human security role. Human trafficking is enslavement which is a crime over humanity since it involves exercising individual powers related to the ownership right over another individual (Pati, 2014). Human trafficking involves violation of human rights to freedom, especially in making important decisions in life. It also involves illegal immigration of citizens to other countries forcing the victims to live in a foreign countries or states under the control of other people. This interferes with family peace, destroy the community or the society, and also propagate immorality in the society.

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