Human trafficking: addressing the free market of human lives

human trafficking

“We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

–       Martin Luther King Jr.

Human lives are the new commodity. Indeed the UNODC proclaims that almost every nation in the world is affected by trafficking, “whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims” (UNODC, 2013). Human trafficking is identified as being forcibly or deceptively taken and relocated to work in the sex trade or exploitative employment (as well as the harvesting of organs). The majority of victims are the poor, powerless, and vulnerable; predominantly women and children. Evidently a human rights violation, trafficking is a criminal system in which individuals are usually enticed by employment and economic health into a dangerous chain of migration and manipulation.

Now is the time for greater awareness.

Now is the time for grander legislation.

Now is the time for socio-economic equity.

Now is the time for a different social-anthropology.

Now is the time to address the ‘free market’ of human trafficking, which accounts for an estimated 20.9 million human ‘commodities’ (ILO, 2012). By free market I’m referring to the global complex – societal ignorance; ill-informed and loose anti-human trafficking legislation and policy; the growing poverty gap; global economic policy; corruption; war; colonization; and capitalism – which continues to fuel the philosophical demand for human exploitation at an alarming rate.

If the world’s wealthiest nations spent as much expenditure on things that matter – health; housing; employment; infrastructure; education; sustainable economic and social environments – as they allocate towards military might, then the tide of human commodities would evidently be less (I hate to say this) ‘lucrative’. However, even if we achieved global socio-economic equity within the next generation, without the important component of a different anthropological worldview, then the exploitation of human lives will continue.

Arguably just as capitalism has ingrained materialism, inequality and a self-centred ethos into western society; so too has it created the breeding grounds for the deathly fungus of human exploitation. Using the metaphor of sustainable-green-energy, it isn’t the supply that is the issue (in the case of energy the supply would be fossil fuels) it is the demand that creates either positive or negative outcomes. At the heart of society a renewed way of viewing one another in our global community (social-anthropology) needs to change the philosophical determinants of human trafficking.

The commodity of human lives is inherently evil; period.

No human has the right – ethically, morally, legally, religiously, culturally or economically – to exploit a fellow human neighbour.

Redemption is just around the corner…if only people were more bothered to look and participate in changing the world. You can make a difference, WE can make a difference.

Start with:

  • Re-evaluating your social-anthropology (how you view your interactions with other people)
  • Raise awareness of human trafficking
  • Engage with organizations, charities and other like-minded people
  • Write to your government in relation to more effective legislation
  • Continue to creatively and practically make a difference in the world…it’s possible


Works Cited

ILO. (2012, June). New ILO Global estimate of forced labour: 20.9 million victims . Retrieved from International Labour Oganization :–en/index.htm

UNODC. (2013, September). Human trafficking. Retrieved from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime:


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