Human Trafficking and Corruption


By: Gerald F. Witherspoon, Sr. 20141113

Human Trafficking

David Batsone, author of Not for Sale and Against their Will, claimed human trafficking is present in the U.S. and guestimates the number of individuals trafficked to be approximately 200,000 (CBS 2013). His testimony echoed the record of foreigners who have been offered various types of opportunities for security including food, economic, educational, and more.

According to the Polaris Project, “To sex traffickers, the “product” they sell are the women and children they control” (2013). These trafficked individuals are forced to perform sex acts for money and often restricted from going and coming as they choose. They have been employed in restaurants and nightclubs, seduced by and held prisoner in the homes of pastors, and in various other environments scarcely suspected by the general population.

Victims are employed for various purposes. However, 98% of those trafficked for sexual exploitation are women and children (ILO 2008). Human trafficking victims, also referred to as modern day slaves, remain vulnerable to further exploitation by means of prior abandonment from family members, little to no social network, self-blame and shame, and revolving indebtedness to their employer or slave-master.

As with other types of smuggling or trafficking, profit drives the industry. The same conditions that motivate some individuals to commit the crime of human trafficking (such as scarce economic resources) are the same that tempt those, who later become victims, to offer them-selves freely to be recruited.

Because of the difficulty in determining whether individuals have freely migrated or have been coerced against their will, states have struggled with the dilemma of whether to categorize trafficked individuals as a threat to state security or as victims of crimes that need to be protected. Obviously, the latter demands more political will as the former solicits turning a blind eye.

Socioeconomic-Developmental Dimensions

Security is the canal down which development travels. Therefore, social and economic development is anchored in a state’s ability to provide security to its citizens.

When a state fails to do so, its legitimacy is brought into question. Likewise, the level of insecurity evidenced in a particular state can oft-times point to a lack of political will by leaders who are corrupt and  do not have their citizenry’s best interest in mind.

Thus, developing states (especially those with high levels of government corruption), become breeding grounds for exploitation as many remain stuck in a cycle of poverty. Additionally, as stated in Human Trafficking, Modern Day Slavery, and Economic Exploitation, “Alcoholism, violence, and family instability within the household also seem to play important roles” (Koettl 2009, 17).

It goes without saying that women and children who have ample opportunities to provide for themselves are less prone to volunteer themselves to be sexually exploited.

Likewise, governments and state officials who are dis-incentivized against participation in the profitability of human trafficking would most likely demonstrate a stronger commitment to fighting against such a dehumanizing activity.

Enticements toward Corruption

Drawing inspiration from the Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, Louis Bacani (reporter for the Phillipine Star) stated, “Officials in government units and agencies assigned to enforce laws against human trafficking reportedly permitted trafficking offenders to conduct illegal activities, allowed traffickers to escape during raids, extorted bribes, facilitated illegal departures for overseas workers, and accepted payments or sexual services from establishments known to traffic women and children” (2013).

Further, corrupt governments may offer immunity to such criminals by refusing to demand effective prosecutions by investigating or arresting agencies.

Border patrol officers may give in to the temptation to accept bribes that outweigh their respectable incomes derived from the prevention of smuggling and trafficking.

Others may suffer violence and intimidation by criminal organizations or succumb to their own lustful passions (uncontrolled desire for sex) and resort to collusion out of fear of blackmail or diminished community reputation.

Finally, that counter-corruption measures are more underdeveloped than counter-crime measures frustrates the prospect that corrupt officials will maintain the political will to stand unwaveringly against human trafficking.




Bacani, Louis. US Report: Rampant Corruption in Philippines enables Human Traffickers. 2014. (accessed November 13, 2014).

CBS. Eye To Eye With Katie Couric: Human Trafficking. CBS, September 14, 2013.

International Labour Organization. Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. International Labor Organization, 2008. (accessed November 13, 2014).

Koettl, Johannes. “Human Trafficking, Modern Day Slavery, and Economic Exploitation.” SP Discussion Paper, 2009.

Polaris Project. Human Trafficking. 2013. (accessed November 13, 2014).


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