Proposal 2: Who is benefiting from Human Trafficking?


In my first proposal, I primarily discussed the societal and governmental aspects of human trafficking. As you can probably assume, there is not much information concerning the business side because the majority of financial information is done through underground channels. For this proposal, I am going to focus on some of the information I found regarding where the money from human trafficking goes. Who uses it and who benefits from it.

I found one book called Human Trafficking by Louise Shelley. In her book, Shelley focuses a chapter or two on the business side of human trafficking. Interestingly, Shelley was able to create a business model for each of the different geographic areas where trafficking is heavy (Chinese, post-soviet, American, Nigeria, and Hispanic).  The business models range based on violence, education level of traffickers, advertising, profit margin, and the overall goals of the organization. What disturbs me the most is that these organizations of organized crime actually treat human trafficking like a business. This point brings me back to the image I posted earlier on the blog, the traffickers treat humans like items, items used to increase the bottom line and improve business.

There was also a section of the reading on where the profits from human trafficking go. The United Nations estimates that between 2.5 million people are victims of human trafficking each year and that human trafficking is a 7 billion dollar business annually. There are over 161 different countries that are affected by trafficking and there is no evidence that this number is going to be decreasing anytime soon. The majority of the victims are between the ages of 18 and 24 and 95% of the victims experience sexual abuse. Finally, many victims have, on average, a middle-level education.

Based on the statistics above, it is clear that human trafficking is a global issue. In my past proposal, I discussed using the United Nations as my audience. I am going to narrow down the focus of my audience to the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights. This Office focuses on assisting with violence against women, human rights, and basic rights in different countries.

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4 thoughts on “Proposal 2: Who is benefiting from Human Trafficking?

  1. I understand why you write this: “What disturbs me the most is that these organizations of organized crime actually treat human trafficking like a business.”

    At the same time, why else would traffickers do it? Isn’t it logical to understand it as a business (or at least as an economic activity that is motivated by revenue>costs?)?

  2. Are there things you learned about how the business models differ that help you to identify possible policy responses? You list factors that vary like level of violence. That seems interesting. But I was curious about more detail.

  3. I am curious how much a 7 billion is in comparison to other markets. It sounds huge. I poked around at some dept of commerce stats and saw that, for example, that films and music in the us was about $48 billion in 2010. That is just in the US. Still, you may find it useful to find some relevant benchmarks. How big is the global market for other black market goods?

    How much is the revenue from trafficking relative to the GDP of some of the countries most victimized? For example, a $150 million “industry” in trafficking in a poorer country may be even bigger relatively (and worse) than the raw number suggests.

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