Human Trafficking An Ethnographic Study Opening Statement Essay

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Human Trafficking: An Ethnographic Study

Opening Statement

Human trafficking is not a problem that only affects developing nations. Every nation and region of the globe is plighted by the problem of human trafficking, including the world's wealthiest countries. In fact, it is often the wealthy nations that provide the lucrative market that drives human trafficking to begin with. "Human trafficking represents perhaps the worst form of labor exploitation and can be regarded as one of the dark sides of globalization," (Loring, Engstrom, Hilliard, & Diaz 2007:1). This may be true, but human trafficking is a practice much older than the modern incarnation of a globalized economy.

The focus of this study is on adult human trafficking, a much-overlooked dimension of the problem. Human trafficking also affects both men and women, and this study takes into account gender roles and norms, and the different market needs for trafficked human beings. Treating human trafficking as a business, which it is, allows for a richer understanding of the problem. This research uses a qualitative method known as ethnography, to study the cultural contexts in which human trafficking takes place both at the source or supply, and at the end or demand-side of the equation. The importance of this research cannot be underestimated, as it is a revolutionary and radical approach to a problem that impacts all persons on the planet.


Although the extent of human trafficking is fairly well-known, actual information on the reality of human trafficking from its victims is sparse due to the secrecy of the illegal activity. There is an "estimated 2.5 million people at any given time" being exploited through human trafficking (5). Many of the victims of human trafficking are children. It is important to note that the definition of a child differs from culture to culture. There are many different cultures that establish the different age limits for adulthood. According to the United Nations and the United States, an adult is considered to be anyone eighteen years of age or older, and for the purpose of this study we will follow this guideline (7). Interestingly, United Nations estimates that the majority of all human trafficking victims are adults (2,-page 10).

The most pronounced stereotype of human trafficking victims is "innocent young girls from foreign countries" who are coerced into sexual exploitation (9,-page 1). Although many victims of human trafficking are young girls, this stereotype detracts from the reality that human trafficking impacts a diverse population. There are many other victims of human trafficking, although young girls have been classical pray for trafficking rings. Human trafficking includes, but is not limited to, a multitude of aspects such as forced labor camps, sexual exploitation, all of which comprise modern-day slavery (1).

The United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 defines sex trafficking as "sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained eighteen years of age; or & #8230; the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt, bondage, or slavery" (9,-page 1). There has been a lot of research on the different aspects of human trafficking (1; 2; 4; 5). The empirical data does not seem to support the major stereotype previously stated.

The United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime has conducted a study in 2012 showing that most victims of the human trafficking business are adults compared to children (2,-page 10). This study correlates with the empirical data provided by The National Center for Victims of Crime (4) and the Polaris Project (1). Human trafficking has been studied by multiple organizations including the United Nations and the United States (2, 4). It has been linked to everything from poverty and addiction to monetary profits for criminal organizations (1, 2). The United Nations has used graphical representations to show the percent differences of human trafficking usage, for example sexual exploitation or forced labor, in multiple countries around the world (2, 5). These graphical representations show previous data that has been collected by individual countries and then compiled into one larger study.

The United States estimates that most victims of human trafficking are hard pressed to come forward with information regarding their status (12). The dependency victims have with their captor factors into inconsistent data among this topic. Although some data shows there are approximately 27 million victims globally, this number is most likely much greater (1). This lack of exactness and the growing profitability of the action, give reason to conduct a study that determines differences between genders of adults in human trafficking in order to combat this criminal activity.

Human trafficking has been prevalent since prehistoric times (9,-page 9; 10). Since the early nineteenth century there has been progress to abolish different levels of human trafficking from civilization such as abolishing slavery, the creation of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the TVPA (10). Outlawing human trafficking has caused data on the subject matter to become increasingly difficult to obtain. This has made it harder to research the effects of trafficking rates by gender among adults. The United Nations states that an exact figure is "unachievable" (Loring, Engstrom, Hilliard, & Diaz 2007:1).

There are clearly gaps and deficiencies in prior research, which has focused perhaps narrowly on sex trafficking. This study attempts to show that human trafficking affects adults as well as children, to help dispel the myths and stereotypes about human trafficking. The research should be pursued and conducted by well-funded humanitarian organizations to prevent human trafficking at all costs. Everyone is affected by human trafficking.

Problem Statement

Increased understanding of the phenomenon of adult human trafficking is necessary. This research addresses this key gap in literature. It is especially important to study the gender gap in adult victims. The relationship between estimated human trafficking rates for various genders among adults have been conducted by various sources (1; 2; 4; 5).

While the United Nations has conducted research on global human trafficking, it did not examine the difference in human trafficking rates between different genders for adults (2). This lack of attention to a key variable in research prevents countries from appropriating funds correctly to combat this illegal business. This study will help fill in the deficiencies of previous studies to establish the differences of human trafficking rates by gender among adults.

Purpose Statement: Quantitative Research

The focus of this study is to expound upon previous studies on human trafficking (2; 4; 5; 10). The purpose of a quantitative research study would be to determine the differences of human trafficking by gender in adults. The independent variable of this study will be the gender status and the dependent variable will be the human trafficking rates. The study of the differences in human trafficking rates by gender will be examined by determining the differences in human trafficking rates of male adults and female adults across different ethnic or national cohorts. The conclusion of the study will determine if there are differences in human trafficking rates between genders. If the analysis rejects the null hypothesis, then a post hoc analysis will be used to determine where differences exist.

Research Hypothesis

Ho: µ1 = µ2

There is no difference in human trafficking rates between male adults and female adults.

H1: µ1 ? µ2

There are differences in human trafficking rates between male adults and female adults.

Purpose Statement: Qualitative Research

In addition to quantitative research, which is important, qualitative research is also necessary to provide the experiential case studies that can help humanitarian organizations understand how to communicate with victims, their families, and even perpetrators. Therefore, an ethnographic method provides the ideal qualitative research framework to approach the subject of adult victims of human trafficking. An ethnography will allow the researcher to understand the global context of the problem, including the cultural domain, social norms, gender roles, and other variables that come into play when analyzing the subject.

The intent of the study is to understand the factors that make human trafficking more possible in some cultures, and which also impact the differences in patterns between the trafficking of men and women. As an ethnography, the study will describe one culture or community in depth, explore the attitudes and other variables, and develop a cogent set of solutions. As the central phenomenon of the study is adult human trafficking, defined by any deceptive means of forcibly moving adult human beings from their homes. This means that some adults unwittingly go with their captors under the assumption that they will be finding work or other legitimate avenues of income or opportunity. What the adults do not know is that they are being illegally trafficked and will be held captive as modern-day slaves. The ethnography will study both source and end-user markets.

Research Question

The central question is related to what factors and variables give…[continue]

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